Professional writing or activity of note: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa alumnus Sakaria “Sai” Auelua-Toomey has been named one of the Luce Scholars for 2017. The Luce Scholars Program identifies promising young leaders for a yearlong experience of working in Asia. Seventy-five top universities across the United States nominate up to three candidates annually. Sai, as he is known, is one of approximately 175 nominees who were considered from across the United States, with about 45 making the final interviews in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York. About 15 Luce Scholars selected from that pool of finalists annually.
Why did you choose DKI APCSS for your internship? My research interests are within perception and its influences on decision-making and communication. In the summer of 2015, I went on a research trip to Thailand with the John A. Burns School of Medicine to address HIV infection risks within transgender women through inclusion. I was fascinated on how the socio-cultural factors influenced HIV risk within the affected community, and how the perception of inclusion within healthcare reduced HIV infection risks. This was my first experience of actually applying what I had learned to facilitate appropriate care for a community, and I wanted to gain more experience within intercultural communication. Dr. James Campbell was a mentor during that project, and I knew of his experience at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. He explained to me the mission of facilitating effective communication between nations through mutual respect, inclusion, and transparency. And from there I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing organization.
What is the most interesting part of being an intern at DKI APCSS? Hands down, it has to be the diverse perspectives. I have never been part of a program in which I get to learn about so many views. I love to hear how a single situation can be interpreted in so many different ways, and it really provides me the opportunity to understand the fellows more intimately. I think it’s really fascinating, and it really reinforces the importance of understanding you neighbor’s perspective in communication.
How do you plan to use what you learned here in your future career? I definitely plan to share what I have learned here with my host country during my program in Asia and with future destinations. I truly believe that the unique culture of inclusion at APCSS and Hawaii is an important idea to share to facilitate progressive international relationships. And if we can get the rest of the world to wear aloha shirts, we can definitely break down some barriers.