Global Vision Summit: The People of COFA

December 01, 2018

PAAC's Fall Global Vision Summit sought to raise awareness of the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) agreements, increase understanding of what many COFA migrants experience in Hawai'i, and highlight the rich cultures that comprise the COFA nations. 168 students from 25 schools on O'ahu, Moloka'i, Kaua'i, and the Big Island attended.


What is COFA?
The Compacts of Free Association (COFA) are agreements between the United States and three Pacific Island nations: the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Through the COFA agreements, citizens of these countries can migrate to the United States without a visa in exchange for economic subsidies and U.S. military access to their islands.  While many COFA migrants come to Hawai'i for employment, health care, or education, they also face many difficulties, including racial prejudice and a lack of interpreters and translators. 

Promoting Understanding of Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan Communities


After an informative primer on COFA by Dr. Julie Walsh of the Center for Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, students participated in breakout sessions on issues and culture.

  • * Racial discrimination against Micronesians
  • * Health care issues for COFA migrants
  • * The legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands
  • * Experiences of living in Hawai'i told by COFA youth 
  • * Cultures of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae

During the cultural learning session, students participated in activities such as interactive dances, storytelling, weaving, and language. 

See more pictures from this Summit in our Gallery.

Student Impact
For PAAC students interested in international affairs and global citizenship, the COFA agreements illustrate how international diplomacy directly impacts our local communities.

 “I didn’t know anything about COFA or the discrimination against Micronesians before this summit.”

“It gave me a valuable, new perspective.”

“The most important thing I learned 'is that there are people that actually care about the well-being of Micronesians.'"  (From a COFA student)  

Mahalo to Our Special Event Sponsors:
Matson Giving
Pacific Asian Management Institute, Shidler College of Business, UHM 

Catch our next Global Vision Summit on March 30, 2019 at Hawaii Pacific University where we discuss the topic of Nuclear Proliferation.