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Welcome, Amy!

Posted by Bea Chang at Jul 30, 2015 03:58 PM |
FIUTS welcomes another full-time staff to our office: Amy Bergstorm. Read about how she started learning French at recess in the 3rd grade, how she jumped onto a moving train in Paris, and how the strange convoluted roads all brought her to FIUTS as our new Manager of Student Programs.

Amy Bergstrom joined FIUTS last week as our new Manager of Student Programs and we’re so glad to welcome her to our office! She will be working on international student orientation, student program development, events and activities, and many others! Here’s Amy, introducing herself to the FIUTS community:

My journey to FIUTS seems to be anything but a straight line, yet I can look back and see many markers on the trail pointing me in this direction. I started learning French during recess in third grade, and I can still remember one of the first dialogues we practiced and practiced and practiced. (“Bonjour, Jeanne. Comment vas-tu? Très bien, merci. Et toi?”) My love of the language led me to a French minor in college and my first international trip after college, a surreal experience that I remember most for European trains, delicious crêpes, and getting to experience other cultures in new ways. One of my favorite memories combines all three: My friend and I were pursuing one final crêpe in Paris and nearly missed our train. We ran and jumped in the first car, but it didn’t connect to the other cars, and since we didn’t have first-class tickets, we squeezed into the luggage compartment until the first stop. It was a bumpy—but fun!—ride.

Before FIUTS, I completed my Master of Education in Student Development Administration, a fancy way of saying that I am a student of students. I love to work with university students and see them grow and discover who they are. Most especially, I love helping students understand that no matter who they are, they can be leaders. I’m excited to welcome new international students, help them transition to the U.S. and the university, and build connections that will broaden all of our international awareness and understanding.

My love for student programs started when I was an undergraduate student at Colorado State University, where I worked with student organizations, wrote and produced for campus media, and participated in a leadership program. My academic program was central, but I believe my outside-of-classroom experiences were what made my college experience complete and helped me become the person that I am. In between my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I worked for many years in sports journalism. My favorite place to be is still in the stands at a Mariners game or, even better, playing on a softball field.

I will gladly talk about sports with you any time, and I also love reading, baking, crafting, and running in parks around Seattle.

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FIUTS: Camping Without Fire

Posted by Bea Chang at Jul 28, 2015 12:52 PM |
Read about how Facilitator Noel Kimber, along with 24 FIUTS students, escaped the heat wave in the city and went camping in the Cascades.

By FIUTS Facilitator Noel H. Kimber

“Camping outdoor? Why would anyone leave the comfort of his or her own home and spend a night in a tent, cooking with limited resources and stay disconnected to the internet?” One might ask. Camping trip may not make any sense in terms of productivity, but there is a mysterious force that calls smooth handed city dwellers out to the nature once in a while. FIUTS students decided to find out what it is.

On early Saturday morning of June 27th, three cars left Burke Museum, armed to teeth with provisions. They arrived at Lake Wenatchee campground, a small lakeside recreational area located in the Cascades, near noon. Students jumped out of their air-conditioned cars only to be greeted by dry, warm air. Despite being in the mountain and at 1800ft above sea level, the effect of the summer sun was hardly negligible. Student stretched out their legs and scouted out for the lake. The lake was roughly 500ft southwest of their campground. The water was calm and soothing. It embraced anyone entered the lake and cooled them down instantly. They spent the entire afternoon at the lakeshore, indulging in various activities such as swimming, kayaking, playing volleyball, mediating, chatting, exploring, and taking a stroll. As the evening drew near, students decided to prepare meals. They were fully aware of the burn ban that was in effect in the area, and understood well how ecologically important it is to abide to the ban in order to preserve the very verdure they were enjoying. For that reason, they did not light charcoal in the fire pit in the campground, and they certainly did not cook sausages, corns and vegetables. Their appreciation of the civilization—shower, bug-proof house, kitchen—grew. After dinner, students went back to the lakeshore and stayed there until the sun majestically sunk down the western mountain range. They conversed with one another about their lives at UW and their people’s history. Time flew. Students were enjoying the moments so much that they did not realize that they were voluntarily providing blood samples to the local mosquito inhabitants. While no camping is complete without campfire and s’more, students did not start a campfire. Instead, they spent the rest of the evening singing and talking near the lake.

