By Sarah Hendrix | Staff Writer

KCC is planning to launch a new study abroad program within the next year for students to study in Ireland for 10 days. Dr. Joseph Overton, who has been a professor at KCC for the past 18 years, has already begun the process of starting this program at KCC. One of the goals in offering a study abroad program to Ireland is to provide students with the opportunity to earn college credits while traveling and studying in an international setting.

Currently this program is offered at Hawaiʻi Community College, which offers a course called GEOG 298: Cultural Ecology of Ireland. This geography course is running in the Spring 2018 semester and offers an optional study abroad experience in Ireland from May 21-31, 2018. Students do not have to be enrolled in GEOG 298 to go on the study abroad to Ireland. However, if students want the three college credits, taking the course is a prerequisite.

Overton hopes to replicate this program at KCC. Recently he did a scouting trip to Donegal, Ireland, where the Institute for Study Abroad in Ireland is located. This is the institute that hosted previous HCC students during their study abroad trip to Ireland in May 2016. Overton works with The Freeman Foundation Community College Program, which is the main study abroad program offered at KCC. He wants to continue to have study abroad programs available for KCC students, as he sees the value in students having an international experience and actively encourages them to travel abroad.

“For the students it will open up their view of the world and other cultures,” Overton said. “Don’t forget we’re in a global society now and the students are going to need a global experience in order to be successful, to get jobs and so forth.”

Educators from around the U.S. gathered in Donegal, Ireland, to talk about future study abroad programs in their schools. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Joseph Overton)

Overton met up with many educators from around the U.S. in Donegal, Ireland. They discussed opening up new study abroad programs with the Institute for Study Abroad in Ireland. Overton is of the opinion that Ireland is a great country for students to experience studying in an international setting, in a country that provides a good atmosphere for students.

“One of the advantages of Ireland is that it speaks English … it’s a relatively small country, it only has 5 million people,” Overton said. “It is very stable and people are extremely friendly. It’s a good atmosphere for students.”

Students benefit from studying abroad because it provides them with the opportunity to experience a new culture and it broadens their horizons. KCC has chosen to provide study abroad programs because it recognizes how beneficial it is for students to learn how to work cross-culturally.

Joy Racoma is a KCC student who travelled abroad to Japan with the Freeman Foundation Community College Program back in 2011. Since her experience of studying abroad in Japan, Racoma has gained a new passion for Japanese language and culture. She recalls her experience in studying abroad and the positive effect that it had on her life.

“This study abroad program literally changed my life …” said Racoma. “Learning the language and the culture, everything just kind of paved the road for me and it changed my life.”

Since being a student back in 2011, Racoma has travelled back to Japan multiple times. Now she works as an assistant teacher in the Freeman Foundation Program and desires to eventually become a Japanese teacher in the program.

For students interested in going on the upcoming study abroad to Ireland with HCC, the application due date for the Spring 2018 semester is Monday, Nov. 27. The cost of the program is $1,800, which will cover each student’s lodging, transportation and most meals. However, it does not include expenses such as airfare, tuition and insurance.

The program is open to any students or faculty within the UH system who want to experience studying abroad. To help cover expenses, students are encouraged to apply for both Gilman and Honda International scholarships. In order to run this study abroad there needs to be a minimum of 20 students confirmed and the maximum number of students is capped at 30.

For more information on the HCC Study Abroad to Ireland, students can contact Porscha dela Fuente at or visit

For more information on the KCC Study Abroad to Ireland or the Freeman Foundation Community College program, students can contact Dr. Joseph Overton at or