Most students who have traveled internationally will attest that their experiences abroad amount to much more than just a stamp on their passport or a few shiny souvenirs. Travel—and the experiences that come with it—changes you.
For Kapi‘olani Community College Chancellor Dr. Louise Pagotto, traveling to a new and unfamiliar place gives students the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective and allows them to better understand the concepts that they learn in the classroom. Having once been an international student at UH herself, she recalls her own travels as some of the best experiences of her life.
“You simply cannot go somewhere, experience a different culture, a different environment, and not be changed forever,” said Pagotto.
The benefits of international travel are numerous, from learning about a different culture to honing second language skills and more. While funding for student travel is much more prevalent at the four-year campuses, community college students can also benefit greatly from international travel experiences.
With this in mind, Pagotto has established the Queen Kapi‘olani International Travel Scholars Endowed Fund in hopes of supporting Kapi‘olani CC students with expenses related to short-term international travel opportunities such as conferences, competitions, presentations and cultural events. The scholarship will be available to all Kapi‘olani CC students.
“New food, new habits, new cultures, new music, all of it is enriching in ways that you cannot get from watching films or reading books,” added Pagotto.
The fund is named in honor of Queen Julia Kapi‘olani, who was no stranger to international travel. In 1887, Queen Kapi‘olani and Princess Lili‘uokalani traveled by ship to the U.S. West Coast, by train to the East Coast, and by ship across the Atlantic to attend Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in London.
“There’s so much to learn,” added Pagotto. “Even if students are staying abroad for only a few days, that compressed experience can help them see the world in a different way. They will come back a very different person.”
Pagotto also hopes to inspire others to make a gift to support students in an area they are passionate about.
“I know that our students are very conscious of their economic situation and so they don’t always have the funds to travel abroad,” she adds. “I just want to encourage them to take this first step. If they can take this first step, the world will start to open up for them.”
If you would like to join Louise and make a gift to support international travel opportunities, please visit our fund page here.
After leaving her overseas teaching position in Papua New Guinea, Louise Pagotto was traveling through Nepal when she encountered a sight that has stuck with her for many years. Tucked away on a narrow lane in Kathmandu was a stretch of brick wall decked with row upon row of dried cow patties, which would later be used for cooking fuel. Each patty was carefully shaped by hand, pressed into the wall to form a medallion and stamped with a sprawling handprint. After baking in the sun, the patties were fixed to the wall—memorializing the hands of those that formed them.
Although this sight may seem curious to some, in Nepal where the population is largely Hindu, cows are considered sacred animals. For Pagotto, the sight of the wall led her to one ultimate conclusion:
“There’s so much to learn. When you travel to a new place, all the things that you’ve studied become real. You get to meet people and see things you’ve never seen before, and yet somehow you find a common humanity.”