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Winter 2015 Photo Contest: Travel the World

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 19, 2015 01:35 PM |
Beautiful photos by members of the FIUTS community from around the globe.


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 "Travel the World" and we received photos from trips that members of our community have taken in the U.S., Nepal, Switzerland, Colombia, and more.

As usual, there were so many submissions and it was incredibly difficult for the judges to choose just three winners! Thank you so much to everyone for sharing your beautiful pictures.

First Place: Arizona, USA

Photographer: Tetsugoro Matsubara (Japan)

"I took this photo during my bicycle trip in Arizona. Loading all my camping gear and biking for 16 days, I've traveled over 500 miles. Starting from Phoenix, I went to Sedona, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, and was heading to Las Vegas when I was caught in a snowstorm. I ended up hitchhiking with my bicycle and made my way to Las Vegas just in time for the New Years Celebration! I left a city called Flagstaff and was half way to Grand Canyon when I took this photo (It is about 6 miles past a town called Cameron). It was extremely cold there (14℉ or -10℃), and even during the day, my water inside the bottle started to freeze. Camping was tough but I was awarded by stunning sunsets and sunrises, spectacular scenery, and there were always people that helped me along. Definitely was a trip of a lifetime."

Second Place: Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Photographer: Maike Douglas (Brazil)

"This photo was taken during the FIUTS trip to Olympic National Park, WA, on February 15th. Specifically, this place is called Hurricane Ridge, one of the most stunning places I had the opportunity to visit there. By having "Hurricane" as one of its names, you may probably have a sense of how cold and windy it is on the top of this mountain."

Third Place: Sarlahi, Nepal

Photographer: Katherine Tan (Malaysia)

"The photo was taken in Sarlahi, Nepal (close to the Indian border) of a mountain goat on top of water buffalo by a countryside road. This picture warms my heart as it reminds me that friendship is without borders. Even though the mountain goat and the water buffalo are such different animals, they can exist in harmony and enjoy each other's presence. I really love it when cultures come together to create joyful and learning experiences!"

Congratulations to the winners, and be sure to stop by the FIUTS office to pick up your prize!

And here are all of the amazing photos we received (shown in no particular order). Thank you all again for your submissions, which provide a beautiful glimpse into places around the world.

Los Angeles, California, USA

Photographer: Zhen Xu (China)

Zhen, who shot this photo during the road trip in California, says: "This pic is taken at dusk at Santa Monica Beach, LA. It was shot by iPhone without any filter or PS management. You can see both peace and surprise from the people on the beach."


Oregon, USA

Photographer: Yuanjiang Song (China)

Yuanjiang, who took this photo of a bird while traveling in Oregon, says: "I thought the bird had a positive attitude towards the winter!"


San Francisco, California, USA

Photographer: Lauren Young (New Zealand)

Lauren took this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. She says: "We trekked across the Golden Gate Bridge and to the top of a hill to catch the sunset and the evening traffic - stunning!"


Porbandar, India

Photographer: Taru Singhal (India)

Taru says: "This picture of a Camel Cart was taken at a beach in Porbandar, which is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, India."


Veytaux, Switzerland

Photographer: Jason Ye (China)

Jason traveled to Switzerland in October 2011 and took this photo of the Château de Chillon.


Seattle, Washington, USA

Photographer: Wenjie Li (China)

Wenjie took this photo on June 22, 2014, at the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon. He calles it "Holding hands~" and says: "Traveling in the modern days now, have all sort of different ways like by driving bicycle, car, motorcycle, plane, boat... It makes our lives much easier but also busier. Nothing would be better than true friends holding hands together running together towards the finishing line. I believe that's the best of traveling."


Nagoya, Japan

Photographer: Lynn Masuda (Australia)

Lynn took this photo in Nagoya, Japan, of "dangling radishes at an organic market in December's cold winter. They are drying so that they can be pickled and eaten in the spring."



Photographer: Songtian (Tim) Zeng (China)

Songtian took this photo in India in 2008, at 6 AM as people were bathing in the river. He says: "This photo always reminds me how peaceful and simple life could be."


Hong Kong

Photographer: Bingyan Mei (China)

Bingyan took this photo of the Hong Kong Skyline at Sky 100 Observation Deck in 2014.


Santa Cruz de Mompox, Colombia

Photographer: Maria Alexandra Artunduaga (Colombia)

Maria took this photo while fishing with a group of local fishermen on the Magdalena River.


Thank you again to everyone who participated, and we hope you'll participate again! The theme of the Spring 2015 FIUTS Photo Contest is "There's No Place Like Home." Send a photo that represents any place that you think of as "home" to All photos must have been taken by the person submitting them. Please include your name, where you are from, and a brief description of the photo including where it was taken. The deadline to submit photos is noon on May 27, 2015.

