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Celebrating community-campus connections at Pālamanui

Note: This column appeared as part of the Kauhale News section in West Hawaii Today on April 8, 2021. 

Aloha, 

Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui and the University Center, West Hawai‘i have been at the current location in North Kona for almost six years after moving from Kealakekua. It’s been such a blessing to watch the connections  members of our community are making with our campus, sometimes in unique and unexpected ways. 

Photo of KaleiOne example is a gentleman named Akinori Imai, a 92-year-old former teacher who enrolled in the Writing Personal History class taught by Dr. Richard Stevens. 

Aki liked the class so much that he has taken it for 10 years now. He is almost like a co-teacher, and he has published four books of his own personal history that can be found in our Library and Learning Center. He brings his wisdom and experience to class, which he shares with his younger classmates. Aki also brings his camera, documents the class and shares the photos with fellow students. Last, but not least, he shares food, which his fellow students now call “Aki snacks.” 

Another example is an alumnus, Michael Schloffel, who I personally remember meeting with as an academic counselor as he was enrolling. Michael earned his associate degree in liberal arts and a certificate of completion in environmental studies, graduating in 2014. 

Now, years later, Michael has been volunteering his time to help mālama the campus. He volunteered on a fencing project that protects valuable trees, and he has helped build stone structures that enhance the native Hawaiian trail network adjacent to campus. 

Finally, we have another community member, Les Au, who has, in a sense, adopted a lauhala tree that is prominent on our campus. He uses the leaves for weaving and helps maintain the tree. Les donated a mat he wove, which can be found in the Library and Learning Center, literally weaving himself and others into the life of our campus. 

These are examples of true aloha that bring a richness to our campus. There are many ways to be involved, whether as a degree-seeking student or a community supporter. I invite you to get to know us and be a part of our Pālamanui ‘ohana. 

Mahalo, 

Raynette “Kalei” Haleaumau-Kam, Interim Director of Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui and the University Center, West Hawai‘i