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Host Profile: Martin pays it forward

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 27, 2015 01:31 PM |
Meet Martin, who has been hosting FIUTS students for 26 years!

We love our homestay hosts and are proud to have a big and diverse hosting community! FIUTS hosts come from around the world, live all over the Puget Sound region, and range from first-time volunteers to hosts who have been welcoming students to their homes for decades.

This month we're featuring a profile of one of our most dedicated hosts. Read on to learn about why Martin has been hosting students through FIUTS for almost three decades!

Host Name: Martin Bickeboeller

Location: Lake City

How long have you hosted students through FIUTS? 26 years

What countries have you hosted students from? Australia, Austria, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Réunion, Sweden, Scotland, Switzerland

What made you decide to host? I was myself a FIUTS student from 1982 - 1986, love the experience and believe in giving back. I enjoy the excitement and curiosity of the students and their thankfulness being invited into my family. They are giving back a lot with respect sharing about their countries and customs. I believe this low level of exchange greatly helps us to become one community of nations, reducing adversarial aspects.

What’s your favorite local place to bring your host students? One place in Winter is Kerry Park on Lower Queen Anne overlooking downtown. The students love to take pictures from this place.

What’s your favorite activity to do with your host students? Thanksgiving dinner with the students, the weekend before the actual day. By this time the students have gotten accustomed to the University and the town and can share a lot of their perspectives and experiences. At the same, the feel a great tradition first hand. I always invite them to come early to prepare the meal together.

Has a host student ever cooked a dish from their home country to share with you? Most of the students have cooked meals from their home country after getting recipes from their grandmothers. This ranged from a super hot Chinese full meal with many dishes from Wuhan and Shanghai to Swedish meatballs, Spaetzle, Polish sausages, and many other foreign dishes. The students have a love / hate relationship to this idea. Many are not very experienced cooks and want to shine, all succeed in their way, some after considerable worries. And it allows us to laugh together.

What's your favorite part of U.S. culture to share with your host students? The openness of bringing in guests, as shown with Thanksgiving.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned from your hosting experience? Paying forward with donating your time brings unexpected rewards. An example. In the early 1990's we hosted a student Thorsten from Germany. We picked him up from the airport with both my young daughers at that time in the car. Nearly 20 years later, Thorsten picked up one of my daughters in his car from the airport in Germany to host her for a few days before she moved into a dorm at a German University. He had 2 young daughters in his car for the pickup. We have many other experiences in unexpected ways. Connections across the world are so rewarding.

Have you stayed in touch with any of your host students long-term? With some of the students we have great contacts, others we have lost the connection. But sometimes they come back. A couple years ago our student from Finland showed up unannounced at my door, 15 years later.

Thanksgiving 2014 with the current FIUTS Students, I did not host all. Top row from Left: Luyi, Nick, Bowan, Joe (all from China), Ben (Australia), Peter (Sweden), Maria (Ireland), Dominique (Germany), Martin, Bottom Row, neighbor Frank, Sam (son-in-law), Marisa (daughter), Basia (Partner)


Thank you, Martin, for being a part of FIUTS! If you're a FIUTS host and would like to be profiled in this blog, click here. Interested in becoming a host? Learn more about our Homestay and Friendship Programs here.

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FIUTS CulturalFest 2015: A look behind the scenes

The CulturalFest Performance Showcase takes a lot of work to put together. Here's how it happens!

By Sascha Krause, FIUTS Facilitator

Every year the FIUTS community organizes CulturalFest to celebrate the diversity and talent that international students bring to the UW and the Pacific Northwest. However, this event would not be possible without the help of the FIUTS staff, many UW students, and the UW international community, who work very hard behind the scenes. This blog entry should give you a little impression about the committee work to organize such an event.

This year’s event kicks off with the International Expo on Thursday February 26 from 10:30 AM-3:00 PM at Husky Union Building (HUB). International students and volunteers share insights into their cultures and countries. On Saturday, February 28 the festival continues at 5:00 PM with a Reception and Silent Auction followed by a Performance Showcase at Meany Hall with cultural dance, music, and singing performances from all around the world (tickets are available here).

Back in October, I joined the performance committee which is involved in recruiting, selecting, organizing, and supervising different performance crews from the UW community. So far it was a great experience for me and I made many new friends. But let’s start from the beginning.

