MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - An educational event about APEC turned into a real-life lesson for college students. Noisy protestors caused some commotion on Thursday at the UH Manoa campus. The protestors marched to Campus Center to make sure they got their message across. They chanted outside the ballroom and passed out pamphlets to students.
"We need to have an open discussion about what APEC is, educate each other, and have spirited debate about it," said protestor Molly Chlebnikow, a UH graduate student. "I haven't seen that opportunity on campus. I've just seen welcome signs, welcoming events.
APEC interns from the economics department and students from the school of Travel Industry Management sponsored the educational event at the center of all the controversy. Students created displays about the culture and economy for various countries.
"People have different opinions about different things, and of course we're expecting to have protestors, people against APEC, which is fine. I think it's a learning opportunity to see what they're perspectives are," said student event coordinator Kelly Park.
"We're about promoting that kind of dialogue. Actually, we had a meeting this morning with the students and they were really kind of excited. They wanted to show all points of view," said economics professor Denise Konan.
The university stepped up security, but the demonstration remained peaceful. With world leaders arriving soon, both sides hope to raise awareness and generate discussion.
"To open up the debate, to understand that there is a lot of complexities to APEC and there's a lot of injustices that come from APEC's policies and the decisions that get made in these forums. So I just think there's a lack of awareness by students," said Chlebnikow.
"I can understand. I guess globalization is kind of a contentious issue in general, but I think as students we're just trying to showcase what APEC is," said APEC student intern Austin Rochon.