THE aloha spirit of the Hawaiian islands was in the air at the International Association of East-West Center Alumni, Chapter of Malaysia, annual reunion at Aroi Dee Thai Restaurant, Palm Garden Hotel, Putrajaya.
The event was attended by about 30 members, including spouses, many of whom came dressed for the occasion in Hawaiian shirts and the traditional dress, muumuu.
East-West Center (EWC) is an education and research organisation established in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the people and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States, and is located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Upon arrival, guests were welcomed Hawaiian-style, with a lei. They then tucked into a delicious spread of Thai food while dessert included macadamia-covered chocolates, which the islands are famous for.
Hawaiian music played in the background as members, some of whom had not seen each other for years, reminisced about the good old days. Guests also took home island-themed keychains as keepsakes.
Organising committee chairman and chapter president Dr Mohd Khanif Yusop said EWC had provided a unique inter-cultural experience for the Malaysian participants of various races who pursued degree programmes at the University of Hawaii or participated in other programmes at the centre.
“This intercultural experience has been very valuable, especially for a multiracial country like Malaysia.”
Dr Mohd Khanif said the alumni had a lot of skills and expertise which they aim to share to benefit society.
“This is our way of thanking EWC which gave so many of us a chance to further our education overseas.”
Honorary secretary Dr Gan Siowck Lee said the Chapter was formed in 1988 to maintain ties among EWC alumni in Malaysia.
“Since then we have carried out various educational projects, including English Magazines for Rural Schools (Emas) and environmental education and tree planting projects for schools in Selangor, in collaboration with the United States Information Service and the Malaysian Nature Society respectively.
“We are exploring the possibility of reviving the Emas project to help rural schools.”
Those who would like to join the chapter can email email@example.com.
Go to www.facebook.com/EWCAlumniMalaysia/, ewcalumnimalaysia.blogspot.com or eastwestcenter.org for information.