Next morning, after some pancakes that blurred the line between breakfast and brunch, students split into three groups to pursue activities they wanted. One group decided to stay at the lake and enjoy the area more, another group went on a hike to locate Hidden Lake, and another group went to go up Round Mountain. The first two groups had some time left to explore the town of Leavenworth after their day. The last group didn’t quite make it to the top, but enjoyed some fascinating scenery during their attempt. All of the students were thoroughly exhausted, so they brought their tired body home. After dismissal, although not officially observed, it is believed that everyone took long, warm shower and washed away dirt. Nonetheless, they smelled like campfire for a week, which is a mystery considering that there was not a single trace of fire in their campsite in any shape or form.

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Facilitator Corner: Nga Nguyen

Posted by Bea Chang at Jul 21, 2015 02:24 PM |
See what Nga Nguyen loved about being a FIUTS Facilitator, what her favorite moments were, and what tips she might give to our current and future facilitator clan!

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 Nga!

Name: Nga Nguyen
FIUTS Facilitator Since:
Spring 2015

Brief Introduction

Hi, my name is Nga. I have just graduated from UW recently. I'm taking a year off from school, but I'm hoping to go to Pharmacy school in the long run. When I'm not busy with school or work, I like to spend time with family and friends, enjoy outdoor activities, volunteer, watch youtube videos, make origami, just to name a few.

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

I've only heard about FIUTS in Winter Quarter of 2015, and after going to Cultural Fest and learning more about FIUTS, I wished I knew about FIUTS earlier. Perhaps I studied too much my first three years in college and wasn't involved enough to know that FIUTS exists (: Compared to other clubs that I've been to on campus, FIUTS is very unique. There are a lot of cool events happening on and off campus. I thought joining FIUTS would be a great way for me to get involved and improve my leadership skills. Although I only had one quarter left at UW, I thought it would never be too late to start, so I decided to go all out, to participate in all the events that I could, and to make my last quarter at UW worthwhile.

I have quickly gotten out of my comfort zone after becoming involved with FIUTS. I’m more of an introvert and felt nervous going to Cultural Fest, my first event, because I didn’t know anyone. But that nervousness was gone after a couple of events. I now feel more confident at public speaking and communicating with others. Also, I used to not go on Facebook a lot, but I don't want to lose touch with people I have met so I have gone on Facebook more often. I like the positive atmosphere in which everyone is up for meeting new people and having a good time. I enjoy learning from everyone. Everyone has interesting stories to tell about their cultures, values, and experiences. As a facilitator, my role is to contribute to the cultural exchange process and provide that environment where people can engage in social interaction with one another.

What was your favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator?

Every event was fun and memorable in its own way. One event that I really liked was the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge hike. It was a nice easy hike in the beautiful weather. We finished the hike early and had some time to spare so we decided to hang around Olympia for a bit before we went back to Seattle. This was completely outside of what we planned for the trip, but it gave everyone a chance to explore Olympia a little more.

Besides off campus events, I also enjoyed going to cultural conversations. Cultural conversation helped me learn what makes each culture unique as well as the similarities between cultures. Not only did I learn things about everyone else’s cultures, I also learned things about my own culture that I didn't know before. It's funny how some people know interesting facts about Vietnam and that makes me think: “I’m Vietnamese. How can I not know this? I need to google it when I get home.” It’s conversations like these that inspire me to want to become more knowledgeable about my own culture and other cultures.

What are some tips/comments you'd give to peer facilitators?

Be as prepared as you can. It helps to know a few good ice breakers for different settings. Do some research about the place if you will be facilitating an off-campus event. And know that things might not go as planned, but that's what makes it fun, right?

Start a conversation with people if you're shy like me (: Make an effort to talk to everyone that attends the event, even if you have a large group of people going.

Facilitate events that you might not be familiar with. My first off-campus event was the Mariner’s game. I had never been to a baseball game and didn’t know the rules very well, but this gave me an incentive to do more research about baseball. It turned out to be a good game and we had a lot of fun.

If you ever come across any challenges, rest assured that there are other facilitators that can help you and the participants are very supportive as well.

Become a FIUTS Facilitator today! Click here for more information.

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Thank you, Brianna

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jul 10, 2015 05:05 PM |
Filed under: ,
Messages of thanks and best wishes for Brianna Mercker, who is leaving FIUTS after four years.
Thank you, Brianna

Brianna with former FIUTS intern Atsuko in 2012

Brianna Mercker has been the Manager of Student Programs at FIUTS since 2011, and has made a huge impact on so many students and members of the UW campus community! During her time here, she managed 15 International Student Orientations for thousands of students, advised the CulturalFest performance committee to produce shows that got better and better each year, represented FIUTS across campus and beyond, oversaw student leadership programming, and was a trusted friend and mentor to many members of the FIUTS family.

