The History of FIUTS
The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) was incorporated as a non-profit organization on August 28, 1948, and is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the USA. FIUTS was founded by a group of University of Washington (UW) campus administrators, faculty members, and University District business leaders. Their goal was to promote global peace and understanding by extending hospitality and community connections to visiting international students.
When FIUTS began, there were 274 international students from 37 nations enrolled at the UW. The introduction of FIUTS to the community took place at the Seattle Art Museum on January 20, 1949 at a simple Welcome Tea event for international students.
Over the next four decades, volunteer hosting by local households became the core of all FIUTS activities. Other programs that emerged in the 1960's and 1970's included friendship tours around Washington State, International expos, round table discussions, community newsletters, the International Student Speakers Bureau, the weekly Wednesday Lunch, and educational outreach to local schools.
As the development of FIUTS continued, program participants reflected the international realities of the times. The Vietnam War era changed how students interacted with their community. The end of the cold war emphasized that global differences could be overcome through dialogue. Through it all, FIUTS helped volunteers and students to reach out to each other through mutual education and hospitality. Throughout these middle years, FIUTS adapted to provide emergency help and scholarships to students when needed, but its primary focus remained the promotion of cross-cultural understanding and global enrichment.
Now a well-established and respected part of the UW community, FIUTS works with thousands of students, scholars, researchers, and faculty members from hundreds of countries around the world. The FIUTS of today offers a comprehensive range of programs serving international visitors and the Puget Sound community including homestays, mentoring, leadership development, educational outreach, orientations, and cultural events. FIUTS' monthly Wednesday Lunch remains the largest regular international gathering on the UW campus.
In the midst of new and ever-changing global currents, FIUTS programs are more important than ever. Through FIUTS international visitors to Seattle can be more than a stranger in a strange land, and our local community can grow through exposure to international culture.
The dream of FIUTS' founding members continues to this day: that the seeds of peace and understanding be sown among all people.