Pandemic restrictions left student residents at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hungry for interaction and connection with others. Searching for a safer solution, the UH Hilo Center for Global Education and Exchange collaborated with the University Housing Office to create a program to engage on-campus residents.
That collaboration bore Kāwili Kine Culture, an inter-departmental program that places students in the community to physically work and play, while highlighting the Indigenous culture and diverse ethnic heritage of Hawaiʻi Island. It was designed to share island culture with international and out-of-state exchange, and other students in on-campus housing.
“Basically every week we offer a lecture followed by a huakaʻi or outing,” said Carolina Lam, director of Global Education at UH Hilo. “We have invited faculty, alumni and community members to come to campus and speak to our students, sharing with them something about our island culture.”
Lam consulted with Alton Okinaka, a sociology professor at UH Hilo who she said was instrumental in advising the center during the initial planning of the new program.
“The term kāwili in Hawaiian means to mix,” added Lam. “So those of you who did not know this about our university’s street name, now do.”
Weekly excursions have taken students to Volcanoes National Park and Keaukaha to plant native seedlings at a reforestation project. They also took a walking tour of Hilo town visiting Lyman Museum, Wailuku River and Liliʻuokalani and Kalākaua parks.
Retired UH Hilo geography professors Sonia Juvik and Jim Juvik led the latest outing and took students to Kāʻū to soak in the area’s land and people.
On social media, students raved about the experience noting, “along with the beautiful sightseeing we were able to [peek] into the history of these places thanks to the knowledge shared by Drs. Sonia and Jim.”