Brianna is leaving FIUTS to dedicate some time to taking care of her new (adorable) twin boys who were born in April. We'll miss her so much and wish her all the best! To say goodbye and thank you to Brianna, we asked students to write messages for her. Here is what they had to say:

"Brianna, thank you for being an awesome mentor! Not everyday do I get to meet individuals that I can talk to about ANYTHING. You will definitely be missed at the workplace! You're a natural leader and don't you ever forget that!" - Bader

"Brianna, thank you for being so welcoming when I got to Seattle. It was a great pleasure to get to know you. Thanks for everything and I'm sure you'll do great!" - Alissa

"Thank you very much Brianna for your constant guidance and encouragement to make FIUTS CulturalFest 2015 a great success." -Thilini

"Dear Brianna, Thank you very much for the incredible time working with you! You have always been very understanding and supportive to us to develop our leadership skills. I can see how much I have learned and improved during the last several years. YOU ROCK, BRIANNA! I wish you all the best!" -Minhtu

"Dear Brianna, You were one of the first staff members who helped me when I joined FIUTS and the advisor for most of the committees I've been on. All of us are going to miss you so much. You're the mom of FIUTS. You make sure everything goes well and everyone is having fun. I'm so glad I got to meet you. And your new babies too! Have fun taking care of them, they're absolutely beautiful and I'm sure they'll grow up to be wonderful human beings with you as their mom." - Kasey

"Brianna, thank you so much for bringing me back to FIUTS. You recognized me "jumping right in to straighten things out" when we were cleaning up the mess in the 2013 GlobalGala, then you invited me to participate in other meaningful ways including the Lead Facilitator Program. You're the one who came to me in person after Thailand didn't pass the audition for the 2012 CulturalFest performance; your sincere care means a lot to me. Thank you for respecting me like a peer, for being a good example in how to work with volunteers and for your kindness to my country. All the things you did and how you did them touched my heart deeply and uniquely. I am honored that we came across each other in life, sharing positive energy; and look forward to seeing the next steps in your journey and the growth of your sons under your guidance. Love from your friend" -Fah

"Brianna, Thank you so much for all the support and guidance you gave me during my time at UW. I have always looked up to you as a role-model, a friend, and someone who I could trust my feelings with. While I am of course so sad that you will not be returning to FIUTS I am even more excited for you, your husband, and your babies. 'Hangry 4 Life'" -Your friend Creighton

"Dear Brianna, Thank you for making me feel so included. Whenever I did events you always took the time to say hi and catch up and it made me feel wanted and good. You inspired me to do better, and made me wish I had joined FIUTS earlier. Thank you so much for impacting my life in such a positive way." -Carl

"Dear Brianna, You were one of the many reasons I kept coming back to FIUTS. From your guidance to your bear hugs, you really made FIUTS an awesome group to be a part of. I'm so grateful to have gotten the chance to work closely with you on all the different committees. I still remember the first time I went to the FIUTS office to speak with you about joining the Fall orientation committee. I remember thinking "this person is making a lot of eye contact with me" and feeling really uncomfortable. Now being more than 2 years, I'm the one going around eyeing people (in like a non creepy way); taking the lessons and experience that you and the FIUTS community have provided me and unleashing it on the world. I'll make my return to FIUTS this coming year and hopefully you'll be around also. You'll be an extraordinary mother and I look forward to seeing you again someday." -David Veth

"Hi Brianna, It was a pleasure working with you, and I still miss your warm hug on my first day at FIUTS. Your babies are very pretty and I wish them good health and an amazing life ahead. You are going to be an awesome mom just the way you were to all of us at FIUTS. God bless you and your babies." - Smita

"Dear Brianna,
Shukran for being supportive, helpful, easy to talk to, patient "specially in my case" :) and being in a part of my life.
FIUTS will never be the same. Wish you all the best in your new journey. Miss you a lot and i hope I see you soon."
(P.S. Shukran means thank you in Arabic, I'm sure you know that) - Saleh "Habibi" Alwabel

"Brianna, You inspired me in many ways as a leader, as a colleague, and certainly as a friend. I truly appreciate the time you spent with us. Good luck and best wishes going forward!" -Allan