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Thao's Story

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 17, 2015 04:25 PM |
What's it like to grow up between two cultures? FIUTS Facilitator Thao shares her experiences!

Thao Tran is a University of Washington senior and a FIUTS facilitator. In this blog post, she shares her story of cultural identity and what it means to grow up with the challenges and joys of navigating between two different cultures.

Photo at right by Saifullah Muhammad/Emdee Photography.


Hi! So my name is Thao Tran!

I’m a senior here at the University of Washington and I consider myself a Vietnamese American. That’s basically the short version. The version I tell people when I first meet them because I think it’s short, sweet, and to the point…and I don’t like to drear on and on about myself. But the truth?

The truth is… Thao is just a nickname that everyone calls me because I have yet to meet a non-Vietnamese person who could say my name right. My full first name is actually Phuong Thao and though I consider myself a Vietnamese American, I’m actually only 1/8th Vietnamese.

My family originated in China but one of my ancestors decided to move to Vietnam so though my mother is full Chinese, she didnit speak a word of it. My father on the other hand is ¾ Chinese and ¼ Vietnamese. Then the Vietnam War happened. My father and mother were forced to flee to America during their early 20s and coincidentally met here, in America, and had me. Therefore I’m actually almost full Chinese by blood, raised in the Vietnamese culture in America.

Despite the fact that I was raised in America, however, English wasn’t necessarily my first language. You see, in my family I am the youngest of four kids and each and every one of us knew that the adults hated when we spoke English; my siblings never spoke it in front of them. They always spoke English amongst themselves though. As a result, by the time I entered Kindergarten the only people who were able to understand everything I said were people who understood both English and Vietnamese.

Unfortunately, the school I went to was made of mostly Caucasians. I was the only full Asian student in my entire grade.

Trust me. I checked.

As a result this caused me to be isolated and I had difficulty in not only expressing myself in school but also to my parents.

Something unique in my family is also the fact that in every generation one child is born with red hair and pale skin which also changes as they get older. Oddly enough I was that kid. My mother told me that when I was born I came out with red hair for a couple of days before it started becoming blond.

By the time I entered kindergarten though I had prominently blond hair.

By middle school it had turned to a very light brown and now?

Now my hair is turning black.

So I’m basically turning Asian though my pale skin doesn't seem to go away no matter how long I stay in the sun.

So imagine this: a Caucasian looking girl with blond hair who has an Asian name and who is struggling to talk because she’s used to talking in a mix of languages. If that doesn't confuse other kids I don’t know what will!

Now by college, I think I speak English rather well if I do say so myself.

On the way of becoming fluent in English, however, I've been slowly forgetting Vietnamese and I regret that I don’t know more about my family’s culture. Then roughly two years ago I studied abroad in Vietnam for 6 weeks. And after coming back I really missed the cultural exchange I had with the high school kids there.

I know I call myself a Vietnamese American and all but truthfully I’m still really confused about the culture. To this day I don’t feel completely comfortable telling people about Vietnamese culture because I can’t differentiate if what I was raised with is Vietnamese culture or family tradition. But after a couple of weeks of coming back to America, a friend of mine introduced me to FIUTS (Foundation of International Understanding Through Students) and to be frank, after my first event I've become hooked. Even though I’m not an international student, I've experienced some of the difficulties and joys of living in-between different cultures. As a result I've also grown to love interacting with various different students from various different cultures and hearing their stories. So now I’m a volunteer or facilitator at FIUTS.

And that’s where I am so far.

But yeah… that’s the long version of my story.

Now imagine if I told that story to everyone I met haha.

Thao (third from left) with fellow members of this year's CulturalFest Performance Committee

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Exploring Seattle with Jade: Row House Cafe

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 13, 2015 11:12 AM |
Jade, one of the FIUTS student bloggers this quarter, shares her favorite places to get great food in Seattle.

Jade Onnalin Kajornklam is one of this quarter's FIUTS student bloggers. Jade is from Thailand and is an international exchange student at UW. In her free time, Jade enjoys exploring different places to eat around Seattle. Her blog posts will share her favorite locations so that other international students can learn about them too! Read on to learn more about one of Jade's Seattle restaurant recommendations.

