Big changes in the works

Jonz Stoneroad

It’s been four weeks since the Fall semester has begun and there are various construction projects on the campus that you may have noticed. Here are a few updates from David Tanaka, Facilities Manager for Operations and Maintenance:

Building 5 Science Building

Construction of the courtyard is slated to be completed by February 23-28, 2018. The second floor Hawaiian Center is already completed and was recently opened in the first weeks of September. The design of the courtyard is geared to be a place for students to congregate, have their lunch, and be centered around the campus services i.e. Native Hawaiian Center, Academic Advising, etc.


The cafe will continue to have the current vendor (Cooking Fresh) who is planning to expand with a coffee service area. No date has been given as to when this will occur. Speakers have been installed in the cafeteria on October 16, 2017. Servicing for the air conditioning has been rescheduled on October 20, 2017 from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM.

Bldg. 7 Elevator repairs

One of the two elevators has been repaired and ready for use.

Bldg. 2 Elevator repairs

There were some delays in repairing the elevators because of multiple service providers. Elevator repairs including inspection date is tentative but looking towards the end of the school year (2018). While they are operational, repairs being made. At least (1) elevator will remain operational while the others are being worked on.

Misc. Campus Areas

The security cameras on campus have been repaired and fully operational. No new cameras were installed; only replaced.

Security alarms will be upgraded in the following areas: Bldg. 13 (October 23), Bldg. 16 (October 24), Bldg. 24 (October 25), Bldg. 17 (October 26) and Bldg. 18 (October 27). The installations will occur from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

The campus is working on ideas and plans to maintain sustainability with services that benefit the student body and school services. One of these plans is the installment of water refill stations. There is one water station on each floor of Building 2; in the auto body shop; and at the Ewa end of the library.

Parking Lot 8 will undergo repairs and repaved. The math portable will remain and will adjust to the changes and repair activities around them.
The damaged lights in Parking Lot 1 are currently under repair. There is no estimated completion date at this time.

The plans to accommodate the upcoming Rail Project will continue with adjustments in the parking lots (entrance) and possible relocation of campus services. HECO will also be replacing their electrical wires underground so that may affect the campus as far as parking (entrance) is concerned. There is no date yet for the construction of the rail on Dillingham.

Production costs are done by a need basis of each campus under the University of Hawaii. UH acquired $10,000 for the entire University of Hawaii system and then each campus is approved to receive funding. After the costs are taken into consideration, it has to be approved before they can proceed with any adjustments or changes on campus.

Campus has renewed push for sustainability

Larry L. Medina

HonCC is moving forward with efforts to become environmentally aware and supporting positive environmental, economic, and socially sustainable values. Called Sustainability, the campus hopes to model these practices and incorporate them in the classroom and day-to-day college operations.

Cynthia Smith, HonCC Sustainability Coordinator, said that there is an increased emphasis by the UH system as a whole. Smith said HonCC “[needs to become] more sustainable in how we practice, but also integrating [sustainability values and practices] into education so we’re preparing students for a world in which they have to be aware of sustainability issues, threats to the climate, things like that.”

Sustainability first became UH system-wide priority when David Lassner, UH President, along with the UH Board of Regents (BOR) passed a policy in 2015 outlining goals and obligations of the 10-campus system to become sustainable. An Office of Sustainability was formed to rally and promote the policy initiative.

“There’s been a lot of people concerned about this for years,” said Smith. She said it started with the environmental movement in the 1970’s.

HonCC has had a Sustainability Committee for the past three years. With Smith as Sustainability Coordinator, one issue they are moving on is targeting classes to have an “S-Designation.”

An S-designated class means that it is certified as having a sustainability emphasis, with 10% of the class time talking about environmental issues. A class that is sustainability-focused means 60% of that class is devoted to the topic.

“It could be a science class, it could be an English class, Sociology can talk about it; but we even have our technical programs – AMT has a sustainability designation class – but what they’re writing about and researching is environmental topics, because what’s really important in those programs is to understand new and more sustainable practices. If they’re taking a class in Economics or Math, why not have the assignments they’re doing relate not to just abstract numbers, but say, numbers that relate to carbon emissions? [They will] learn about threats and solutions to the environment, and the implications.”

“Why have an S Designation? It’s to integrate a consciousness in no matter what students are taking. When they take a range of [sustainability] classes, they learn more about the environment as part of their general education experience.”

Smith and the committee are also hoping for certificate programs focused on sustainability issues.

“That’s really going to make students more employable in many professions. Students really need to lead with this knowledge [to give them] that advantage.”

Maui College already has a four-year degree Sustainability Management, while UH-West O’ahu has a four- year degree in local agriculture and sustainability.