"Hey Brianna! I can barely wrap my head around the fact that you're not going to be working at FIUTS anymore. You've always been the mama bear of all the facilitators and just because you don't come into the FIUTS office in a regular schedule anymore doesn't mean you're no longer part of our little family. I wish you the best and hope to hear how you're been doing from time to time!!" -Thao

"Dear Brianna, I think you have a magic wand!
You spread care, and turn tears into smiles;
You untangle troubles, and turn "troublemakers" into leaders;
You push people work hard and turn hard work into fun parties;
Now, whoosh, you turn into a wonderful mom with a queen and a king!
Thank you Brianna! For the magic you did in our lives." -Xinglu

"Hi Brianna! A big hug for you! You are a great person to be around with, warm, generous, funny! You will sure be missed! Make sure to visit FIUTS once in a while." -Fleur

"Brianna! Probably you've been welling up before you read my message, so I'll try not to make it so sad lol. The time I really got to know you well is when I was a leadership chair. I think one of your magic power is that you make people want to open their heart to you, to a passionate, philanthropic and energetic you. I bet your babies will have the best mom in the world! Love you! Will miss you a lot! XOXO P.S. If you want to know other magic power of you in my opinion, please come by FIUTS office at Hub 206 lol!! Anytime!!" -Yanran

"Dear Brianna, I still remember the first time that I met you on the Opening Day in my freshmen year. How amazing that we started this journey with FIUTS at the same time. I had so many "first times" of mine with FIUTS and especially when I worked with you during the orientations. You always trusted in me and encouraged me. And you were always attentive to make sure I am okay not only in FIUTS, but also in my school and life as a big sis. Thank you Brianna! Please keep in touch." - Clara

"Dear Brianna: I had no idea when I first met you at the CulturalFest 2014 auditions that FIUTS would become one of the strongest, most loving, and most complete communities I have ever had. I have learned and grown so much as a person while being a part of FIUTS and your presence has had no inconsiderable influence. Thank you for always encouraging me and welcoming me in. I'm very sad to see you go, but also really excited for you! With you having been a fantastic mother to all of us FIUTS kids, those gorgeous twins of yours have nothing to worry about. All the love and good wishes in the world to you as you begin a new chapter of your life!!" - Denna

"Dear Brianna: It's been a grateful memory to work with you in past two years, you are the super rock star in my FIUTS life, thank you so much for all you have devoted to us ! All I could say is wish you the best in the future life, and best wishes to your two lovely kids ! Wish them growing healthily and happily!" -Jacky

"He~~y! How are you, Brianna!!
I still do remember a lot of what we talked when I was working with you! :-)
I truly think having baby is a miracle and wonderful!
I broke up with my girl friend so I need your advice seriously. lol
I really want to see your babies :-)
If your family come to Japan, let me know! I will guide you Japan!!!
Thank you again and congrats!!!!" -Masa

"Brianna! I'm always having fun to see your pictures with your babies! They are adorable!! I can't wait to see them in person;) You helped me a lot when I was working at FIUTS, and respected you since you were working powerfully with a big stomach. Working at FIUTS gave me so much things! It would not have happened without you:D Thank you so much! I miss you! I hope you will have a great life with your family♡" -Misaki

"Brianna, Thank you for accepting me very kindly during my internship at FIUTS. I am so lucky to meet you and learned a lot from you. I wanna see your babies so bad now. I hope you have wonderful days with your families ever:) Thank you again and congrats!!!!" -Juri

"Brianna, Thank you for putting that CulturalFest Committee sign-up sheet in my hands the minute I first walked into the FIUTS office three years ago, and for the constant support you have given me ever since! You always go above and beyond above and beyond to answer my questions, connect me with resources, and encourage my professional and personal growth. Your genuine confidence in students helps us all to be more creative, ambitious, and compassionate leaders then we ever imagined we could be. Enjoy your family and visit often!" -Kailyn

"Dear Brianna, Thank you for being such a friendly and positive light whenever students walked into the FIUTS office. I will always appreciate your kindness and calming demeanor. Enjoy your time with your beautiful babies and family, you will be missed!" -Joslyn

"Brianna, you are a great person to know! You make everybody around you feel comfortable and happy. I wish you a bright and happy future."-Viele Gruesse, Sascha

"I've had the pleasure to work with Brianna since her day 1 in FIUTS office. Before she was a mother of two, she was the mother of our many facilitators. She'll always be our mom'." -Chung

"Brianna, We both came to UW the same year, and we both experienced so many things together! We laughed, we joked, we matched our outfits… I would always remember all the help you provided, your friendship, and your kind gestures. I have to say I will honestly miss you at the office, but only you, Lee as well. You were THE FIUTS couple. Good luck and my best wishes in this new stage in life." Un abrazo y un beso! -Michel.

