Orientation 2008 group photo. Click image to enlarge.


Spotlight on Education: New EWC Student Fellows Welcomed

Sumi Makey (left) with Clare Chan, the first recipient of the Sumi Makey Scholars Award.

The East-West Center recently welcomed a new cohort of 159 students hailing from 37 countries, bringing the total to 374 student fellows from 50 countries who will be in residence this fall at the Center. The new student fellows embarked on a two-week orientation to East-West Center life and culture along with an immersion into the host culture and values of Hawai‘i.  

A field trip to Kahana Valley, where students worked hands-on in the taro fields and learned about the native Hawaiian ahupua’a (traditional agriculture) system and malama ‘aina (caring for the land), was an integral part of the orientation.  EWC alumnus and U.H. Professor of Hawaiian Studies and Geography Kumu Alapaki Luke added more depth with an overview of the history of Hawai‘i and its people. 


Gulab Watumull with the Jhamandas Watumull Scholarship recipients Neha Chaturvedi and Huma Sheikh.

Clare Chan, a doctoral student in ethnomusicology from Malaysia, reflected on the intermingling of different cultures at the EWC, “The Center has its own culture as well. . . one that breaks down barriers and brings people together . . .where everyone feels comfortable with each other’s differences.”  Chan first experienced the Center’s unique culture as an EWC student affiliate (a self-funded student who participates fully in all the educational programs, seminars, community service, student conferences and the vibrant community in the East-West Center graduate residence halls). She now is an East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellow and the first recipient of the Sumi Makey Scholars Award in Arts and Humanities.


Hawaiian chant and hula performance during the EWC Aloha Ceremony.

This award, established with a $100,000 contribution from the first EWC Dean of Student Affairs and Open Grants, Sumi Makey, supports the creative pursuits of Southeast Asian women in the arts and humanities.  “The East-West Center is a wonderful place to be and a wonderful place to work. I loved working here,” remarked Makey.  As to her motivation behind the award, she explained:  “I focused on arts and humanities since I feel it directly enriches people’s lives.  The majority of the other scholarships focus primarily on the social sciences, so this fills an important gap.”

Another first this year is the number of student affiliates at the Center, which has grown to just over 100. Mary Hammond, Dean of the EWC Education Program, pointed out that the student affiliate program has become a major competition, drawing applicants from around the world. She noted, “Student Affiliates don’t receive scholarships from the Center. . .instead it’s the relationship with the Center that’s such a powerful draw. . . and the affiliates who come are enormously involved.  The East-West Center student experience is not just about scholarships and fellowships, rather it’s about the opportunity for engagement that is perceived as extremely valuable.”


Lei making workshop during orientation week.


New student orientation activities.


New student fellows from the Pacific.


New student fellows at the Aloha Ceremony.


New student fellows at the Aloha Ceremony.