In recent years, HBA has been expanding its outreach to international students. This year, there are a number of them at the high school and the admissions department hopes to see more.
Two new freshmen from South Korea enrolled at the start of the year. Mina Kwon left behind her immediate family and middle school friends to attend HBA. Her move was made possible by having relatives in Hawaii, whom she is currently living with. “It is kind of hard for Korean students to study abroad unless they have family living in that place,” she said. Similarly, Olivia Choi, the other freshman from South Korea, decided to move here because she has an aunt and uncle who live in Hawaii.
The HBA admissions team has been reaching out to Korean families as part of its goal to grow HBA’s international student cohort. Patricia Li, Admissions Director for the middle and high school, wrote, “Our international events, akin to HBA’s Admissions Open House, provide a platform for parents to engage with various schools, fostering a deeper understanding of HBA.” However, Li notes that “word of mouth serves as [the] primary avenue of connection.” As for why she thinks Hawaii is an attractive location for Korean families, Li said, “I think Korean people have an idea of Hawaii being very safe, and also a very good opportunity to study in America and go to university in the States.”
The application process for international students is no different than the one U.S. students undergo, and international applicants have to meet English-proficiency standards. HBA does not offer a separate academic track for international students so they are fully immersed into the HBA student experience from Day 1.
While there currently are no HBA housing options for the students, Li hopes that there will be a small dorm available in the near future. For now, if the need arises, the school may help by looking for HBA families who are interested in hosting international students.
Li believes that HBA is a good fit for international students. She cites the school’s small class sizes and caring faculty as its strengths. For Kwon and Choi, these are their favorite aspects of HBA. Choi said, “I like that every teacher teaches passionately. And they always make sure that we learned the main point of the lesson.” Kwon agreed, saying, “All of the teachers are so kind and friendly. When I had a hard time adapting in HBA at the beginning of the school year, the teachers helped me a lot. They are so kind.”
When asked about whether or not Kwon and Choi would like to see more international students, they both enthusiastically replied with a yes, and expressed how they would absolutely recommend HBA to international students.