"Hi Brianna, Thank you for your upbeat, encouraging, and uplifting support. My experience on the FIUTS performance committee would not have been the same without you! I hope to see you again soon, and congratulations on your growing family!"   -Peirce

"Dear Brianna, it has been a pleasure working with you in the past two years. Your dedication and contribution to FIUTS will always be remembered. All the best!" - Khong

"Brianna! Congratulations on becoming a mother to two wonderful twins. I was looking forward to another four years with FIUTS and with you, but life has bigger and better things in store for you! I just wanted to thank you for all of the endless support and encouragement you have given me, I don't know if I'd be where I'm at without it. Best of luck Brianna and hopefully we can catch up soon!" -Nathan

"Hi Brianna, It's my honor to know you both as colleague and friend. You helped me get involved in the FIUTS family. You are the mentor guided me to make right decisions at the right time. You taught me how to appreciate opportunities and stay optimistic in hard situations. Words cannot express how much I will miss you. Wish you and your lovely family the best!" - Xinyuan John Shen

"Hi Brianna, I cannot say how fortunate I am to have known you personally and worked with you on the CulturalFest Performance Committee. Like others have said, you are practically a mom for us all, not only have you been so caring and thoughtful but also inspiring and I have learned so much from you! You made every meeting a productive one but still chilling, and I loooove it everytime you sweeten our intense conversations with treats like your homemade cupcakes or macaroons. I am sad that you won't return to the office but I know the two lil cutie pies have occupied your time.You are and will always be a good mom. We miss you!!!" - Linh Tran

"Hi Brianna! It was really nice to have met you in my freshman year in UW! You have been so sweet and helpful to me since the first day we met in the Orientation. I remember the times you encourage me to get more involved and join more events in FIUTS. You have been so supportive to everyone of us in FIUTS! I really appreciate! Even though you are leaving FIUTS, I am so happy for your new “full-time job” as a mom! I know you are going to be an amazing mom! Please keep us updated about your life and we will really miss you!" -Kyki

So many people are truly grateful for the difference Brianna has made in their lives. We wish her all the best in the future. Thank you, Brianna, and keep in touch! -Your FIUTS Family

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Welcome, Bea

Bea Chang joined FIUTS last week as our new Manager of Community Programs and we’re so glad to welcome her to our office! Read her story and why she is excited to join our community!

Bea Chang joined FIUTS last week as our new Manager of Community Programs and we’re so glad to welcome her to our office! She will be working with our hosts, homestay programs, communications, Wednesday lunches, and lots more—all of the wonderfully large shoes left behind by Ellen Frierson, who is moving into her new role as our Manager of Education Programs. Here’s Bea, introducing herself to the FIUTS community:

Neither of us spoke much Spanish. Like the two other Americans we met in Peru, we had somehow come away after three years of high school Spanish with little beyond hola and gracias. But, there we were, eating with what we could only guess as a single mother, a soft, gentle woman in a heavy skirt and wool pullover, and her young daughter. Outside, the sky over the Amanati Island was quickly fading to a charcoal black; I could make out the faces of our hosts only by the one candlelight on the ground. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about in that staggered conversation, that encounter of broken languages and gestures, but I do remember the soft brush of the breeze as it lifted off of Lake Titicaca and up through the hillside, in through the door-less hut of a kitchen, and wanting so desperately to pocket that moment and take it home with me.

I guess it is possible to say that I came to Seattle by way of Singapore and Honduras and 50 some odd countries to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in order to write about these experiences, of kind hosts and cultural connections. And I did. I spent years during and after my residency trying to convey to anyone who would listen about how a nomadic family in a yurt in Mongolia slaughtered a lamb for my friend’s birthday and how a couple in Japan picked us up so we wouldn’t miss the once in a week train that raced in and out of their village. I wrote about the wonderful culture I found in Singapore, where I spent a year and a half first as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow and then an Asia Pacific Sports Management coach; I put into words my six-month stint as a teacher in a port town in Honduras. Then, somewhere between an AmeriCorps VISTA term at UW’s Center for Leadership in Athletics and founding Basketball Education in Action, I discovered FIUTS. As the Manager of Community Programs, I am thrilled to use my love for traveling and community to connect the local to the international, to recreate in real life, for real people, what I tried to do on paper.

