A Center rite of passage

Allison Pan and Gordon RingEven the best of times have to end some day.

So it was for a roomful participants who took part last week in the Center’s Ho’opuka Ceremony, a formal occasion to recognize the completion of various awards and programs sponsored by the Center.
Some 85 participants were on hand and another 28 — unable to attend — were undoubtedly there in spirit.

At this annual rite of passage, students collected a lei, a certificate of completion, a proud handshake from program coordinators and an alumni pin.

(As the joke goes, with the pin in hand, alumns can also expect to soon receive their first alumni fundraising solicitation.)

The afternoon gathering was a last chance for the students to mingle over refreshments and bid aloha to friends and colleagues who are such a part of the East-West Center experience.

Emcee Neneng Rosmy explained to the gathering that the Hawaiian word Ho‘opuka means not only to graduate, but to pass through a portal to another step in life (or at least that’s what her Google search revealed).

EWC President Charles Morrison told the participants that “the most important thing that we hope you take away from here is a set of values that I like to associate with the East-West Center” –- including respect for others, which leads to understanding; the importance of service; a sense of leadership, which means “having vision, and understanding that vision needs to be translated into action”; and, finally, “a sense of confidence in yourself and your ability to effect change, and your sense of identity as an individual and member of your community – and a member of the East-West Center Community.”

Hosam Gamal Saad El Metaher, a Ford Foundation Fellow from Aceh, offered the participant address.

“Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we didn’t sleep for days. Yes, we faced many challenges. Yes, we left our families.,” he said.

“But, here we are, graduating with honor. Here we are, a new, highly motivated, well-trained and educated generation. Here we are, ready for tomorrow!”

Were you one of the students who passed through Ho‘opuka? Post a comment and share what your time at the Center has meant to you, or let us know what exciting challenges you’re headed to next.