A very diverse performance planning committee was created under the leadership of MinhTu Nguyen and Thilini Kahandawaarachchi. I was impressed by our team’s different cultural backgrounds and study experiences that formed and excellent basis to organize the Performance Showcase for CulturalFest 2015. One of our early mile stones on the way to an awesome event required some advertisement to get people and groups from UW to participate. We had lots of fun posting flyers all over the U-District, chalking the campus, and spreading the word when and wherever possible. All our efforts were rewarded by over 35 performance applications from groups and individuals connected to the UW.

Now everybody was looking forward to see and evaluate the performers and their shows. It was amazing to see how much talent is out there in the UW community. We held auditions over three days to help us to decide on the final participants list. During that time Brianna, one of the FIUTS staff members, took care of us so we could focus on the performances.

Almost done, that’s what I thought! But with all this great talent how should we ever make a fair selection of performers for the show? Well, after an afternoon with pizza and long heated discussions we were finally satisfied with the list of performers. Although I have traveled a lot in my life, I learned so much about other countries throughout this process.

Winter break! Short time to recover and prepare for the next tasks to come!

Right after the winter break the performance committee members had to decide on the line up of performances and individual responsibilities for different performance groups. It was great to discuss and think about the flow and composition of the final event, especially how the audience might respnd to it. Now we are working hard on promoting the event that many people can experience a trip around the world in just one evening.

Thank you FIUTS, the committee members, the UW international community for such a great experience so far. I hope it continues like this…

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Meet the Winter Interns

Posted by FIUTS Blogger at Jan 20, 2015 12:56 PM |
Get to know Misaki and Juri, the new and wonderful winter FIUTS office interns!

Every quarter, FIUTS is lucky enough to have student interns who help us with all kinds of tasks in our office while having an opportunity to meet people, gain work experience, and learn about international education.

Meet our two amazing interns who are joining us this winter!



Name: Misaki Yamashita
Hometown: Kyoto, Japan
Year: Junior
School/Major: Political Science

I have been interested in non-profit organization that's what Japan does not have a lot. Also, after I came to the US by myself, I realized how difficult making friends by using English in the different country. When I got to know about FIUTS, I thought this is the one that I wanted. I'm excited doing internship next 3 months! I will be handling front desk task, and some events that will be held by FIUTS.

I really like living in Seattle! It's really liberal, people are nice and it has nice weather. The best thing about Seattle for me is many hiking places are close. Even though Seattle is a big city, it's close to nature! I can experience many things.

In my free time I love dancing! I've been doing classical ballet for 13 years. I like all different kinds of dancing, such as swing dancing, salsa and modern dance, etc. Also, I founded Japanese modern dance club, so if you are interested in dancing or Japanese culture, please contact me! Or, if you are having events or something and you need dancers, we are more than happy to perform!

I'm really excited doing internship at FIUTS and meet new people!

Name: Juri Ishida
Country: Japan
Class: Sophomore
Major: International Relations

“Catch the moment!” This is my favorite phrase and I want to share with you as my introduction. Our time is always limited, so let’s enjoy now! I am excited at being part of FIUTS community!

I am an international student from Japan and new internship since this month! I have spent precious time in Seattle since April, 2014 by studying, doing volunteer and internship, traveling and hanging out with friends.

I love people and culture. Study at school provides with knowledge, but communicating with other people always takes me into new world and expands my cultural experience and is so fun. FIUTS is the best place for me to get more chance to share the idea and enjoy the events with them! Also, I can learn about global leadership through facilitator, which is great.  I would like to make new event so that everyone can make new friends and get to know each other such as bowling.

Besides my internship, I started to join some conversation groups at UW and the church in order to improve my speaking skills. On weekend, I usually go outside and travel such as Leavenworth, Portland, Canada, and Seattle with friends. I also like playing and listening music and dancing, so I go to the concert. If you have some recommendation, please invite me!

I am always at office, so please come to say Hi!!!! Thank you


Thanks to our awesome interns for supporting FIUTS with all your hard work!

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Goodbye from Masa

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 16, 2015 10:55 AM |
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Our fantastic intern, Masa, has gone back to Japan. He wrote a blog post to say goodbye!