Another focus on sustainability is how to generate less waste, reduce use, increase recycling. Currently, HonCC has no formal recycling program.

“We don’t recycle anymore because the City took the [recycling collection] bin away,” said Smith. She said the school has a waste contract that doesn’t include collection of recyclables.

“So we either have to pay huge amounts [for a private commercial enterprise to take the recyclables], or work it out in-house on how we are going to gather all the cans and bottles, where’s it’s going to be stored, who’s going to lug it. [Currently] you just take it home and put it in your blue bin at this point, and recycle on your own. But trying to collect it from the cafeteria and these public places where you might get a lot-?”

Smith said she is currently working with David Tanaka, Facilities Manager HonCC. “Derek and our facilities people are very very committed to this, very interested in facilitating, so certainly we want to try to get some recycling. Everyone wants to see a recycle bin.”

“I want to try to get the beginnings of a club and so more people join and get involved and see what those students want to do, whether it’s cleanup projects, whether its campus awareness, whether it’s helping with the recycling,” said Smith. She said there are monies and prizes available for student environmental projects and initiatives.

There are a few service-learning opportunities that students can get involved with right now, including Malama ‘Aina Days, the campus mala, and the campus greenhouse.

“Getting involved, getting your hands dirty in some cases, or working in offices that are promoting sustainability, these are all skills that might get students into professions, inspire them, and certainly make them feel like they are contributing.”

His love of language comes out in class

by Fredrene Balanay
Ka La Staff Writer

HonCC’s English instructor, Derek N. Otsuji, won the 2017 Excelence in Teaching award. Otsuji said it was his love for poetry that started it all.

“I remember listening to T.S. Elliot’s ‘Old Possum’s book of practical cats,’ ” Otsuji recalled the first time he heard poetry and wanted to become a poet. “I was enchanted by the beauty of language,” Otsuji said.

Each year instructors are nominated by 3 or more students, staff and or faculty is selected for the excellence in teaching award. Nominations are based on teaching effectiveness, student involvement outside the classroom, curriculum development and professional growth.

One student commented on that Otsuji is “a really great teacher. If you don’t understand the material don’t be scared to ask. He is really understandable with students. And always want his students to succeed.”

Originally a poetry major Otsuji soon realized you can’t make a living as a poet. “So teaching became the next natural thing to do,” Otsuji said. In 1997 he began his career as a business writing instructor at the Japan American Institute of Management Sciences (JAIMS). In 2009, nearly 12 years and another Japan affiliated college later, he took a job as a casual hire at HonCC.

“[As a casual hire] I started with one class every evening,” Otsuji said. Soon after Otsuji was asked to take on more classes, changing his status from casual hire to lecturer. By 2011 he was offered a permanent position and has been here since.

Otsuji best describes his first day at HonCC as his most traumatic and transformative moments as a teacher. “And this [paperweight] serves as a reminder of that day,” Otsuji said, showing a homemade sheet metal object he got from a student he met that day.

“It was the first day of class and I just finished the introductions and started on a grammar lesson, something I don’t do anymore,” Otsuji explained. “As I continued with the grammar I heard a loud noise,” Otsuji continued. “This student had slammed the desk and said loudly ‘I don’t know why I need to learn English – I’m going into auto tech!’” Otsuji doesn’t remember exactly what his response was to this student. “I believe I muttered something about come see me in my office.” Otsuji said. “That night I couldn’t sleep; I kept thinking why does he have to take English.”

According to Otsuji he did meet with that student in his office. “We talked about it. And I just asked him to give me a chance,” Otsuji said. That student later found a passion for welding and switched trades. The student once asked Otsuji for a letter of recommendation and gave the sculpture as a gesture of appreciation. It serves as a reminder of the lesson of that first experience.

These days Otsuji takes a different approach to his lessons. one of his first writing prompts in class is to write about a turning point in your life. “I find if the student can connect to the subject matter, the writing pretty much takes care of itself,” Otsuji explained. “The grammar comes second.”

Otsuji is also a practicing and published poet. His recent work can be found in local publications such as Hawaii’s recognized Bamboo Ridge. As well as national literary magazines like the Sycamore review. Otsuji believes being a practitioner of your craft helps him be a better teaching.

Hawaiian Center finds new home

by Fredrene Balanay
Ka La Staff Writer

Students who need a place to study, eat lunch, meet new people or make new friends can now go to the new Huilili Ke Kukui Hawaiian Center, which recently opened its doors last month in Building 5.

“You don’t have to be Hawaiian to come to the center,” said the Center’s coordinator, Kalei Lum-Ho. “Just come.” “Even though we are called the Hawaiian Center,” Lum-Ho adds, “it is important everyone knows that anyone can come and enjoy the facilities.”

