Hub Of International Education

By Charles E. Morrison
Wednesday - December 09, 2009
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By Charles E. Morrison
President of the East-West Center

In 1961, after breaking ground for the East-West Center’s first buildings, then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson said, “The East-West Center is here to serve the world. To this center we shall bring the wise men of the West and we shall invite the wise men of the East. From them we shall hope that many generations of young scholars will learn the wisdom of the two worlds, united here, and to use that wisdom for the purposes and the ends of mankind’s highest aspirations for peace and justice and freedom.”

This vision has guided the center since it was created by Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 14, 1960, with the mission of “contributing to a peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue.”


Since then, almost 60,000 alumni have participated in East-West Center educational, research and exchange programs. President Obama’s mother and stepfather both pursued their graduate degrees on center scholarships, and other alumni include heads of state, cabinet ministers, and many community, education, cultural and business leaders.

The center is determined-ly multilateral, with an international governing board, a multinational research staff and almost 500 students a year, approximately one-third of them from the United States and two-thirds from abroad.

(front, from left) Roxanne Tunoa, Charles Morrison, Pat Matsunaga (back) Elisa Johnston, Danian Davila Rojas, Gordon Ring, Gale Awaya McCallum, Gary Yoshida and Blaine Tajiri of the East-West Center

Programs are coordinated with partners, the most important being the University of Hawaii at Manoa, through which the vast majority of EWC students receive their degrees. The center’s research staff works with about 600 other partner institutions in any single year. For example, we help the United Nations model the AIDS epidemic in Asia, train members of the Khmer Rouge tribunal in human rights law, and assist regional governments in understanding a host of issues from demographic shifts and climate change to recovery from the economic crisis.

Many people in Hawaii do not realize that the center also has an office in Washington D.C., which conducts congressional study groups and extensive public programming, and holds the largest annual conference on Asia-Pacific policy in the nation’s capital.

We will be celebrating our 50th year with a wide range of events, including a gala dinner on Jan. 9 to honor the founders of the East-West Center, including Lyndon Johnson (who will be represented by his daughters), Sen. Dan Inouye and former Gov. George Ariyoshi. A large special anniversary conference will take place in early July at the Hawaii Convention Center.

We at the center also are pleased to have been able to help Hawaii become President Obama’s choice to host the APEC leaders and ministerial meetings and CEO summit in November 2011 - the largest gathering of world leaders in Hawaii’s history.

The East-West Center is deeply gratified to have been able to reinforce and project Hawaii’s international stature and reputation as a meeting place for people and ideas from across Asia and the Pacific.

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