The Hawaiian Study Abroad Program

#177 in the Moʻolelo series

According to Quigg (1988, 170) “from 1880 to 1887, 18 young Hawaiians – 17 men and one woman – attended schools in six countries where they studied engineering, law, foreign language, medicine, military science, engraving, sculpture, and music. Among others, the students included Robert Wilcox, who studied in Italy and later led two rebellions against the sugar oligarchy and the Republic of Hawaiʻi, Isaac Harbottle, who studied in Japan, and heir to the throne David Kawānanakoa, who studied in the US. Others studied in England, Scotland, and Canton, China (Quigg, 1988, 171).

Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox

While studying military science and engineering in Italy, Wilcox met the famous General Giuseppe Garibaldi, and recorded the Generalʻs advice in his journal:

The most important thing I wish to tell you is this: Each of you hold fast in your heart from this hour on. Know and love your fellow man. Love your King and your country, and acquire wisdom to return to governmental work of your wise King.

Quigg, 1998, 176

Garabaldiʻs advice stayed with Wilcox..

While a privilege for the young Hawaiians, the program was not without its costs, both financial and psychologically on the students. Another Hawaiian student in Italy, Robert Napuʻuako Boyd, having failed an exam, wrote to Kalākaua of his struggles to uphold his dignity in a foreign land, and of his wish to return to HawaiʻI with his studies incomplete:

Now your majesty must know the truth and nothing else but the ttruth, I am five years abroad, and during this short period I have suffered more than a man of forty; I have had vengeance, I have had a duel, and lastly I have had enemies: all for the sake of my country. Their has been times [sic] I wished to run away and beg for my living, but when I think of your kindness toward me, my passion calms quickly, and I dream of a happy future: But at last I have come to the conclusion not to suffer anymore, my studies to the present are not at all a little; and perhaps sufficient to earn my living as a gentleman; Thierfore [sic] I am ready to come home and serve thee Sire, or else I shall run away because I would rather die as a beggar than to be a slave.

Boyd in Quigg, 1998

Another participant in the study abroad program was Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole. Prince Kūhiō studied at the military academy in San Mateo, California.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole

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