At a time when information is everywhere but our world seems fractured and conflicted, I, like the staff at FIUTS, believe in the power of positive connections and mutual understanding. I’d like to play a small role in bringing the richness of the world to Seattle doorsteps, and to bring a little of Seattle (“Ah, Seattle…Twilight, right? You really have vampires?”) to the world.

In my free time, I coach high school basketball girls. In my actual free time, I still like to write and hike and make an adventure out of just about anything.

So does my companion, a blue alien.

Want to get in touch with Bea? Email

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Students in Action

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jun 19, 2015 10:05 AM |
Alumni of the YLP with Bosnia hosted a successful charity event in Sarajevo.
Students in Action

Ena, Nejra, Elena, and Adna

The alumni of the Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina are hard at work using what they learned in the U.S. to do great projects back in their home communities. Here's a blog post about an initiative from four participants in last Fall's program!

By Elena Ourdan, YLP Bosnia Fall 2014

After we got back from the USA, Ena, Adna, Nejra and I knew we wanted our follow-on project to be a humanitarian action. We debated a few hours on what exactly we wanted to do, until we came up with the idea of organizing an art exhibition where we would expose photographs, drawings and paintings made by high school students from Sarajevo, and give the money to charity.

First, we searched for galleries that would lend us the space we needed, and had enough luck to come across one who was willing to do that without charging us. Then we used social media to let people know there was going to be a humanitarian exposition, which we had named « Students in action », and that those who are interested in photography and fine arts could send their work on our email. The results were amazing. We received almost 200 pictures in only a few days. Choosing what we would exhibit was really hard, but after two hours spent arguing and voting, we managed to pick out 20 paintings and 20 photographs.

The next step was to print them out and frame them. One of our friends was kind enough to offer his help and print the books we decided to sell there as well, photos and the posters for the promotion of our exhibition for free. Then, we had to find someone who would frame all that in minimum expense, since we were afraid we would exceed the budget that was given to us. Thanks to some contacts, we found out about a man who was able to do that in a short period of time for an appropriate price, and we quickly went there and made a deal.

Presenting certificates to those who donated art

When the day of the exhibition finally came, we used up the entire morning deciding where would each picture go on the wall, buying refreshments, getting our opening speech ready and trying to prepare ourselves for the afternoon.

People slowly started arriving at 6pm, and the place was filling up. The amazing choir we asked to come open the event sang three short songs, and then Adna and I held our welcome speech, where we explained to people how they could buy anything that was on the walls or those books, and that there was a box for the ones who wanted to give money without necessarily buying any of those things. More than 150 people decided to spare some time and came to support high schoolers and their art, but also to donate the money some people desperately need.

The choir singing at the event

The four of us not only had a lot of support, but we were also helped by friends of ours who came to every meeting we had and gave their best to contribute to this event. We are very thankful to them and every person who came that day and proved that united we can make something happen. The outcome of this project was further than amazing. We raised more than 1,000 KM (about $600), which surpassed any of our expectations.

A great turnout!

We are already thinking about what we could do next while keeping the name « Students in action », because now we know how many teenagers out there are willing to participate and help others.


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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Oregon Coast Global Getaway

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jun 15, 2015 07:05 PM |
Twenty-two students from ten countries embarked upon a FIUTS getaway to Seaside, Oregon.

By FIUTS Facilitator Kevin Sander

If you aren't drinking a local brew, you are wrong. Glass bottles are better placed in art projects than they are with the rest of the recycling. Roasted marshmallows are just as good on a cold, soggy night as any other time. These are some of the things we learned from the Oregon Coast.

Some German universities really do have strong school spirit. Buddhism encompasses many nondenominational systems of personal beliefs, some of which run counter to the canon of the traditional, main branches. Roasted platanos con queso fresco are absolutely delicious. These are some of the things we learned from those we went with.

Twenty-two of us from ten different countries set off for the weekend beach getaway of Seaside and the mix of the salty sea breeze and some strong personalities made for some good chemistry. Our SUVs were filled with lively chat and debate all the way down to the coast and it didn't end until we separated at the Burke Museum two days later.

