The Community Building Institute is an integrated program of activities and orientations for new and returning participants which occurs before the start of each academic semester.  It introduces participants to each other, to the region, and to opportunities for personal, intellectual, and community development at the East-West Center. It is required for all students starting an East-West Center program.

The East-West Center Education Program is premised on the vision of collaborative study as a means for building a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community. This concept views learning as a collaborative process to which each person contributes knowledge, experience, and perspective to benefit all participants. It recognizes the importance of establishing a basis for the comfortable exchange of ideas by building an environment of openness, trust, and responsibility—of "shared community."

Through the Community Building Institute, participants will gain a greater understanding and awareness of shared communities as these relate to academic study, daily living and the challenges facing the Asia Pacific region. With participants from the United States, Asia, the Pacific, and beyond, CBI explores the many connections that unite different cultures here in Hawaiʻi, at the EWC, and abroad. Participants interact through educational and service activities that are designed to encourage learning about fellow participants, the EWC, and Hawai‘i. CBI also aims to prepare participants for academic life in Hawai‘i and engagement at the EWC.

video icon for and link to kahana valley footageThe Fall 2019 CBI emphasized collaboration and the instilling of a “sense of place” among participants through discussions, assignments, presentations, and hands-on service learning activities grounded in Hawaiian values and culturally significant sites on Oahu. This 5 minute video was produced by students who visited the taro and fish ponds at Kahana Valley Cultural Living Park.

Fall 2020 was our first virtual CBI experience, with participants attending all-online sessions and interacting through activities designed to learn about each other, the EWC, and their new home, Hawai‘i. This CBI was grounded in the Hawaiian word “Pilina”,  which has multiple meanings depending on the context; “Association, relationship, union, connection, meeting, joining, adhering, fitting.” For CBI we focused on our relationship and connection to each other in our community here at EWC in Hawaiʻi and beyond. During these unprecedented times of a pandemic, we are not isolated by distance, instead we are connected with pilina with a new community and ʻohana (extended family). Our next CBI (January 7-8) will be for the Spring 2021 semester and will also be conducted online.

Please visit the EWC Participant Information site ( for comprehensive information to prepare for life in our communities of Oahu, University of Hawaiʻi and EWC.  The site contains information and links regarding shopping, EWC housing, financial services, TheBus (city transportation), dining, and other aspects of life and living in the Center and Hawai‘i.


New EWC Participants at 2019 Community Building Institute
New EWC participants at the Fall 2019 Community Building Institute