Education And Volunteerism

By John Norris
Wednesday - September 28, 2005
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Yoko Usagawa, Masahiro Iemoto, John Norris, Akiko Tyler, Yumiko Konishi and Eric Batalon plan a TransPacific Halloween party
(from left) Yoko Usagawa, Masahiro Iemoto, John
Norris, Akiko Tyler, Yumiko Konishi and Eric
Batalon plan a TransPacific Halloween party

Located on the ocean side of Kalanianaole Highway in Aina Haina, TransPacific Hawaii College (TransPacific) is an institution that is accomplishing great things. It is not surprising that few people know about the college, because all of its students come from Asian countries to learn English and to learn how to be successful in American higher education.

TransPacific is a two-year, private, non-profit college accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The college uses a year-round curriculum that has students learning English for the first six months and then eighteen months of credit-bearing classes, finishing with an Associate of Arts degree. Following the two-year liberal arts curriculum, students transfer to a four-year program to finish their bachelor’s degree. Some students stay in Hawaii and transfer to the University of Hawaii or Hawaii Pacific University. However, most students transfer to mainland colleges such as the University of Washington, University of Oregon, University of Texas and William and Mary College. A small percentage chooses to transfer to universities in their home countries or other nations around the world.

The college is enjoying an 85 percent rate of success, with success being measured by students completing the program and transferring as juniors to a four-year college. One hundred percent of the students are from Asia, with the majority from Japan. The school also has students from Taiwan and Thailand, with plans to expand to other Asian countries. The current student population is 241, about two-thirds female. Enrollment is expected to rise to about 280 in spring 2006, which is the college’s maximum capacity.

TransPacific is experiencing a great deal of success because of the strength of its academic programs. The faculty and staff are well credentialed with a majority holding a Ph.D. Of equal importance is the college’s ability to attract students who are dedicated and driven in their studies. The college maintains a rigorous academic program utilizing small classes (maximum of 16) for four semesters throughout the year. Other than one week breaks between sessions, the students attend school year round.

Two keys to the success of TransPacific that are also important to the Honolulu community are the housing arrangements for the students and their free time activities. All students are required to live in home-stays arranged through the college for the first year. Students learn the customs of local and American families through the interaction with the home-stay family and English language practice.

It has become a tradition for TransPacific students to be involved in volunteering projects on Oahu in their limited free time. The college encourages volunteerism through courses in service learning that use volunteering activities as topics for written and oral discussions. The college has also set up a manned Service Learning Center for students to learn and explore different volunteering opportunities. Over the past four years, TransPacific students have logged more than 13,500 hours of community service. Seventy students have been awarded the President of the United States’Student Service Award for 100-plus hours of community service. TransPacific students volunteer at places including Hanauma Bay, Blanch Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo, the Hawaiian Humane Society, and many, many others.

TransPacific is currently under the leadership of John Norris, president, who has been with the college for five years. He is assisted by Michiyo Nakayama, dean of administration, Donna Prather coordinator of the ESL program, and Shungo Kawanishi, coordinator of the Associate of Arts (credit) program, in addition to a local faculty and staff of 60 individuals. Information about the college can be found at its website, Norris can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Next week: Ira Zunin of Manakai O Malama Healthcare Group

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