East-West Center Oral History Project: Sarah Vann

Sarah Vann

Sarah Vann,professor of library science at UHM since 1969, joined the Friends of the East-West Center with encouragement from her friend, Sumi Makey.  In 1990 she became the Friends' president.  In 1995, when the Center's International Visitors Program, originally conceived by the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) was about to be cut due to the Centerwide reduction-in-force, Sarah took over this responsibility on a volunteer basis.  Sarah's pre-Hawaii assignments in Asia -- including establishing library schools in the Philippines and Indonesia, and her involvement with the library program at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan -- predisposed her to becoming a staunch supporter of the Center's mission of education, community service, and dialogue.  After retiring from UHM's library school as professor emeritus, Sarah continued to work for the Friends voluntarily and part-time for many years. Sarah's interview focuses on the history of the Friends of the EWC, established in 1962 to run some of the programs originated by PAAC for EWC.


Read Vann's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC - Library School in the Philippines - Meeting Ranganathan in India - Arrival in Hawai‘i, 1969
  • Friends of EWC - Involvement, ‘80s - History of the Organization - Incorporating the FEWC, 1962 -  “Independence,” ‘90s - Activities and Programs -  Host Family Program -  Reading Room - T-Shirt Sales, Other Activities - Luncheon Programs - Ticket Refund Program -  Loan Fund - Fund-Raising / Club Cottage - Holiday Activities - Neighbor Island Activities - International Visitors Program - Midnight Snacks for Students - Mary Morgan Hewett Fund - Ohana Program (Formerly Host Family Program) - Looking Forward


Interview Quotes
"Quickly, the East-West Center stepped in and appointed Herbert H.K. Lee, a former Hawai‘i senator to be chairman of a committee organized in 1961 to be called Friends of the East-West Center.  In 1962, the Friends was incorporated on December the 12th of that year.  Its purpose really was to continue as organized, to assist the East-West Center in attaining its objectives, with emphasis on students"


"The Host Family Program originally involved a very close relationship between a family and a grantee.  The family would invite the grantee to its home for weekends, if it wished, but always for the big holidays. In fact, I know one host family was seemingly more fond of their EWC student than of their own daughter! At one time, the Friends did have classes for the host families, to come and tell them what was expected of them, and what they might expect of the Friends."

"And at one time -- this was long ago indeed – we sponsored sending grantees to outer islands and having them talk to people and meet people on the other islands.  I think that was started with PAAC which wanted to extend the experience of grantees to the other islands.  As far as I know, there was one successful chapter established, and that was on the Big Island at the University of Hawai‘i, Hilo.  Hilo has some records and it has long been my desire to go down and read those records about the Friends.  They established a chapter, or tried to establish one on the Big Island."

These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.