Welcome back, or—for our new students—welcome to Hawai‘i
Pacific University. New or continuing, you have probably discovered
HPU’s diversity. On our campuses, students from more than
100 countries and different ethnic groups socialize freely.
The same can not be said of most American university campuses.
In November, the New York Times wrote of efforts at Dartmouth
and other top-rated mainland schools to bridge gaps between
their students of different ethnic groups: “Many campuses
are more diverse than ever. But that does not mean that students
connect across racial and ethnic lines.” In an effort to change
this situation, the Dartmouth administration has made a commitment
to spend millions of dollars over several years to help students
to become “culturally versatile, or culturally competent”
individuals. They believe that these attributes “will become
more useful as the nation becomes increasingly diverse.”
HPU already has a student body that largely fits the vision
of Dartmouth and other top U.S. universities. Many of you
already relate to your peers from other cultures on a daily
basis, and you have developed the ability to work together
across cultural lines. This will certainly prove valuable
not only while you are students here, but also in your personal
and professional lives.
While schools such as Dartmouth hav started consciously and
deliberately to plan a welcoming multicultural campus, HPU’s
multicultural experience has arisen in a more spontaneous
and organic way because of our Hawai‘i location. HPU has had
a large number of international students for many years, and
our host Hawaiian culture has always welcomed newcomers into
the ‘ohana, the family or group.
The spontaneous, unplanned nature of our multicultural learning
environments means that we know something wonderful happens
when students join us. However, we are still not very clear
about how that happens. Some goals of our current planning
process are to define what we mean by “global citizenship”
at HPU, to understand the processes at work here, and to enhance
what we are doing. As we do so, we will almost certainly have
valuable insights to share with institutions such as Dartmouth.