Dean Sasaki Educates Russians on Community Colleges

By Christina Parlin, Kapi‘o Staff Writer

Kapiolani Community College dean of Arts and Sciences Charles Sasaki traveled to Russia in spring 2014 to reach out to Russian post-secondary education administrators and share his insights about the American community college system.

Sasaki was one of five community college teachers and administrators selected to receive a Fulbright scholarship to participate in the 2014 Russia Community College Administrators Seminar.

U.S. Fulbright Scholar delegation

U.S. Fulbright Scholar delegation

The Fulbright Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides scholarships to increase support of friendly and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries.

Russia has an extensive post-secondary education system but does not have anything equivalent to community colleges. Sasaki was selected to educate his Russian counterparts about transferable credits and courses.

“Russia is trying to internationalize their higher education system and they created this seminar because they realized there was no way they were going to succeed without having the full knowledge of how the U.S. higher education system works,” Sasaki said.

Sasaki first traveled to Moscow with his fellow scholars to meet with government, business and community leaders, and to attend formal diplomatic functions. The participants then separated across the country to areas in need of their specific expertise.

Sasaki was sent to Belgorod, which is located on the border of Russia and Ukraine.

“It’s a scary place — and challenging,” Sasaki said. “So to see all that stuff on the TV now, and to have me, a kid from Hawaii, go all the way to Russia, much less Ukraine, is amazing.”

Despite the tense atmosphere, Sasaki thrived. He was able to deliver training and facilitate workshops on education, tour schools and universities, and meet with educators from abroad. Sasaki even signed a memorandum-of-understanding with a Russian university to sent to Russian students to Honolulu.

“All I really did was go over there and tell them of all the great things that we’re doing at KCC,” Sasaki said.