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Remarks by Dr. Michael H. Anderson
July 2, 2002
East West Center Association Conference Luncheon, Kuala Lumpur

Aloha! Let me thank our Malaysian hosts and say how pleased I am to be back in Malaysia. Malaysia was the very first Asian nation I ever visited. Thanks to the Peace Corps, I--as a young, naive, new BA graduate from 10,000 miles away at the University of Minnesota—was given the opportunity to be a volunteer here way back in the Stone Ages—1968-71—that was before CNN, APEC, WT, internet, and cell phones existed ; and before the word “globalization” had been invented or phrases like “clash of civilizations” or the “digital divide” were coined.

Six years later, as a still-young EWC grantee, I came back here to do my UH dissertation research and over the years, I’ve returned often and have always marveled at the dramatic progress this very special multicultural nation has made.

I’m, of course, honored to accept this award because it is coming from fellow EWC alumni—friends and colleagues—who knew what interculturation, Ala Moana, Swap Meet, Primo, Maui Chips, Kings Bakery, Long’s Drugs, pupus, Rainbows, Hamilton Library, the Japanese Garden, food co-ops, EWCA, EWCPA, Jefferson and Burns Halls, “Tuesday night at 7”, Jack Lord, Open Grants, and TDI, CLI, CI, Sumey, Jack Lord, Gordon, etc. etc. are all about. This award is coming from an association of people who know from first hand, “real world” experience in both the U.S. and Asia, that bringing diverse people together—more often than not—does produce understanding and friendship.

By your presence today and your continuing interest in a remarkable little education and research institution up in a beautiful valley called Manoa, you demonstrate your optimism and your belief that people—regardless of their culture or their nationality—share a common humanity. By exchanging views and studying and researching common problems together, individuals can help promote peace and prosperity.

In a very real sense, than, the original “mutual understanding” human interaction goals of the EWC are as relevant today as they were some 42 years ago when the Center was established.

Yes, bureaucratically and programmatically the Center has changed, evolved and matured, as any institution must to survive. But its basic goals and ideals remain timely and important. The great challenge for Center officials and alumni is to find practical ways to adapt to the changing times and to work even more closely together to keep the Center vibrant, innovative and well supported on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. This is all necessary so that the EWC’s list of accomplishments can grow even longer.

Educational Institutions don’t just happen. They need ideas and active participants, and leaders, and alumni, and they need budgets. This is especially the case today with a place as unique as the Center. The challenge is great because the EWC is at the same time both a domestic U.S. government-affiliated institution that must get most of its funding from the U.S. Congress and an international institution that must be relevant to constituents around the vast, complex and changing Asia-Pacific region.

What has the Center meant to me? A lot...both personally in terms of friendships and professionally in terms of education and experiences.

I doubt that I would have gone into diplomatic service and specialized in Asian relations had I not been at the EWC and been exposed to the region’s issues and concerns and rich cultural diversity. The Center during my days there in the “golden” 1970s was always intellectually and socially stimulating. Being a grantee, studying across the EWC road at UH and living in Hale Manoa was like attending a 24 hour/7 day a week seminar in “U.S.-Asia Relations” and at the same time taking a crash course in “Cultural Diversity.” It was all wonderfully rewarding and fun.

Just the other day as I was packing my bags to depart Manila after a four year assignment there and then head for New Delhi, I received a “bon voyage” card from a friend from Hawaii. The card showed an upside down snake looking at the sky, and it read: “Sometimes the world looks upside down...and you have to stand on your head to get some perspective.”

The EWC gave me much needed perspective. I credit the Center with helping me to learn how to stand on my head in this topsy-turvy world and get some real perspective on not only U.S.-Asia relations, but also humanity.

Thank you, EWC, for the experience and knowledge and thank you, EWCA, for the friendship and recognition.

Mahalo and Terima haseh.