Hello guys, I’m here again. I can’t believe this winter quarter is ending! Sadly, I had no idea that my third column will turn to be my very last one. Time always runs ahead of our consciousness, doesn’t it? We get a little bit of the sun and ultimately a near fully bloomed beautiful Quad during this unavoidable disgusting dead week. In small wicked and weird part of my brain honestly thinks that someone should announce university area as a war zone during this time. Zombies are walking everywhere. They want to eat your brain, fight it baby. Keep your brain fresh. Study hard and win it. It will pass you by even before you know it. If you ever get tired, just remember you are not in this alone. And in no time, you will be enjoying spring break and perhaps going to celebrate at this little place I am going to walk you to today.


Alright, this place I proudly present to you today is called ‘Row House Cafe’. It is a very first brunch I had since I got to Seattle. Located in the South Lake Union area, standing upon modern buildings, there is, literally just like the name, a row house hidden in between. The restaurant looks so different you have to look back twice if you were walking by. It looks like a little farm house where beautiful hipsters or gypsies live in, the perfect way to describe the look is that it is the exact kind of house you would totally, randomly and luckily find if you get lost in a dark forest in fantasy movies. Walking in, you will face the counter full with freshly baked goods. The place appears to be small, yet they manage to have different vibes in each part.

As always guys, I recommend the place with outstanding menu ( I do not compromise on that. Now what is so special about this place is that firstly, they have this sexiest brunch dish made with croissant and brie cheese, 1000 LAYER FRENCH TOAST.

Secondly, the staff is extraordinary nice. Getting inside feeling trapped into a new world gives you a little break from life. Row House Café simply offers you a little escape to reboot your energy, an adventure actually. Lastly, it is so close to the water! After finished my meal, my friend and I decided to walk digesting our food and chilling by the water at Chandler’s cove, where you can take the water wind in your hair and enjoy daydreaming about having your own boat one day. It is within a five-minute walk range from Row House Café.

These two places are extremely close to bus stops and it only takes approximately fifteen minutes from the University District. Since it is so easy to have one perfect day after our exams, why don’t you just text your friends now and plan ahead to check it out?

It has been a big pleasure writing this blog, it gives me an opportunity to have a responsibility and to share my passion. I hope I can help inspire someone in some small ways, I don’t hope much, but I do hope. Enjoy your spring break guys.

Take care,



For more about Jade and the other Winter 2015 student bloggers, click here.

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Stepping to Build Community

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 12, 2015 10:45 AM |
A UW alum writes about her experiences with a unique cultural event on campus.

Guest post by Eva Marie Green, a UW alumna. Eva wrote this piece to highlight a unique cultural event that she experienced as a student, and includes insights from international students about their participation in this event.

Step is a dance form that originated with African-American fraternities in the 1950’s, but today it is embraced by other ethnicities as well [1]. Blurring ethnic lines, the art of step has reached beyond its African-American roots to include many other cultures, including but not limited to Latino and Asian communities. This type of dance has helped build a sense of unity among brothers and sisters in multicultural Greek letter organizations for decades.

I spent the last three weeks with the step team from Lambda Phi Epsilon (Lambdas), an Asian interest fraternity at the University of Washington. Step dance helps build a sense of community in the fraternities and sororities of the United Greek Council (UGC) on the University of Washington campus [2]. The UGC has been one of the leading contributors of step promotion by holding workshops, showcases, and competitions on and around campus. Of the twelve fraternities and sororities recognized by the UGC, eight have a step team, a stroll line, or a hip hop crew. This gives opportunity for all members and friends of the UGC, whether or not they step, to participate in campus-wide events to foster the cultures of their community.

I had the privilege to attend the practices of the Lambda step team as they prepared for a competition that would soon be taking place. The competition they were preparing for was the Sixth Annual Step Out Against Domestic Violence Showcase, which was an annual philanthropic event organized by Sigma Psi Zeta, a UGC sorority [3]. Although it is open to anyone, the main performances showcased UGC organizations such as Sigma Beta Rho and alpha Kappa Delta Phi competing for a cash prize.

Walking into Kane Hall on the night of the competition was nerve wracking. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never been to an event like this before. All around me, students dressed in their Greek letters were greeting each other with hugs, handshakes and highfives, albeit these were the same people they would be competing against in mere minutes. Undoubtedly, there was a sense of camaraderie among the Asians, Latinos, and African-Americans in the room. They were there to support their friends and be part of the community. When asked how step builds community, Vivian Yu, the co-chair that helped in organizing the event stated, “Stepping and dance are great ways to bring people together. These step teams work together for weeks building unity, the key is to try and sound like one person on stage.”

Judged by a panel of step experts, the Lambda Phi Epsilon step team was determined the overall winner among the competition. Bryan Dosono, president of UGC and former member of the Lambda Phi Epsilon step team, explained how unity goes beyond the performance and becomes part of the community. Per Dosono, “Step builds strength in unity. This tradition is embraced in our communities because it allows marginalized groups to unite against oppression, break out of their confines, and express themselves in a very raw way.”

