Monday, April 4, 2016

Experience the rich diversity of HPU

Faith Lopez at the 2015 Intercultural Day celebration,
holding the flag of the Philippines.
Hawai‘i Pacific University student Faith Lopez looks forward to welcoming HPU students, faculty and staff, and the general public, to the university’s Intercultural Day (ICD) celebration being held on Friday, April 8. This year — for the first time — the event will be at Aloha Tower Marketplace, starting at 6 p.m.    

Lopez, the cultural events programmer for the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and chair of ICD 2016, and a committee of student volunteers, will share the rich diversity of HPU through the event featuring cultural booths — with games, artifacts, costumes, pictures and more — and live performances.  

“Just walking down Fort Street you hear people talking in different languages…and they’re classmates,” said Lopez. “We’re so diverse!”

Thirty-two years ago, ICD was established at Hawai‘i Pacific. Howard Markowitz, Ph.D., former international student advisor and current assistant professor of psychology, and a small group of students, organized the first event as a way for student “ambassadors” to portray the values and beliefs of their cultures.
The event — which is now an HPU tradition — has a new generation of leaders, but the purpose to showcase students’ countries and cultures remains the same.

“I like to learn about people’s cultures. It really intrigues me,” said Lopez. “Figuring out how people express their way of learning about their own cultures to show other people is a big thing (to me).”

While showcasing the international learning community of HPU through ICD is a special annual event, Lopez, who is from Mililani, O‘ahu, experiences the diversity of the university community on a daily basis.    

“My roommate is from Connecticut, but she’s actually a Cook Islands citizen,” she said. “Two of my friends from CAB are Norwegian. My CA (community advisor, HPU Waterfront Lofts) is German.”

Lopez’s exposure to the multicultural environment of HPU has heightened her interest in international destinations and possible career opportunities that include travel.

“I’ve always been curious (about culture and travel). Coming to college is adding to my curiosity,” said Lopez, who is a pre-nursing major. “I want to be a traveling nurse who can go around the world…because of my job.”     

Additionally, Lopez’s HPU experiences and interactions deepen her understanding of the culture of her “home,” Hawai‘i, and the Pacific region. Now in her second year at HPU, she recalls being exposed to the Hawaiian values HPU embraces — aloha (kindness and grace), pono (honest and moral) and kuleana (responsibility and concern) — starting with new student orientation. To fulfill her Hawai‘i and the Pacific General Education requirement, she enrolled in an Oceanic arts class, learning about tribal art. The Hawaii Spotlight events sponsored by Student Life further Lopez’s appreciation for the Islands and stewarding its land and culture.

She also observes her fellow HPU classmates from other countries or from out of state, embracing the Hawaiian culture.

“I know people (not from Hawai‘i) and they take hula and they perform at hula performances for HPU,” Lopez said. “It’s nice to know there are people around the world who want to learn about your culture and actually know Hawai‘i.”     

For Lopez, meeting people and making friends, is largely due to her involvement with CAB, starting her freshman year.

“One of my friends said, ‘come with me to one of these (CAB) meetings,’ and I ended up going and liking it,” Lopez said.

Over time, she got to know more about CAB through her Peer Academic Counselor (PAC), who previously served as the cultural events programmer.   

“I would help my PAC leader on events, and I learned the ins and outs of how to work those events like FunFest, Intercultural Day.”

Campus Activities Board members at the 2015 Intercultural Day 
Now, Lopez and the 2016 ICD planning committee are leading the way. They are tending to the final details to make this year’s event an action-packed experience for their guests.

“I hope people are able to take information — maybe something that they didn’t know about their own culture or from another culture — they enjoy learning about,” she said.

For more information on Intercultural Day, go to:

Campus Activities Board (CAB):
All HPU students are invited to get involved with CAB. General meetings are held during the semester on Mondays, 1 p.m.-2 p.m., Aloha Tower Marketplace, Multipurpose Room 1. Students who aren’t able to attend the meetings, are welcome to email, expressing interest in CAB.    

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