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Faces of FIUTS

Faces of FIUTS is a new campaign that collects personal stories from individuals who are part of our work. Follow FIUTS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see new faces every two weeks. All posts are collected on this page.

No matter what your role - alumni, homestay host, current student, program partner - we'd love to feature your story in a future post! To take part, email Ellen Frierson at or fill out the form to submit your information.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Bing

Where are you from?
I come from Kuantan, a coastal city in Malaysia. Growing up in Malaysia, spending 19 years of my lifetime there, I recognize myself as Malaysian Chinese. "Above Singapore, below Thailand" is how we Malaysians always describe the location of our country.

What’s your FIUTS story?
My first experience with FIUTS was performing at CulturalFest my freshman year with the dance group Tanak Borneo. In my sophomore year, I became a lot more involved with three different FIUTS committees. The thing I learned the most about from FIUTS is cross-cultural understanding. Even though I grew up in a multicultural country, people are still separated by culture. I grew up mostly around people from one background, and when I started to meet people from different backgrounds, my mindset started to change.

How will you change the world?
I want to contribute to making PEACE in this world by inspiring people with the most important FIUTS value that I have learnt: embracing difference. As a multicultural country, citizens in Malaysia are not 100% united. Racism is still a huge issue. Even though my contribution is small, I still wish to influence as many people as I can. I may not change the world, but I'll persist in spreading love.

Bing Yu Lee is a sophomore from Malaysia, majoring in geology and oceanography. He has performed at FIUTS CulturalFest and served on the Community Programs, Global Gala, and CulturalFest Expo committees.

Photo Credit: Lucy Deng

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Manjot

Where are you from?
I was born in Punjab, India and I lived there until I was about 11 or 12. After moving to the United States and living here for the last seven years or so, I always have a difficult time when I am asked where I am from. I consider both India and US my home because of all the memories I have made.

What's your FIUTS story?
I became involved with FIUTS before I started classes at UW, roughly two years ago. Knowing how large UW was, I wanted to be a part of a smaller, close-knit community that I could always rely on. And FIUTS provided me with so much more than what I could have ever imagined. I have met so many wonderful people and have learned so many things from people around the world. Every day working with FIUTS is a new opportunity for me to talk to someone from another part of the world, which I truly enjoy.

How will you change the world?
Currently, my plan is to become a physician to improve patient experience as they undergo treatment. It has been a long-term goal of mine, from even before I moved to US. But, to achieve this end, I need to be able to communicate effectively with patients from various backgrounds. FIUTS has played a key role in helping me understand the different perspectives people from around the world bring.

Manjot Singh is a sophomore double majoring in Bioengineering and Public Health. He has been a work-study assistant in the FIUTS office for almost two years, and also volunteers as a FIUTS Facilitator.


lissy board photo

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Lissy

Where are you from?
I grew up in Frankfurt, Germany, raised as a first-generation German to French and Austrian parents. I moved to the U.S. when I was 17 to study in a small Wisconsin High-School for a year, arriving with one suitcase, leaving everything familiar behind. Since then I have been addicted to learning about the world.

What's your FIUTS story?
FIUTS has enabled me to make friends from places I did not know existed, bringing me closer to understanding that we are essentially the same while celebrating our differences. Some of my best friends today were made at orientation camp, hiking a muddy trail to Mount Pilchuck, jet-lagged and absolutely soaked. The secret ingredients to making friends were revealed: sharing food, drinks, laughter and tears, stories to just keep us going. Making it back safely together is what makes the difference, regardless of where you are from.

How will you change the world?
My mission to change the world is to be fearless and to reduce ignorance. People are often afraid of the unknown. My implementation path is simple: Talking to strangers, asking for help, providing assistance whenever I can, learning and sharing the lessons and appreciating people for their kindness, curiosity and willingness to step outside their comfort zone. Basically, what we did on Mt. Pilchuck.

Lissy Rabusseau graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 with a Master's degree in Women Studies. She served on the FIUTS Board of Trustees for 6 years, including as President of the FIUTS Student Board, and helped welcome many international students to Seattle.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Farrah

Where are you from?
I was born, raised and now working as a high-school teacher in Nickerie, the second largest city in Suriname. My roots stem from Indonesian immigrants, who were brought here by the Dutch, to work at the plantations. I am proud to be part of Suriname, a country that gives us enough room for our multi-cultural heritage.

What's your FIUTS story?
I came to FIUTS as a mentor for the Youth Ambassadors Program for the Caribbean (YAC) in 2016. FIUTS has opened my eyes in student-involvement and volunteerism, two subjects that haven’t been developed yet in my country. I found it amazing, the way FIUTS is working for the students, trough the students. Instead of treating youngsters as inexperienced, FIUTS is treating them with mutual understanding and respect.

How will you change the world?
I live in a country where it is part of our culture that adults don’t need to listen to children. As a dean and a teacher in Basic Life Skills, I want to help change that perspective by showing my fellow teachers that we need to start having a different approach towards students. We can do that by involving them in activities for the community, giving them a sense of freedom to take action, trusting their creative abilities and guiding them through the process in order to help shape them into better human beings, which will eventually result in a better citizens.

Farrah Kartosentiko is a teacher in Suriname. She was an adult participant in the 2016 Youth Ambassadors Program with the Caribbean.

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Bader

Where are you from?
I grew up in Kuwait City, Kuwait. I moved to the U.S. when I was 18 to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Washington. I am now living in New York City, pursuing a master's degree at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What's your FIUTS story?
It is difficult for me to narrow down my FIUTS experience to a few words. I became involved with FIUTS as a freshman, hoping to meet other students from all over the world. It was through my four years with FIUTS that I found many of my college friends. FIUTS was there for me before I even set foot on the UW campus.

