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Professor, Students Team up to  Change the World

    By Sanjeev Ranabhat. May 8, 2014 - 3:31 pm

Sanjeev Rana

Last Thursday, HPU marketing Professor Dr. Thomas Kohler, HPU students and community members gathered for a talk and showcase of student projects on Travel2change at the Capital One Café.

Travel2change, a non-profit, founded in 2011 by Dr. Kohler are advocates for the idea of making a positive impact while traveling. The website, is a platform for the hosts and traveling enthusiasts who post their ideas about how to change a host place in a positive way, and is subsequently redefining the meaning of traveling.

“The travel2change community created more than 100 trip ideas and traveled to put their ideas into action in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Peru and Brazil,” the website states.

Thursday’s program was the result of contributions from around 40 people, mostly HPU students who worked on the projects incorporated in Travel2change. Some projects involved connecting with more people, researching the market, using online media for marketing and evaluating the results.

Travel2change Hawaii was completely student driven,” Dr. Kohler said. “The project provided a great opportunity for experiential learning to develop the skills relevant for today’s marketers.”

Sanjeev Rana

Maraeura Wenke Yvan, 25, International business major, from Tahiti has been involved with Travel2change since 2011. She shared her experience volunteering with travel2change with Kalamalama.

“We created the promotional video, we implemented the crowd sourcing you know, activity around travel2change, we also did a lot of workshops to introduce Travel2change to students at HPU, but also to local communities such as non-profits.”

Being a part of Travel2change, Yvan said she learned a great deal about networking and marketing, in addition to improving her communication skills.

“It requires a lot of time and effort and motivation but at the end it’s all worth it because you are creating something that could benefit local communities and travelers,” she said.

Students also presented their videos and ideas of traveling, which to many of the people gathered was the highlight of the program.

Sanjeev Rana

Linda Klimkeit, a senior marketing student from Germany, showcased her film “Let’s clean the ocean!” Her video was shot in Big Island and showed turtles entangled with plastics, a major environmental issue.

Klimkeit is passionate about diving, which lead to the idea of cleaning the ocean while diving and snorkeling. The project would result in making a change while having fun at the same time.

Another student who participated with a video was Ole Andreas Vekve. His idea for making a change involved inspiring children to clean the beaches in Kahuku. Vekve presented a project where kids would make use of the garbage from the beach to make “garbage art”.

During the program, Laurien Helfrich-Nuss, the program manger of the Cubanakoa Foundation was invited for a round-table talk to share her ideas and experiences with the audience.

The Cubanakoa Foundation is based in Honolulu, an conducts similar tours to Cuba for cultural and research purposes while promoting cultural exchange and interaction between Cuba, Hawaii and other Pacific nations.

Helfrich-Nuss shared her idea of an historic and cultural tour starting at the sugar plantation in Waipahu and ending in Makaha. The tour would stop by the organic farms in Waianae, and ride on a historic rail from Ewa Beach along the coast to Waianae.

“In one way you are learning about different ahupua’as, coastal lines and mountains, the history of the place,” she said.  “It is the most densely populated place in the world for native Hawaiians. If that’s not significant for someone coming to Hawaii, I don’t know what it is?”

Sanjeev Rana

Helfrich-Nuss said that her sustainable-travel idea will provide the travelers with a great learning experience in terms of history, but also about the resilience of Hawaiian people as they are trying to preserve their culture. Preservation both in terms of sustainable farming, but also by buying local produce from Waianae, which can give revenues directly to the local population.

“If you want to create change in places, it’s not going [to happen] through staying in hotels or [spending money] at big corporate businesses,” she said.

Professor Kohler and his students are working hard to promote Travel2Change all around the globe, hoping that traveling sustainably will change the world one day.

Making a positive change is not difficult. As Kohler says, “even when you’re on a [regular] vacation you can still make a difference. Even if it’s just picking up trash along the beach or a hike, you’re still benefitting the destination and making a difference.”

To learn more about travel2change and to get involved visit:

To read more about Cubanako Foundation (and to get 10% off at the Soul De Cuba Restaurant for HPU students only) please visit: 

All photos by Ryan Hung.