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by Stacia Garlach, Alumnews editor

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Honolulu is fast approaching, and the University of Hawai‘i System is abuzz with preparations for the largest international event in the state’s history.

“APEC gives us a global spotlight and highlights our strength as an international university,” said UH System President M.R.C. Greenwood. “We are at the forefront of knowledge in key and innovative areas that are central to APEC.” As a member of the non-profit APEC 2011 Hawai‘i Host Committee, Greenwood has pledged the university to actively support APEC in many ways. 

“We have a strong heritage and tradition of scholarship in the Asia-Pacific region and are well positioned to provide expertise in support of APEC,” said Denise Eby Konan, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Economics professor and chair, and Greenwood’s senior adviser on APEC.

  How UH is helping with APEC
In addition to planning and hosting conferences, coordinating the volunteer effort and compiling alumni stories, UH will also be involved in many other aspects of the APEC summit, including:
  • Promoting UH and highlighting its contribution to greater regional cooperation during APEC
  • Developing an APEC Experts Guide, featuring key scholars from the UH System
  • Producing a UH website with university events, volunteer opportunities and training, UH resources (experts and briefings), education and outreach about APEC
  • Supporting APEC Hawai‘i 2011 Host Committee on Economic Development and Key Industries of Hawai‘i
  • Featuring music, dance and art of APEC and Hawaiian cultures
  • Creating a UH Mānoa library exhibition featuring unique, APEC-related collections with a corresponding lecture series
  • Producing an APEC-related media database of student works

Helpful links on APEC
 
UH’s forte in Asia-Pacific scholarship will be critical in preparing for November’s meeting of leaders from APEC’s 21 member economies, which could bring upwards of 20,000 visitors to Hawai‘i. Last December, during the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting at the East-West Center, U.S. officials set three key priority areas to increase economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region for the 2011 summit:
  • Strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade
  • Promoting green growth
  • Expanding regulatory cooperation and advancing regulatory convergence
“It’s interesting, because if you look at APEC member economies, there are a lot of disputes, perhaps, or long histories of disagreement on some issues,” said Konan. “But they all agree that we want vibrant economies, we want that to lead to balanced development for populations. I think that’s partly why APEC has been successful as a stage for discussion.”

With that stage being set in Hawai‘i this year, the state and its only public higher education system will have an opportunity to shine. Konan said, “The kinds of topics that are going to be worked on here are going to help shape the future, and Hawai‘i has a big stake.”

The university’s collective expertise in the key priority areas of APEC Hawai‘i 2011 makes it well-equipped to play integral roles in the scholarship, planning and preparation, and volunteer training necessary to make the event a success.

The UH System will help coordinate several conferences and meetings leading up to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, including: “This is a great opportunity to celebrate everything we are doing so well for Asia-Pacific issues,” said Konan. “We’re finding that APEC coming is uniting us in so many ways.”

Denise Eby Konan
The university will also take the lead in volunteer training and coordination for APEC events. UH will develop and administer training sessions in coordination with the APEC Hawai‘i Host Committee to prepare upwards of 2,000 volunteers.

“There’s a lot of confidentiality involved, security issues, hospitality issues, and also multicultural sensitivities, international sensitivities and protocols. So the training needs to be at an extremely high level,” said Konan. “It’s also a business meeting. So things have to be efficient, they have to be friendly, with that aloha spirit, but we also have to be able to deliver service when the pressure’s on. Volunteers are going to be a big part of that.”

In addition, UH Mānoa Outreach College plans to focus its 2011 Summer Sessions on “Advancing Asia-Pacific” in preparation for the APEC summit.

“We’ve identified some real experts on APEC within the (UH) campuses and outside the campuses, and we’re bringing them together to offer a suite of courses,” Konan said.

From May-August, Outreach College will draw from the diverse resources of the university and community to present a dynamic summer of lectures, films, performances, noncredit workshops, and certificate programs for high school and university students. These programs will provide venues for learning about the issues, discussing a wide variety of viewpoints, and cooperating toward greater international understanding.

The UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business will also offer APEC-related initiatives to educate the business community on APEC. Its Pacific Asian Management Institute (PAMI) / Center for International Business Education and Research is planning a series of seminars, articles, websites and activities, including the Pacific Asian Lecture Series and Paul Chung Lecture, and will offer PAMI Certificate courses in the summer. Students and business leaders can also participate in the APEC Business Advisory Council.

APEC 2011 Leaders’ Week
Hawai‘i Convention Center • Honolulu, HI

Nov. 8–9
Nov. 10
Nov. 11
Nov. 12–13
Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting
Finance Ministers’ Meeting
APEC Ministerial Meeting
APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting
 
Beyond the university’s educational initiatives for APEC, Konan said the summit will also give UH an opportunity to “showcase our alumni, because that’s what makes us most proud.”

UH is currently searching for its alumni who have gone on to make a significant impact in the APEC region to share with the APEC delegation. We are looking for alumni stories about the role UH played in their lives, how it helped shape who they are and what they do today, special memories they may have, and if they plan to participate in the APEC summit.

“We would really love to showcase to the APEC delegation and the international press and media that will be here that our university has had a huge impact in APEC countries,” said Konan. “We really have!”

Konan said the university also welcomes alumni input and counsel on Hawai‘i and the UH being a host. She is interested in hearing alumni input on those taken-for-granted cultural aspects that might make Hawai‘i well-suited to host APEC, as well as perceptions about how UH can contribute to its success.

If you are interested in contributing your ideas or alumni stories to the UH alumni project for APEC, please complete the online form at UHalumni.org/APECalumni.