Our first day was filled with exploration, first of Astoria, then of Seaside. In Astoria we found an array of delicious lunch spots and a waterfront worth wandering. Our time there was spent discussing the local history and culture and explaining why the local treat of fish & chips at Bowpicker wasn't just fast food.

After Astoria, we reunited in downtown Seaside. Seaside's main strip would be instantly familiar to anyone from beach towns of the east coast and south, but we figured that few from those places would as bravely face the Northwest sea as the kids we saw frolicking in sixty degree weather under clouds. For dinner we gathered at the Seaside Brewing Company where we could sample local and seasonal beers all while playing Jenga.

On our second day, we hit the road to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The place was packed with eager cheese lovers like it was an amusement park - a sight somewhat inscrutable to our international party. Trying to explain how cheese could inspire such fanaticism proved difficult, but at least everyone agreed that it was a unique experience.

The rest of our Saturday was spent exploring various beaches and points of interest along the coast before we eventually found ourselves back at Seaside for a bonfire. Everyone brought things to roast and share, so the variety was quite impressive. We had everything from plantains and corn cobs, to chicken legs and oysters, to more standard American fare of hot dogs and marshmallows. It rained sporadically, but it didn't seem to faze any of us who were too busy discussing culture, religion, sharing stories, and enjoying good company to notice.

During the morning of our last day we split up to explore more beaches, go kayaking, or do some shopping in town. We met up again at Fort Stevens near Astoria before we had to head back to the Burke. We climbed all over the old WWII fort and took in the scenic landscapes around us in the sun. We lingered for as long as possible as none of us quite wanted to leave the park or each other, but sure enough we forced ourselves to get back to Seattle and return to normal life.

The Oregon Coast is a getaway home to so much of what makes the Northwest special: rainy beaches, picturesque landscapes, local cuisine and beverages, and a people that are intensely proud of it all. Through FIUTS, we were able to experience this unique region through dozens of distinct lenses reflecting the diversity of our perspectives.


Join FIUTS for an upcoming event! Check out our online calendar to see what's happening.

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Spring 2015 Photo Contest: There's No Place Like Home

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jun 12, 2015 10:35 AM |
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Beautiful photos from around the world!

The quarterly FIUTS Photo Contest is an opportunity for members of the FIUTS community to share images from around the world. The theme for this quarter was "There's No Place Like Home" and we received photos from all over the world of places that remind members of our community of what home means to them. We also had two ties for second place and for third place - so this quarter, everyone's a winner!

Take a look at the beautiful images below and keep an eye out for information about the next photo contest, which will be in Fall quarter. Thank you so much to everyone for sharing your beautiful pictures!


First Place: Almora, India

Photographer: Rajesh Chaunsali

"The photo was taken at Almora, a town in the lower Himalayas. It aptly captures the traditional houses in the Himalayan villages surrounded by mesmerizing scenic beauty."


Second Place: Issaquah, Washington

Photographer: Wenjie Li

"This photo was taken last Christmas at my friend's parent house in Issaquah. Well designed table, awesome food, loving parents... No other thing can compare with the "Christmas LOVE". LOVE is essential of home."


Second Place: Bari, Italy

Photographer: Fabio Anaclerio


This theater, TEATRO MARGHERITA, was built literally within the sea by my fellow citizens, to avoid an old law according which: only one theater was allowed on Bari soil. Bari already had a theater and the rich owner claimed to this law to impede "common people" to enjoy the noble art of drama, in fact in his theater only rich people, politics and members of the clergy were allowed.

TEATRO MARGHERITA was burned several times, but my compatriots always reconstruct it stronger.

When some years later the other theater, TEATRO PETRUZZELLI, catched on fire, my fellow citizens allowed its owner to perform all the shows in TEATRO MARGHERITA, showing their magnaminity.

Today, free exhibition and fairs take place in TEATRO MARGHERITA .

For all this reason, and due to the fact that it was built within the sea, in a town which main business is fishing, it has always been considered the real house of all BARESI...


Third Place: Magdalena, Colombia

Photographer: Maria Artunduaga (Colombia)

Title: "Returning for supper"

Ciénaga de Pijiño. Magdalena, Colombia

School in the morning, and a full afternoon along his father fishing in the Ciénaga; makes up the daily routine of this Colombian 16-year old boy. This time, they made room for the occasional tourists who wanted to explore the area in their middle sized boat. The sunset signaled the time to go back, the most beautiful colors set our path home. Marveled by the landscape, I asked him what he thought of his daily journey. "This is usual" - he said to me in a soft voice - “...there are no roads to get back home, the river is all we have.” And there I was, thinking that I had witnessed the most incredible sunset of my life, what I really saw was the tenacity and resilience of my people.