Other resources available at the Hawaiian center include services specific to Native hawaiian students through programs like Hōʻala Hou and Pōʻina Nalu. There is also a Native Hawaiian counselor who can help research native Hawaiian scholarships and educational grants. There are also cultural and career educational workshops open to everyone, both Native Hawaiian and non native Hawaiian. These workshops include arts, crafts and even subjects like how to succeed in an interview.

Regardless of its location, over the last 15 years or so since the Hawaiian center was formed, it was always a kind of space to gather on campus. “Starting in Building 7, moving to Building 20 and now Building 5, the Center has always had a space to gather,” said Lum-Ho.

For some students, the new space is better than the last one. “Well, for one reason, the new place has walls.” Says Summer Kipu, a peer mentor and current student at HonCC. “In Building 20 the walls didn’t reach the top so there was a gap between the wall and the ceiling.” Kipu said. She and fellow peer mentor Jayleen Barino agree this made it difficult for privacy or just plain being able to talk without disturbing the class or office on the opposite side of the wall.

“I also like the open glass window design of the front and the single entrance at this new center. It’s less confusing than the three different entrances we had at the old center,” Barino said.

When asked what they would miss most about the old location in Building 20, Kipu said, “I’m gonna miss the playfulness and the good memories. Sometimes, someone would say something about another person, in fun of course, then you would see a small ball coming over the wall. Good times.”

For Barino it was more personal. “When I first found Building 20, I was not only starting my education, but soon learned I was pregnant,” Barino said. “It was there I carried her inside me, and there she has been since the day she was born. She is a year and a half now. And I have pictures of her from four months old in that Center. They became family, and in a way a second home.”

According to Lum-Ho, their new neighbors will be both the financial aid office and counseling center. “This will be more convenient for the students, and make it easier for those registering and needing academic help or financial aid,” Lum-Ho shared.

However, despite the convenience of this new location, the Hawaiian Center wasn’t a part of the original relocation efforts of this project, until about three years ago.

In 2014, the now former vice chancellor of HonCC, Katie Ho, wrote the grant that started the renovation of the old building. The funding was acquired through a Title 3 grant. “Part of the Title 3 stipulates funds are given to Native Hawaiian-serving institutes to help promote and preserve the culture.” explained Lum-Ho. “It was this that prompted the relocation of the Hawaiian Center.”

Fighting suicide, Maori style

Ashley Jez

Having spent 10 days on the island of O’ahu, 16 people from New Zealand called 2FACE Drama visited local area public high schools, along with Honolulu Community College, to spread awareness on the issue of suicide awareness through skits and demonstrations.

This event was part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. HonCC hosted 2Face in collaboration with Aunty Pua Kaninau-Santos from Lili’uokalani Trust.

Sally Rye of the New Zealand group said “we are interested in working with the Indigenous cultures of the world. We believe our struggles with this issue of youth suicide are similar and in many cases stem from a loss of culture, identity and purpose. We also have a connection with Hawaii and this was our 3rd visit.”

2FACE performed skits in the HonCC cafeteria with storylines crafted to convey the message of suicide awareness, intervention and prevention. A dance showcased by the New Zealanders at the beginning of their performance was uplifting, and all about having fun. Danny Poa, one of the performers, said, “it was a lyrical dance that takes you down then brings you back up.”

“When you feel weak, believe it’s just a phase…everyone will get past it,” said Tiana Poinga, another performer. “Choosing dance can be another form of expression to help ourselves communicate how we feel.” Poinga said that people aren’t always good at expressing themselves through talking, but there are other ways like dance to express oneself.

The group was established five years ago by a group of friends that had been involved in similar social movements as teenagers. The initial message they were driving to get out was prevention of family violence and bullying in schools. But two years ago, the focus changed to raising awareness on suicide prevention when members of the group lost a sibling and a close friend to suicide. New Zealand has the highest rate of suicide in Polynesia. The other members realized that they had been impacted by this episode, along with other individual episodes they had experienced in their own lives. Charlizza Harris, founder and director of the 2FACE Drama group, lost her father to suicide when she was three years old. These events made suicide an issue close to their hearts.

Every year the group is involved with two major events. The first is the unSPOKEN word conference with young leaders throughout New Zealand over a period of a week, involving 50 youths that come together for seven weekends to put together a major production/show based on building resiliency through identity, culture and purpose. Similar to a camp, the goal is to build leaders to take initiative in communities to raise awareness about suicide prevention. The time period runs from March-June each year, with the next event starting in October and running until December. Harris is in charge of creating new stories that young people can relate to.