How will you change the world?
I aspire to become an applied anthropologist, collaborating with other educators to enhance the experience of diverse students at schools. FIUTS has enabled me to become a more well-informed and culturally sensitive individual.

Bader Alfarhan ('16) graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. While at FIUTS, he served on several committees and helped welcome many international students to Seattle.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Brooke

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Washington. I have lived here at the University of Washington for four years, but my parents live and work in Tacoma. My cultural background is Korean; my parents were both born in South Korea. I’ve visited there a few times, but have lived the majority of my life here in Washington.

What’s your FIUTS story?
I first got involved with FIUTS as an Ambassador for the SUSI program. It was a transformative experience. I’d always thought of myself as an open-minded person, but it was a different experience to really get to know people from other places and have real conversations about politics, culture, music, and much more. I still keep in touch with the SUSI students. It’s amazing to have their friendship in different parts of the world – any time of day, there’s always someone to talk to.

How will you change the world?
My goal is to become a physician and work with underserved minority communities as a family doctor.  I’m also interested in global health and would like to do trips with Doctors Without Borders someday. I hope to use my experience with FIUTS to bridge cultural gaps; I’ve developed a lot of communication skills that aren’t about language, that I hope will help me make connections with people from around the world.

Brooke Byun is a University of Washington senior majoring in Biochemistry and Communication, minoring in English. She was a UW Student Ambassador for the FIUTS Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) in 2016 and 2017.

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Daniel

Where are you from?
I lived most of my life in Mexico City, however I have also spent some time in Cologne, Germany and now in Seattle.To tell the truth, it just seems home is wherever you want it to be.

What’s your FIUTS story?
FIUTS welcomed me since my first year in Seattle, becoming a space to meet people from different cultures and exchange good moments. Besides from cool experiences, my best FIUTS memory was performing as a mariachi in last year's CulturalFest. Actually, after the presentation I was invited to a primary school to teach Mexican music, it was definitely a fun and enriching experience. This year I will sing again, don't miss CulturalFest this Saturday!

How will you change the world?
As a traveler and a professional, I will seek to share the same values that FIUTS spreads, promoting the mutual understanding and collaboration between people of different cultures, backgrounds and mindsets. It is always fun to both share our experiences and learn from each other, otherwise how can we truly grow as human beings?

Daniel Kapellman is studying for his Master of Science in Information Management at the UW Information School. He is a returning performer at the FIUTS CulturalFest Performance Showcase.

Photo credit: Lucy Deng

Face of FIUTS: Meet Kyki

Where are you from?
I'm from China, I'm a Chinese citizen. But on a cultural level, I'm also from all the places I've visited, because I've taken a part of all of them with me. I've studied, volunteered, and lived abroad in the U.S., Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Nepal, France, and Turkey. So I identify as a world citizen.

What's your FIUTS story?
During the first week of my freshman year, I was in the HUB and I realized I'd lost my credit card. My phone was dying and I was desperate and I didn't know anyone. I saw the FIUTS office and I went in and asked for help. The staff offered me comfort and a phone charger and helped me, and I realized that this was a safe space where I could be vulnerable, a welcoming place.

How will you change the world?
One goal for me is to keep growing and learning and willing to share what I learn. I want to fight against ignorance, and one of the ways I think I can do that is potentially to be involved in higher education, maybe to be a professor to build a safe but challenging space to support people's growth.

Jiaqi (Kyki) Li is a junior anthropology and dance major at the University of Washington. She is a current member of the FIUTS Student Board.


Face of FIUTS: Meet Rea

Where are you from?
I'm originally from a little village called Bobonong. But I grew up in a town called Francistown, the second largest city in Botswana. That's home too.

What's your FIUTS story?
When I applied for the SUSI program, it was the first application to anything that I had been completely honest in. FIUTS SUSI has been a stepping stone to me accepting me for me and being truthful for the first time. When I stand in front of people, I don't need to be afraid that I'm going to mess up, that I need to look a certain type of way. I can just be me. Because that's what got me here.

How will you change the world?
I want to teach people to accept their own story, despite the many negatives that might come with it. Our true stories should be our motivation to do everything that we set our minds to.

Tshegofatso Realeboga (Rea) Phatshwane is a participant in the FIUTS Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Civic Engagement 2017. She studies psychology and sociology at the University of Botswana.



Face of FIUTS: Meet Michel

Where are you from?
I come from Iquique, a city in northern Chile. It is the perfect mix between dessert, ocean, and Mediterranean weather.

What's your FIUTS story?
FIUTS is more than making friends, creating community and advocating for other international students. FIUTS has helped me develop my leadership skills, not only as part of an organization, but also an asset in my career as an educator. Through FIUTS educational programs I have had the chance to work with K-6 elementary students in their schools, not only presenting my own culture, but also assisting staff and coordinating groups of international students.

How will you change the world?
My plan to change the world starts in the preparation of new teachers. As an educator myself, FIUTS has given me the opportunity to explore how culturally sensitive and responsive new teachers must be within their schools and in their communities, especially when interacting and working with students who come from different parts of the world. This will be one of my ultimate goals in life.

Michel Riquelme Sanderson is a current UW student pursuing a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education. He has been a FIUTS facilitator, a member of the Student Board, and a K-12 Education Programs volunteer.

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San Juan Island Global Getaway May 27, 2017 - May 29, 2017 — San Juan Island
Culture Conversation Group May 30, 2017 05:30 PM - 07:30 PM — HUB 337
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