Third Place: Cabugay Gamay, Islas de Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo, Philippines

Photographer: Fritzie T. Celino-Brady

Cabugao Gamay is one of the islets in the Islas de Gigantes, an island chain which is part of the municipality of Carles, Iloilo, Philippines.

Iloilo is my home province and is located in the Western Visayas region of Philippines.

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Submit Your International Student Orientation Session Proposals

Posted by Era Schrepfer at Jun 10, 2015 04:55 PM |
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Form for call for entries for presenters at FIUTS International Student Orientation.
Submit Your International Student Orientation Session Proposals

Panel at Orientation, 2013

Do you have information about a part of our campus or community that you'd like to share with incoming international students? If so, you are invited to join FIUTS in welcoming over 2,000 new international students to the University of Washington as an information session presenter this September!

FIUTS International Student Orientation is a 10-day program for international undergraduate, graduate, and exchange students and scholars beginning their studies at the UW. The orientation program includes social events and informational sessions designed to introduce students to important resources on and off campus, make friendships, explore our city, and support a smooth transition to the UW community.

From Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25th, over 40 information sessions will be offered to new international students on a variety of topics. Sessions take place in the HUB, with two to three sessions running concurrently, and each session lasting about 50-minutes. Attendance ranges from 25-150 students per session. This year, sessions will be offered in six thematic areas: Campus Resources, Seattle Community, American Culture, Jobs & Internships, Housing, and Health & Wellness. Sessions can be presented by multiple presenters - from campus and the community - and in various formats. We encourage collaborative, creative and interactive session proposals!

To Submit a Session Proposal

Please complete a short online session proposal form by July 13, 2015. Selected presenters will be notified and scheduled by the end of July.

On behalf of the new students joining our community, thanks in advance for your support!

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Facilitator Corner: Isabella Ning

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jun 02, 2015 12:50 PM |
Hear from one of our amazing volunteer student leaders!

FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over the world 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 Isabella!

We are raising funds this month through our Annual Campaign to continue to provide training and support to amazing students like Isabella. Click here to donate to the FIUTS Leadership Development Fund!

Name: Isabella Kunru Ning
Country: China
Major: Pre-Molecular &Cell Biology
Class: 2018
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Feb.2015

Brief Introduction
Hi everybody! My name is Isabella and I’m a freshman from Chengdu, China pre-majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology! I became a FIUTS facilitator 2 months ago and I now have facilitated for about 15 events! (Right! Around 2 events per week!) I really enjoy being a facilitator at FIUTS cause I always get the chance to know people from different countries, different backgrounds and different cultures! Isn’t that cool that you can experience the whole world by just participating in FIUTS?

I’m so happy that I get the chance to share my personal experience with FIUTS here and hopefully I’ll meet you in person in the future events!

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
I received emails from FIUTS couple months ago before I arrived on campus. From reading the emails I got to know all the useful information for a freshman at my new arrival. After that I participated a lot of FIUTS events such as Opening day, Scavenger hunt, Cruise, and Gas work BBQ… they were all fun and left incredible memories in my mind. FIUTS facilitators were working effectively with high efficiency. I always want myself to be one of them to help more people.

FIUTS facilitators are the ones who represent the whole FIUTS to make everybody in the community feels welcome and be cared about.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
My favorite FIUTS event is Wednesday lunch! I really like food and also during Wednesday lunches I can always meet new people, enjoy wonderful conversation and wonderful food with them. And also its very convenient, just come after your class and leave whenever you want. Wednesday lunches provide the opportunity for people to gather together and build up personal connections regularly. And the food there is incredibly good too!

Tips/comments for peer facilitators
-Don’t be shy! Everybody is nice and everybody is there willing to help so just go ask when you need it!

-FIUTS is a community so we want every student to feel welcome. Especially in the events, go talk to people you do not know instead of staying people you are already familiar with. Just practice!

-Be confident! FIUTS is awesome and so are you! - FIUTS facilitators are awesome too!

Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here.

More Facilitator Corner posts:

Lucy Deng

Nhung Le

Abigail Lim

Ferris Maghi

Kevin Sander

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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