All of us at the FIUTS office were so sad last week to say goodbye to our intern, Masa, who is headed back to Japan. We'll miss him! To finish off his time at FIUTS and in Seattle, we did an interview with Masa to give him a chance to share what he learned and how his time here has inspired him for the future. Thank you, Masa!


Name: Maskazu Kondo (A.K.A Masa)

Where are you from?
I am from Japan. I grew up around Osaka and moved to Tokyo when I was 18. I used to live in Thailand when I was 7 years old.

What year are you and what are you studying?
I am a senior studying business administration and English.

What made you decide to intern at FIUTS?
I was looking for a work environment where I could learn many things such as a leadership and business practice through intercultural conversation. I had attended some of FIUTS’ events and met awesome people. [FIUTS Student Programs Coordinator] Danika took care of me, so I decided to intern here. I made a good choice!!

Masa washing dishes for Wednesday Lunch

What have you done during your time as a FIUTS intern, and what was your favorite thing that you did?
In general, I sat at the front desk, sold tickets for events, helped Facilitators with some events, and made flyers and newsletters. My favorite thing I did was arranging a new event: Paint the Town, where participants get to paint pottery. I phoned the business to make sure I knew what they offered and thought about the plan. It was really challenging, but I felt confident after I finished it. It is a bummer that I have to go back to Japan prior to the event taking place. I really want to keep working here but I am thinking about starting a student group like FIUTS in Japan!

What has surprised you most about U.S./Seattle culture in comparison with where you are from?
I was surprised and loved that people here are so talkative and generous.  Sadly, in Japan, we usually do not speak to strangers, even if they look in a trouble so I was so surprised when a huge guy asked me to teach him how to write his name in Chinese characters so that he could get a tattoo. I am sure that Japanese people will not believe what I have gone through in Seattle. In addition to this, people in Seattle are incredibly kind. I do not remember how many times I have been saved.

Masa (far right) with the FIUTS front desk team

Also, I love dogs here in Seattle. They are totally different from Japanese dogs and are cute in a different way.

Oh! It was also unforgettably surprised that my friend has a swimming pool in her house. You have to be a super baller to have it in Japan.

What are your plans after you leave FIUTS?
Though my plan is still up in the air, I am thinking about taking the initiative to start a student group. A student group that I am thinking about is based on concepts at FIUTS. The group would support foreign students in Japan and will increase the number of foreign student coming to Japan.  We will offer information about Japan in English on our web-site and newspaper. In order to differentiate from other organizations, we will plan actual events with international students like FIUTS does and make a blog or reports about them.

Also, I have to finish my senior year and prepare for job hunting. Please make a wish for me so I can get a great job! Thank you everybody for supporting me at the FIUTS office!

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Adapting to a New Home

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 15, 2015 10:35 AM |
Insights from Alissa, a first-year international student, on adapting to life in Seattle during her first quarter at UW.
Adapting to a New Home

Alissa (right) with friends on the FIUTS orientation boat cruise

Guest Post by Alissa Mustre, FIUTS Facilitator

Moving to Seattle has been a life-changing experience. Before I was born, my parents had lived here for a couple of years and always talked about how beautiful it is. So, naturally, when I got accepted to UW I was beyond excited to start my new life in Washington.

I came to orientation with my mom in the summer and was fascinated by how beautiful the city, the campus, and the weather was. Of course, I was then warned that this would not be the type of weather I would be experiencing for the next 4 years in this town… But I was still thrilled.

Alissa and her mom at a Huskies football game!

My mom dropped me off in September and, for a couple of weeks, I was completely fine with living on my own, loving the independence I had here. I didn't have to worry about what time I got home, I could eat what I wanted, I absolutely loved the classes I had picked, etc. I was having the time of my life.

But then it started to rain, the fog set in, and the weather became unbelievably cold for what I was accustomed to (approximately 80˚ - 95˚ F all year long!). Then I got sick. I caught an awful cold and got an ear infection. That’s when it really hit me and the feeling of loneliness started to sink in. I missed how my mom always knew what to do when I got sick. I missed my dad watching football with me. I missed fighting with my sister and then reconciling with her just to borrow one of her nice shirts. And, of course, I missed my marvelous group of friends.