Since its inception at the University of Washington in 1999, Lambda Phi Epsilon has viewed step as a rite of passage for new members to encourage unity and fellowship [4]. This process allows joining together of Asian Americans as well as other Asian ethnicities from all over the world. Gilbert Zhou is a sophomore that joined the fraternity this year, and he is an international student from China. When asked how step has made him feel like part of the community, he said, “Not once has anyone [from Lambda Phi Epsilon] made me feel like I didn’t belong here. Step let me feel like part of the group. My parents in China don’t even know what stepping is—it isn’t something from my country.”

Overall, I went into this knowing little about step as a form of dance. Going through the process of preparing for a competition with the Lambdas taught me that step dance is a lot more than stomping your feet and clapping your hands. And though I had only a glimpse of what step dance in these communities entail, I learned that cultural preservation drives these traditions from one generation to the next so the art of step will forever be moving forward.

Eva Marie Green is a University of Washington alumna (2014) who majored in Dance and American Indian Studies.

[1] Fine, Elizabeth Calvert. Soulstepping: African American Step Shows. University of Illinois Press, 2003.
[2] The mission of UW UGC is to promote unity and respect among multicultural Greek organizations on campus.
[3] The idea for the “Step Out” philanthropic awareness showcase originated in 2008 by Sigma Psi Zeta Member Thu Nguyen who felt that domestic violence was an issue that needed more visibility in the community.
[4] Lambda Phi Epsilon was the winner of the 2013 “Huskies in Action” contest, hosted by the Student Philanthropy Education Program.

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Our Olympic Peninsula

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 11, 2015 11:35 AM |
Adventurous students took a memorable trip to the stunningly beautiful Olympic Peninsula.

By Kevin Sander, FIUTS Facilitator

The Olympic Peninsula is a land of extremes. Here, one can witness coastlines crenulated and fragmented, yet unyielding against the relentless battering of the sea; one can get lost among forests of mossy cloaked giants, their features dappled by sunlight sifted through canopy and veiling mists; one can stand atop icy mountain redoubts, overlooking entire realms of Earth stretched out for miles in every direction. Here nature is strange, it is alluring, and it is grand. Picking and choosing between which sights to see and which to leave behind is a dilemma as epic as the landscape itself – so we didn’t. Ambitious and bursting with adventures zeal, the sixteen participants in this year’s Olympic Peninsula Global Getaway opted to undertake an uncompromising, whirlwind tour of this extraordinary region. In just one short weekend, we discovered more than we could have anticipated and left with experiences and friendships that will keep for a lifetime.

It was early Valentine’s Day morning and anticipation was already blooming within the group as we packed up our things and started on our journey. The drive to Port Angeles was our opportunity to become better acquainted with the other participants and muse over all the exciting ideas we had for things to go see and do. We arrived at the ToadLily House Hostel just after noon and we were pleased to find ourselves well situated within a quiet neighborhood, but still only a minute’s walk from downtown Port Angeles.

After settling in at the hostel, we took some time to explore the town. We perused the local farmer’s market and enjoyed ocean and mountain vistas from the city pier. We might have meandered longer, but when we learned that we could still make it to Cape Flattery before sunset, the group’s collective affinity for adventure took over. We were off again. It was close, but we made it to the furthest north-western point in the United States with just enough time to hike down to the viewing areas and relish the scenery around us as the sun was setting. Rising out of the Pacific, Cape Flattery seems to defy the conventional forces of nature. Sheer cliffs and sea stacks boldly battle erosion even as the waters below swirl and crash around them. It is as if the land itself is stretched as far into the sea as it can bear, ending in the fractured assortment of cliffs, stacks, and islands that captivated us as we arrived. Seemingly less fazed by the clashing of land and sea below were the many bald eagles that soared around us, shuttling to and from Tatoosh Island and the mainland. Between the eagles above and the sea below, the sun sank towards the horizon, leaving brilliant waves color in its wake. Little did we suspect that the incredible panorama before us was only foreshadowing for the many more amazing things we had yet to see.

Photo by Soren Vejlstrup of the view from Cape Flattery.


Kevin and Sawatt celebrating the success of “Team Sunset” at Cape Flattery.

