cafeteria at university of nations

Lunch at the University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii


lunch at university of nations kona

Darn, I wish I had shot a photograph of the large outdoor cafeteria when I went to lunch at the University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. But not enough light under the tall roof. It seemed at least 5 stories high. The space for lunch holds hundreds of people, maybe thousands of people. And the positioning of the dining space is such that a strong breeze whips through the area, cooling off even the hottest days. Not to mention, the view of the ocean is hard to beat.

I’ve never been to University of Nations, never even heard of it before I met the couple who sold us their house in Hawaii, P &G. They are missionaries from Canada who volunteer at University of Nations. This outfit works in conjunction with Youth With a Mission with outposts all over the world. The school, which began in 1978, is private with a strong focus on the beliefs of Christianity.

They suggested lunch at the University of Nations so I could experience their campus and see where they work. I very much enjoy new experiences, even if I find some aspects a bit weird. Like the day in 2006 when my husband and I toured the Mormon Temple in Sacramento. Learned a lot from that visit. You can only go on a special day when they allow visitors. California is 2nd only to Utah in the number of Mormons in the state.

It gave us more context when we attended the hilarious musical The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum in San Francisco. We already knew about the gold plates in the desert and Joseph Smith, for example. Which is how the religion began a couple hundreds years ago.

lunch at university of nations kona

Students from all over the world come to University of Nations in Kona to earn an AA degree or take specialized courses. They can bring their families, too. The AA degree, however, is not recognized by the Department of Education in the United States. It also seems expensive, but all education seems expensive these days. I come from the days of free community colleges in Orange County. Oh, right. The ’70s. Ah, yes, grasshopper, at one time the community colleges in California were free.

The University of Nations get $4,000 and up for classes, which includes food, tuition and housing.

Now, the odd thing, the way it seems to me, is the fact University of Nations collects dues from students and accepts donations. But it does not seem to pay its instructors nor anybody who works at the University. It operates on the strength of volunteers, and they offer advice to volunteers about how the volunteers can do fundraising to afford to work without pay.

I could be wrong, they could pay some sort of overhead, but it doesn’t appear that way on their website.

And according to U. S. News, Pablo M. Rivera, the Chief Financial Officer of University of Nations pled guilty last year to wire fraud. He embezzled $3.1 million from the school.

All in all, if you’d like to have lunch at University of Nations as a visitor, it is $5.00. Can’t beat that price. They offered vegetarian options, too. The lunch menu is printed in at least 7 different languages. I had a fried chicken steak topped with marinara sauce and a side salad because it looked like the best option available. But I was more interested in talking with my friends than eating.

lunch at university of nations kona

It is an enormous campus with breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. I asked my friends whether the University helps people find jobs after graduation. Nope. Students are on their own. And not surprisingly, my friend P says about 25% of the graduates do go on to become missionaries. I did not want to use their names in this blog because they seem like very private people, and I respect that.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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