For the next couple of days I was pretty down, so I decided to call my brother. He went through the same thing, he moved to Ohio for college while my parents were back in Mexico, that’s why I thought talking to him would help. And it did. He encouraged me to stop moping around in my room, go to the nurse, and explore the wonderful city I lived in. That was exactly what I did, and suddenly everything got brighter – even the sky! I realized that, of course, everything has its ups and downs, but it’s up to us to create more ups than downs.

Enjoying a FIUTS excursion to the Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, a Seattle holiday tradition

My sickness went away and I began to feel more aware of the amazing things that surrounded me. I loved exploring the Emerald City, I went to places not even my parents had gone to in their 7 years of living here! I made a lot of friends who were going through the same thing I was going through, and together we made the best of our first quarter here in what I believe is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world.

My best friend once told me to enjoy the inevitable: time. That’s what I've been doing and I've had one heck of a good time doing so.


Alissa is a first-year UW student from Mexico.

Want to write a guest post for the FIUTS blog about your experiences as an international student or scholar in Seattle? Contact Ellen.

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Let's Give a Helping Hand

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 13, 2015 09:30 AM |
Youth Leadership alumni in Trebinje are making a difference in their community.

In Spring 2014, students from the town of Trebinje were part of the FIUTS Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina. After they returned home from Seattle, they used the skills they learned to plan and implement a service project in their community. Read this post by participant Andjela Cickovic to find out how it went!

It’s been a long time since our "once in a life time journey" has finished. We came back from Seattle full of great experiences, new ideas, wonderful memories and strong relationships. First few days it was hard to get used to old way of life. It looked as returning back to reality from the most beautiful dream.

The project in our small community was another part of the entire Youth Leadership Program. My YLP Alumni friends Vanja, Dragana, Dejana, Rastko, Jovan , our teacher Sladja and me decided to give our project a  name '"Let’s give a helping hand." The main purpose of this project was to clean our closed school yard as well as to encourage youth to get involved and volunteer.

We made posters to inform others about it. Then we made applications that students could fill up in our secondary schools. From all of them we chose 20 volunteers to take part in our project.

We did our project in a partnership with "American Corner" here in Trebinje, on 28 October. It consisted of playing an Icebreaker game, a   presentation about volunteering, small workshops with volunteer, cleaning school yard, and a presentation about stereotypes.

We put in a lot of effort but in the end it paid back. The outcome was astonishing. Firstly we are happy that we encouraged our friends to volunteer, we all shared different opinions, ideas and experiences. We all learned something new. We managed to clean up our school yard and to prove that we can do it if we have a strong will and if we unite. We made one step further, nearer, to our main goal which is to reorder this yard and make it nice place to spend time on our school breaks. We hope we’ll do it soon and we promise we’ll let you know how things are going on.

Our project was followed by media. My friend Dejana gave an interview for our local radio and my friend Dragana gave an interview for a newspaper ''Nezavisne novine." Also some internet portals have written about our project. Here are links to two of the articles (in Bosnian):


Great work, Trebinje team! Your FIUTS family is so proud of you.

The Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the program here.

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Facilitator Corner: Kevin Sander

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 08, 2015 09:25 AM |
Read about the experiences of one of our amazing volunteer student leaders!

FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over theworld who welcome new international visitors, help to organize events, and lead activities for hundreds of students each quarter. Read on to find out more about the FIUTS facilitator experience from Kevin!

Name: Kevin Sander
Country: USA
Major: International Studies, Chinese Language
Class: Senior
FIUTS Facilitator Since: August, 2014


My dad was in the Navy, so as a kid I had the opportunity to live in a lot of different places around the U.S., but of all the places I’ve lived, Seattle was the one that made me feel most at home. After graduating from a Virginia high school in 2011, I came back to Seattle to study at the UW and am now majoring in International Studies and Chinese Language. I hope to use the knowledge and skills I am developing at the UW to create opportunities for myself to travel more overseas and expand my experiences beyond North America. Being a FIUTS facilitator has been a great step in that direction as I meet and learn from people from all over the world.

