For millions of people the image of Hawaii is one of a tropical paradise. The lush green mountains set in the center of the sparkling Pacific Ocean lures visitors from all over the world.
No one is disappointed. The Hawaiian Islands offer something for just about everyone's tastes. But Hawaii is more than just a vacation paradise. It is the gathering place where people of the world come to learn, to teach and to work.
Among the visitors who annually grace the Hawaiian Islands are thousands of international students who engage in what has become popularly known as "educational tourism". The students come from Europe, Australia, Asia and the US mainland to pursue degrees, expand their education, and engage in unique seminars that only Hawaii can offer.
Academically, they are not disappointed. Hawaii has educational institutions that rank with the best in the world. In a rich green valley called Manoa, the main campus of the University of Hawaii is a home base for more than 25,000 students. The University offers a full curriculum in both the liberal arts and the sciences. The University is also the premiere center for studies in Marine Sciences, Astronomy and Tropical Agriculture.
The lush forests and sparkling oceans are also priceless laboratories for students and scientists who explore the frontiers on earth. For those who explore the heavens, the peaks of the volcanoes that rise up on the Big Island are home to some of the most advanced observatories in the world.
Geologists marvel at the lava that flows from vents in the earth's crust as it forms new land at the ocean's edge. Botanists study the broad expanses of lava where life is just taking root - just as it has for millions of years.
Not to be given a back seat by the sciences, economists, political scientists, and sociologists find Hawaii the ideal place to bring together experts from diverse cultural backgrounds to share ideas and experiences. The true meeting of East and West occurs in Hawaii.
In addition to the UH, Hawaii has a number of private universities that include a focus on the special needs of visiting students. The East-West Center is a world-renowned institute for economic and political research in the Pacific Rim. The Japan-America Institute of Management Science (JAIMS) offers International Business Seminars in such areas as Cross-Cultural Business Communication and Information Technology.
Chaminade University of Honolulu, the Hawaii Pacific University and Brigham Young University Hawaii are private institutions that have a large population of international students.
Whether students are seeking advanced degrees, brushing up on English-speaking skills, or simply combining their educational goals with a visit to the islands, Hawaii is the destination of choice. Those who have experienced study in Hawaii will cherish lifelong memories. Theirs is an experience that goes well beyond the casual tourist or the brief business visitor.