As humans we use our past as a frame
of reference from which we view the world. Hawai‘i pacific
University recently offered us—myself as well as many other
students, faculty and staff—the opportunity for “new” perceptions.
On Nov. 8 the University held its first ever “Symposium
on Global Citizenship,” and though the event was brief,
participants found the focus—”what it means to be
a global citizen”— to be much more complex then
even the event planners could have believed.
After breakfast at 8:30 a.m. the early Saturday morning crowd
was awakened by a brilliant speaker. Caroline Matano Yang,
current chairmen of the William J. Fulbright Foundation, seemed
the only person at the Symposium who had given ample time to
consider the nature of a “global citizen.” Yang’s
involvement in the Fulbright program has given her a personal
understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. She
has encountered the concept through interactions that included
Japanese in an internment camp and work with the United Nations
in New York.
Yang set the tone for the event, but like all good beginnings,
we must also see a good ending, right?
Unfortunately, the symposium did not end as well. Yang set
the standards high, but the laid-back presentations of the
in their individual discussion groups lacked focus in comparison
to her precision.
The papers various topic subjects could have lead quite nicely
to valuable discussions, but they failed to do so, either in
the small discussion groups or the general discussion that
concluded the symposium. The papers had clearly been worked
on and may
have been well-written, and some of the ideas held promise,
but the brief, unorganized presentations left audiences unsure
how these ideas were relevant to global citizenship.
I assumed that their instructors had read over all these papers
and assured that they all had a strong thesis accompanied by
thoroughly presented supporting data, but the verbal presentations
failed to communicate that.
As the facilitator tried to develop some sort of cohesive theme
from the presentations, so as to stimulate discussion, she
was caught in the spotlight of students who stepped onto their
boxes and ran wild with what few concepts they were able to
comprehend from the affirmations of student presentations.
As commonly recited in many classes here at HPU a paper should
have a strong introduction as well as conclusion. Nothing demonstrated
the feelings of many better than the remarks of a second year
grad student: “That was a waste of my time.”
But in the defense of HPU, one student, a public relations
major, said: “It was an event with a strong beginning
but a weaker middle and end.”
If we were to compare the events which took place at the “ Symposium
on Global Citizenship” to the requirements of writing
a good paper, we could easily think of the Nov. 8 symposium
a rough draft of what could come in the future.