EWC alumna Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a writer and performance artist from the Marshall Islands, was selected from more than 500 nominees to deliver a poem to world leaders on Sept. 23 at the opening of the UN Climate Summit in New York. Jetnil-Kijiner, who recently completed her EWC degree fellowship in Pacific Islands Studies, recited a new poem written for her daughter, “Dear Matafele Peinem.”
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Okinawa Conference Report
More than 300 EWC alumni, friends and colleagues from 28 countries gathered at the 2014 EWC/EWCA International Conference in Naha, Okinawa on Sept. 17-19, 2014.The conference program on the theme of “Developing a Peaceful and Sustainable Asia Pacific Community” featured more than 100 presenters involved in substantive panels and expert discussions on a range of key regional topics, as well as a special luncheon honoring EWC’s 2014 distinguished alumni and volunteers.
(View videos from the conference.)
“The very first EWC student to step off the boat in 1960, the late Abdul Zia … once observed that at the East-West Center there are no foreigners,” Center President Charles E. Morrison said in the conference’s keynote address. “I always found that very apt, both as a description of a reality and as an aspiration for how we want it always to be … we are one family, sharing a dream together as we navigate toward a destiny of a better region and better world.”
Alumni Couple Tomo and Aska Hamakawa Honored by the Dalai Lama for Their Non-Profit Work
Congratulations to husband-and-wife EWC alumni team Tomohiro and Asuka Hirabe Hamakawa, who both recently received Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2014 awards from His Holiness the Dalai Lama for their dedicated volunteer work.
At an event in San Francisco in February, the Dalai Lama personally recognized 51 individuals from around the world who help those in need without expectation of reward. Asia Pacific Leadership Program alum Tomo, who holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, helps raise funds for the preservation of Tibetan culture through documentary film and photography and is a staff member at Kopernik, an Indonesian nonprofit that brings simple, innovative technologies to rural areas. He also served four years as a full-time staff with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, which subsidizes low-cost and high-impact interventions that save children’s lives.
Asuka, or “Aska,” a former EWC affiliate degree student in Pacific islands studies, has known since she was a teenager donating to UNICEF that she wanted to devote her life to helping those in need. In 2009, she assisted with relief and reconstruction for victims of an earthquake and tsunami in Samoa, and she helped head relief efforts in the fishing village of Ishinomaki after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Currently, she serves as vice president of Tuvalu Overview, a NGO that promotes research and awareness of climate change in the island nation of Tuvalu.
Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program on Shaping Sustainable Schools and Communities Sows Bumper Crop of Green Action Follow-on Projects
See what sprouted when youth from Southeast Asia came to the United States to learn about leadership, civic engagement, and local sustainability through the lens of “green schools.” Since returning home, the participants have channeled their learning and experiences into positive community action to promote green practices.
In the fall of 2012, the East-WestCenter launched Leading Green: Shaping Sustainable Schools and Communities, a Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. To date, EWC has coordinated two exchanges in the United States for 61 youth and educators from the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The three-week-long exchanges offered took place in schools and communities in Hawai‘i; the San Francisco Bay Area; Washington, DC; and surrounding communities in Virginia.
Through hands-on activities focusing on civic education, leadership, diversity, and community engagement, the program provided opportunities for participants to interact with diverse Americans as they examined, through the lens of “green and sustainable schools and communities,” the principles of democracy and civil society. They also created Green Action Projects, described below and on the project website, which they have been implementing since their return home. By focusing on schools and their immediate community, participants have been able to practice leadership as they engage their peers and undertake positive community action to enhance their everyday environment.
EWC Community Extends Sympathy, Calls for Aid to Victims of Typhoon Haiyan
The East-West Center community extends its deepest sympathies to all those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. We strongly encourage community members to support relief efforts if possible. A list of reputable organizations providing disaster relief can be found here. In addition, Operation USA, a disaster relief agency co-founded by EWC alum Gary Larsen, is providing critical assistance on the ground.
If you’re in the Philippines, please contact us or comment on this post to let us know how you’re doing, and any activities that EWC community members may be undertaking there to help with recovery.
East-West Center Student Leader Receives Ann Dunham Scholarship
East-West Center Participants’ Association President Micah Fisher has been awarded an Ann Dunham Soetoro Graduate Scholarship, named in honor of President Obama’s mother.
Fisher, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in geography at UH Manoa, received $1,000 from the Ann Dunham Soetoro Endowment, a collaborative effort of the university and EWC to support students who “represent Ann Dunham’s values and interests in nurturing understanding, engaging in community service, and promoting empathy to encourage global cooperation.”
“I very much look up to her as somebody that was deeply committed to Indonesia and admire her for her approach in conducting research, as well as her pragmatism in working with communities,” Fisher said of Dunham and her work. “These are all areas I hope to strive for in my studies and my work.”
Dunham, an anthropologist who studied village industries in Indonesia, received her doctorate degree at UH Manoa on East-West Center grants. Continue reading