Kevin teaching English in China last year

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

Finding your place in a new community is hard; finding your place whilst overcoming language and culture barriers is harder. As a facilitator, I feel like I can help make that process a little easier for international students coming to the UW. Being a facilitator is as simple as being friendly and being helpful, but the impact that can have on helping someone find their bearings in a new place is huge. I know from my own time studying abroad that having an organization like FIUTS that does so much to host events and connect new students to current ones goes a long way in making the experience a positive one, so being a part of that here in Seattle has been incredibly gratifying.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

Our first day on the Portland Global Getaway was a mess due to a massive rainstorm. The other facilitators and I had planned on going to Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to kick off the Christmas season with thousands of Portland natives as they sang carols and lit up a massive douglas fir, but the weather made many of the participants hesitant. As Sascha, Omar, and I led the participants to the square, the rain and wind really picked up and began to shake everyone’s resolve. Some questioned if the trip was worth it. We stopped under an overhang and gave a short, rousing speech about life in northwest – about how sometimes we just have to accept the rain and go through with our plans anyway – and encouraged them to stay the course. I couldn’t have been more impressed with how quickly everyone rallied, flipping their attitudes around and choosing to march all the way downtown through the storm in good spirits. By the time the Christmas festivities started, the rain had letup anyway and everyone had a great time. It was a perfect example of how bearing through the rain is usually worth it in the end.

Kevin (second from left) with fellow facilitators at the Portland Global Getaway

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

It’s OK not to know things. By this I mean three things:

1) If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. The number one thing I end up doing as a facilitator is answer questions, so inevitably some will come along that stump me. Most questions are pretty simple (e.g. where is a good place to get groceries? Which buses go downtown?), but you are dealing with a multidisciplinary group of international students, so you just never know what is going to be thrown at you (e.g. can you tell me anything about the working conditions of female Latin-American migrant workers? Why do you say everyone “is” excited; shouldn’t it be everyone “are” excited?). Luckily, there are almost always other facilitators and FIUTS staff around, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

2) If you have questions, ask them. As a FIUTS facilitator, you have the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, so try to make the most of it. Sure, you might feel stupid asking someone to describe where they are from on a map because you really didn’t know where Brunei was, but you’ll feel really smart at next Thanksgiving’s game of Trivial Pursuit when you can name all three countries that divide the island of Borneo.

Kevin and his family hosted UW international students Paige and Rex for Thanksgiving Dinner

3) Don’t pass up on an opportunity because you feel like you don’t know enough. You should still lead a campus tour or facilitate an event to a place you have never gone. As a facilitator, your main job is to facilitate interaction anyway, so it’s ok if you don’t have specific knowledge about an event. Plus, you will probably be surprised at how much you do know and at how much you learn in the process. And like I said earlier, if you get questions that you can’t answer, that’s fine too – just find someone else to pass the question off to.


Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here!

More Facilitator Corner posts:

Joey Liao

Anya Raj

Minhtu Nguyen

Jianyang (Jane) Zhang

Jialu Sun

Fleur Xuanlin Li

Saleh Alwabel

Clara Jiayao Lu

Le (Juliet) Huang

David Veth

Yili (Jacky) Chen

Jonathan Cheng

Fah Thamsuwan

Charlie Warner

Katherine Li

Nabil Sutjipto

Jeremy Sculley

Ani Antonyan

Jaisang Sun

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BiH Youth Leadership Fall 2014: Back home

The last set of blog posts from students in the Fall 2014 program with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Fall 2014 Bosnia Youth Leadership Program participants headed home in November. Though their time in the U.S. is over, they will continue to use the skills and experiences they gained here to develop and implement great service projects in their home communities. Read their blog posts about how what they learned in Seattle and Washington D.C. has impacted them so far!

Those special days - by Teodora Pavlović

Every day we become richer for one more experience. Every day we get to learn something new. But there are some days that are really special. Days filled with new things, new experiences and new people. Days when world has opened its doors to you and showed things you never thought you’ll see. Those are the days you live for and when regular days come, you live in your memories looking forward to new experiences.

My name is Teodora and I recently had a month filled with special days. I went to America!

For a 17-year-old girl, who saw only pictures and movies of America, actually going there is a really big deal. Now I am living in my memories of those special days and I love talking about my time spent there. When I talk about America, the most common questions people ask me are: What was the most interesting thing I’ve done and what was the least expected? I give them the same answer on both.

