Kapi'olani Community College professor to receive Peace Corps service award

Kapiʻolani Community College
Posted: Jun 26, 2008

Kapiʻolani Community College Professor Linda Fujikawa was among 11 recipients of the biennial Peace Corps Franklin H. Williams Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. held on June 19, 2008.

For the past 20 years, Fujikawa has been a professor of Japanese language arts at Kapi‘olani Community College. In 1998, she created KCC‘s International Café, a service learning program that helps local and international students learn about other cultures and languages.

"I noticed pockets of students at the cafeteria and saw nowhere for people to mix. I wanted to create a safe space for people to get to know each other," she says of her motivation to establish the Café. "We created a hangout but added a component of service learning—service not only to each other academically, but also to the community."

Service opportunities at the International Café include tutoring at the college, helping local public schools, assisting seniors at the local hospital, reading and tutoring to children at a homeless transition center, developing local and international students as resource specialists for the college and community, and sharing international folk tales, news, art, song, and dance. The Café began with 10 members in 1998. Last semester, 150 students took part in its activities.

Fujikawa cites her Peace Corps experience teaching English in Korea from 1976 to 1978 as a source of inspiration for her current work in language and cultural diplomacy.

"Peace Corps taught me that it‘s not just about what you give—it‘s a two-way street," she says. "It‘s the same with this Café. By giving, you get so much more. It‘s about making a life rather than just going to school and getting by."

Established in 1999, the Franklin H. Williams Award honors Peace Corps alumni of color who continue the Peace Corps mission at home through their community service and who promote a better understanding here the U.S. of other peoples around the world. The award is named for the former U.S. ambassador to Ghana who was instrumental in assisting the first Peace Corps director, Sargent Shriver, in advancing the agency‘s mission across the globe.