By G. Shabbir Cheema (TDI 69-73; PI 87, 88; Assoc 07)
I joined East-West Center as a degree grantee in 1969. The Center provided me with unique opportunities to understand different cultures, identify with Asia Pacific region, forge life long friendships and gain cutting edge knowledge of political science. The “Saga” cafeteria (where I first met my lovely wife), Jefferson Hall reading room and mail boxes, and the Japanese Garden were some of the common places where the students met soon after returning from their respective academic departments at the University of Hawaii. Truly caring and kind staff of the Center, workshops and seminars on development issues, generosity of my host family, inter-island tours and field study were some of the highlights. I should add the anti-war demonstrations on campus, communal billiard games and cooking chicken wing curry on Sundays in Hale Manoa.
It is great to be back after 30 years as a new staff member. The Center has changed – as it should – along with the changes in the region and globally. The Center now has more diverse sources of funding, larger number of short term fellows and active alumni chapters in the region. More activities have shifted from Jefferson Hall – the old core of the Center – to Burns Hall. Most important, the mission of the Center continues to be relevant to the Asia Pacific region. The forthcoming 50th anniversary provides us with an opportunity to examine the ways to ensure continuity of the East-West Center mission with change.
Shabbir Cheema is a Senior Fellow in Politics, Governance and Security in the EWC Research program.