When you get that call that you’ve been chosen for the YLP program and that you get to back your stuff because you are going to America, things you expect when you come there are: learning new things, seeing places, experiencing the culture and doing lots of different things. But, the one thing you don’t expect, the one thing you can’t even imagine when somebody mentions America - is working on a farm. And guess what? We went on a farm! And, believe it or not, it was great.

As the part of the program, we were learning about socially insecure people, about food banks and the whole process of providing food for those people. So one day we were working on a farm and for the first time in my life I did weeding and planting. I got to see where it all starts and how it ends in the food banks. Even though it was soooo cold, I had so much fun. Smell of fresh soil filled the air it was like we were far away from the hastily city. My boots, and hands were muddy but I didn’t mind.  I enjoyed every minute of it. While I was working, the thing that kept me going was a fact that the plants we were planting will be given to people who can’t provide it by themselves. Doing team work, planting trees, feeling back pain and everything that came with it was great.

It is not about the expectations, it is about how you accept the conditions and situations that are given to you and use them as best as you can. Even though I didn’t expect to work on a farm when I go to America it turned out to be so fun and un-ordinary. That was one really special day. In my country, people say that your life has worth if you plant a tree, build a house and give birth to a child. America gave me the opportunity to accomplish one of those things.


Back to Reality - by Nejra Spaho

So, it's been a while since we got back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but still it's really hard to just continue my life here after experience like visiting USA and being part of Youth Leadership Program. Every day I think about Seattle, about things I saw and learned, people I met and those memories are so precious to me, I can honestly say that this trip has changed me completely as a person and that now I see things differently. Before, while I was walking through the streets of my city all I saw were just streets, but now I always think about what can be improved and what it would be possible to be changed in here.

I now that we had a chance to do a lot of things but for me visiting Real Change newspapers was something that made me think about issues that are so obvious but people are trying to hide them. The difference about Sarajevo and Seattle is that in Seattle people are really trying to solve their problems but in Sarajevo people are not aware of how big some problems are and they are just hiding it. I really want to be a person who will change at least some small problems and before this trip I was telling myself that I can't do it but now I know I can do everything that I want and I just can't wait to start.

I will never forget this experience and I will be thankful for it for the rest of my life. Everything that we've talked about is just running through my head constantly and I honestly hope that it's never going to stop. People I'd met, people for who I thought I won't get along with are now my family, and I really MISS my family. I miss waking up in the room with my roommate, I miss us, all eighteen of us just hanging around and talking about everything, most of all I miss us as a group.

There is one sentence that one of the staffs told us at our last dinner that really says it all. "Keep in touch with each other, because only you know what you have been through." And I will keep in touch. Promise.


Saying Thank You to FIUTS! - by Filip Miljković

Nothing lasts forever, and just like that the best experience in my life ended so suddenly, almost unexpected, it hit me like a train full of emotions. I feel like I didn't even have time to look back one more time, and when you are sitting in an 8 hour long flight, thinking what have you experienced and how big and great people you've met, you start to realize that you are just about to land in Sarajevo.

At first I was really depressed because I came in a less developed country and believe me you can notice that as soon as you land, but then comes the change and the impact of the program. I saw so many opportunities, possible projects that could help our state, people, maybe even one day the world. Then you start to feel different, the adrenaline rushes through your veins and you want to start doing something right know, at the moment, you want to make the world better place to live. That made me really happy and satisfied, I realized how much I have changed through the program without even knowing it.

And beside we were learning about civic engagement, ethical leadership, creativity, cultural diversity and all the other things that make a person great leader we built a strong, independent group of 18 young people that are willing to work for society and overall something bigger than us. We made a connection so strong that we destroyed all of the stereotypes that we had towards each other right away. At the end we come from a two different cities with a different cultural and religious perspectives and yet we achieved to manage that.

In my opinion that's the real beauty of this program, working with such an amazing people full of different ideas, opinions,points of view and I'm really grateful for that. Thank you to all of the people that are working hard to make this program work and I have an honor to be the last Bosnian participant of YLP to say that to you. Thank you!


Common Ground - by Adna Džanković

Hi my name is Adna and I'm one of the YLP participants .YLP is a program that is working on improving our leadership skills and teaching us, young participants how to be productive in our society and make some good changes for our community.

The most inspiring and interesting part of our journey for me, was visiting a State Department in Washington DC. We have met very important people there and talked about our country and the problems that we, as youth, want to change. We talked to people that that work in the office that is in charge of our country that is Bosnia and Herzegovina. They really encouraged us to fight for our goals and to make a better future for our generation. They have got us familiar on how the Department is working and what are their goals which was really interesting and we all got included.

At the end we had a chance to try to solve a world problem diplomatically. We were split in few groups that were representing different world organizations and we had to find a compromise to solve a problem that would affect the whole world. Some of us had a really hard job because we needed to represent countries which goals weren't same as ours and to fight for something that we are not approving but we really learned a lot from it. We were trying to find a common ground and to make a compromise but at the same time to respect each other.

At the end we couldn't find a solution and we realized how hard that job is but we did a really god job because we all respected each other and we were all trying to find a best solution without hurting anyone. I think that we all went out of that building with some new knowledge and ambition to be the change that we want to see in our country.


Coming home - by Kemal Mulić

Hi my name is Kemal and I'm a sixteen year old YLP participant from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Coming home was hard for all of us. Splitting apart from our host families and from FIUTS staff was the hardest. Of course, I miss America and all the fun stuff we did there. We all do.

The most interesting part of this program was volunteering for the Food Banks. We did two days of volunteering. The first day we asked for donations in front of a big mall,and the other day we volunteered at a food bank. I was surprised how people in America are willing to help and that they actually care about homeless people. We did a great job, guys from food banks were shocked by how much stuff we collected.

Overall everything was great. America was fun and I loved it. I would love to go back and study there. The system is different, which is really cool and of course I would love to visit my hosts again because they are awesome.

I still keep in touch with most of my friends from the US and I hope to visit them again in future. I am looking forward to making a program to change my community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I gained many skills and I learned how it is to live an average life in America.


The Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the program here.

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Portland Global Getaway

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 05, 2015 12:45 PM |
Students and facilitators enjoyed a weekend in Portland with FIUTS!

Guest post by FIUTS Facilitators Kevin Sander, Sascha Krause, and Omar Altoaimi

Friday November 28th, 2014: storm winds swept torrents of rain over Seattle. Undeterred and kept warm by bellies full of turkey and gravy, 34 Huskies from around the world gathered at the Burke Museum and prepared to spend their Thanksgiving weekend on one of FIUTS’ epic Global Getaways. The destination was Portland and leading everyone there were facilitators Kevin, Omar, and Sascha. Joining the dream team was Fran who stepped up and volunteered to drive our fourth SUV. Thank you Fran!

Everybody was very excited start their adventure in Portland (and to get out of the rain), so as soon as everyone was present and ready we packed into the cars and headed out. From the Burke, we drove almost four hours in the downpour across State of Washington, stopping only once in Centralia for lunch, before safely arriving at Portland’s University Place Hotel. There wasn’t much time to check in and relax at the hotel since it was the day of the famous “Tree Lighting Ceremony” in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Year after year thousands of Portlanders gather at the Pioneer Courthouse Square to celebrate lighting of a spectacular 75ft Tree. The event features a holiday sing-a-long of classic Christmas songs and, of course, an early appearance by Santa himself! Everyone was excited to go downtown and join in the festivities, but the rainstorm hadn’t let up a bit causing some trepidation. However, after a rousing speech by the facilitators about how here in the northwest, sometimes you just have to “accept the rain and do things anyway,” the participants rallied and braved the storm. The rain finally let up a bit just before the ceremony started and we joined thousands of Portlanders in greeting the season by carolling. It was a great experience for everybody.

Saturday started with an all American breakfast to give us enough energy to explore Portland and enjoy some tax-free shopping. While brisk, the weather was sunny and beautiful; perfect for a walk downtown. We walked back through Pioneer Courthouse Square and all the way to Portland’s Saturday market, full of arts and crafts, while mingling all the way. Oh, what fun!

We split up for lunch, eating at one of Portland’s many food carts or warming up at some indoor options, using the time to meet and greet any of the participants we hadn't met yet and get to know one another better. Afterwards we gathered at one of world's largest bookstores, “Powell’s City of Books.” Powell’s was so big that they gave us maps at the entrance so we could find our way through all the floors and sections.

However, most of that afternoon was all about shopping for Christmas presents and taking advantage of the black-friday-weekend deals at the Woodburn Premium Outlets just outside of the city. By the end, we had to squeeze back into the cars with all the stuff that everyone bought. We ended the day with a great dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and a viewing party back at the hotel to watch a grandiose victory over the WSU Cougars in the Apple Cup. Go Huskies!!!!

On Sunday, we spent our last few hours in Portland back downtown. We went to Voodoo Doughnuts to experience all the weird deliciousness (or not so deliciousness) that they are famous for. What goes better with a doughnut than a cup of tea? Besides coffee, nothing! Hence, we stopped at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, featuring a traditional teahouse, to experience small piece Chinese culture in the heart of Portland.

After some more shopping, food carts, and downtown sightseeing, we had to bid beautiful Portland a fond farewell. But on such a glorious, sunny day, we decided to stop at Multnomah Falls before heading back to Seattle. Tucked into the cliffs adjoining the Columbia River and ringed by frost-covered stones, the fairytale-like waterfalls were the perfect backdrop for one of the best group pictures ever.

After the falls, we struck out for home. The warm, cozy cars quickly lulled most of our participants to sleep; no doubt to dream of the fun times and friends made at one very successful Global Getaway.


Explore the Pacific Northwest with friends from around the world through FIUTS - check out upcoming opportunities on our calendar!

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Announcing the CulturalFest 2015 Performance Lineup

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jan 02, 2015 10:25 AM |
Filed under:
Buy your tickets today for the big show on February 28!


Celebrate the start of 2015 by getting your tickets to this year's CulturalFest Performance Showcase! We're so excited to announce this year's incredible lineup of talented performers from all over the world! These amazing individuals and groups will share music, dance, and more at Meany Hall on Saturday, February 28 - and you can buy your tickets online now.

This year's CulturalFest performers are:

Dikir West Side

Dikir West Side performs Dikir Barat, a group performance style native to Malaysia that includes rhythmic and energy-filled singing, clapping, and instruments.

Te Fare O Tamatoa

Te fare o Tamatoa's vibrant performances use song, dance, and handcrafted costumes/regalia to share the legends and culture of Tahiti.


Elegant, traditional Chinese classical dance performed by two UW students who trained together in Hong Kong.

Denná Good-Mojab

Iranian-American soloist Denná Good-Mojab will perform a song in Farsi based on an Afghan poem.

UW Taiko Kai

Taiko Kai's ensemble performance style of Japanese Taiko drumming draws from rhythms used in traditional folk dances and inspirations from Buddhist teachings while blending with more modern genres.

Monica Razniewski

Vocal soloist Monica Razniewski will perform a classical Polish song composed by Chopin.

Hussain Fadwani

Guitarist and singer Hussain Fadwani, from Pakistan, presents a Qawwali, a traditional form of subcontinental music, combined with Western influences.

University of Washington Bhangra

Bhangra is a traditional folk dance from the area of Punjab in India. Its upbeat and colorful style is performed all over the world.

Irish Dancers at UW

This student group's dance style blends traditional Irish dance steps with more modern choreography, using solo and group routines as well as both hard and soft shoes.

Karoun Dance Ensemble

Performing two very different dances from two regions in Tajikistan, the Karoun Dance Ensemble's performance will convey amazing richness of the dance and music traditions of Central Asia.

Dogg Pound Crew

The Dogg Pound Crew combines high-energy b-boying (‘breakdancing’) with team-based choreography. Originating in the United States, this dance form expresses the cultural roots of earning respect, keeping kids out of trouble and off the streets.

Natya UW (India)

The piece that this student dance group will perform depicts the story of Rukmini Devi Arundale, a pioneer of the Indian classical dance style Bharatnatyam.

Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online. Discounted student tickets will be available for $10 in advance at the FIUTS office (HUB 206) or at Wednesday Lunch. Tickets will also be available at the door for $15.

Click here to buy your tickets today! And don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Join us for free cultural activities and more at the International Expo on Thursday, February 26, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances. See you there!

Can't come to CulturalFest, but still want to support FIUTS? Consider making a donation to our cross-cultural and educational programs serving students and community members in Seattle and around the world.

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