“Hiking up to the ends of the U.S. at Cape Flattery, I was struck by the breath-taking views of the pristine turquoise sea water surrounded by sheer cliffs dotted with hanging trees. I could feel the powerful force of the waves that came crashing on the boulders, sending resounding echoes throughout the entire premises.” – Sawatt Jeffrey

We were up late even after getting back from Cape Flattery. Stargazing, wandering the town, and the company of new friends proved too distracting to settle down. Eventually we did get sleep and we were up early again on Sunday, eager to get to our first destination of the day: Lake Crescent. The lake, nestled within the Olympic Mountains, was cold, clear, and remarkably still. We were almost afraid to disturb its tranquility, so we enjoyed a quiet, lakeside moment together. However, it didn’t take too long before our collective urge to explore took over and we found ourselves marching down a nearby trail to find Marymere Falls. A misty haze veiled long lengths of the trail as lake-bound waters whipped around cascading creeks. However, the forest itself, much like Lake Crescent nearby, was nearly motionless and almost completely silent – refusing even to rustle with the whispers of the wind. It seemed as if we visitors and the falls themselves were the only things in motion, traveling together within a world stopped in time.

Group photo at Marymere Falls.

It was hard to imagine that we could be more easily enchanted by a forest than the one we had found at Maymere Falls, but our second destination for the day was able to do just that. In fact, the Hoh Rainforest surpassed any and all expectations we had for it. Ancient trees, draped in robes of moss and lichen, watched as we passed underneath and entered the Hall of Mosses. In places, beams of sunlight managed to penetrate the thick forest canopy, spilling between the spindling branches, and causing steam to rise wherever it touched. Branches and roots contorted weirdly into tangled knots, fresh saplings grew out of the bodies of trees that had fallen before, and clusters of giant mushrooms ate away at the dead and rotting. Cycles of life and death played out in every stage around us, interweaved so seamlessly as to make it nearly impossible to tell what parts of the forest were dying and which were just being born. The majesty of the Hoh Rainforest, like so much of the Olympic Peninsula, refuses to be captured by words. Even the pictures we took, as beautiful as they are, fail to truly convey merely the splendor of its image. We were embedded within the forest, with every sense present and open, and yet still we confessed to one another that it was difficult to take it all in.

Photo by Maike Douglas of the Hoh Rainforest.

Photo by Zihan Song of the Hoh Rainforest.

Our meandering through the forest eventually took us to its namesake river. Just beyond the reach of forest branches, we found along the banks of the Hoh River beaches of well-worn stones made warm by the sun. It was the perfect place to rest after a long day of hiking and it was tempting to spend the rest of our time next to the river chatting, skipping stones, and surrounded by unhindered views of forests and mountains. However, we agreed that there were still more extraordinary experiences left to be had elsewhere on the peninsula, so we bid a fond farewell to the Hoh and set off for our third major destination for the day.

Now the race was on. Enthralled with the forest’s bounty, we had let ourselves lose track of time. Our goal was still to reach Rialto Beach in time for sunset, but sunset was only ninety minutes away – and so was the beach! We caravanned along the most efficient route possible, anxiously watching as the sun seemed to dash westward faster than we could. However, our resolve was validated when we reached Rialto with time to spare. From atop an amphitheater of driftwood, we were rendered speechless by the seascape before us. The sun drifted towards the horizon, its rays dancing among ocean swells. A rhythm beat out by the waves rose in symphony with the hymn of the wind, echoing over sea and stone. Silhouetted against sky and ocean, earthen monoliths rose from the surf, framing the entire scene. In this ballet of the elements, every minute was a new act. A spectacular new pallet of colors repainted the set with each incremental change in the sun’s position; rising in brilliant yellows and oranges, a crescendo of bold burgundy ringed in translucent green, and a final resolution within the tranquil depths of royal purple crowned in violet – fade to black. From our seats, we tried to soak in every moment of one of the most remarkable performances on earth, but soon enough the sun’s part was over and the world around us vanished into shadow. However, above us a new stage was being set, and the stars appeared in a shining overture. Undiminished by city lights, the heavens were on full display. Orion chasing the Pleiades, Polaris defining north, fleet Venus in the west near a faint Mars, a waning crescent moon; some lights radiating from thousands of light-years away, but all immediately relevant to us in that moment. Unable to leave the universe’s exhibition, we came together to build an impromptu fire, warding away the cold and extending our stay just a little longer as we lay on our backs looking up.

Celebrating yet another smashing success by “Team Sunset” at Rialto Beach.

Photo by Kevin Sander of sunset at Rialto Beach.

Zihan Song’s image of the night sky over the Olympic Peninsula

“Walking through the forest, breathing fresh air, contemplating the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my existence and looking at the sky completely full of stars just made me realize how small and at the same time powerful we are as human beings.” – Maike Douglas

Day three was our last on the Olympic Peninsula, but that didn’t stop us from packing it as full with adventure as the other two. It was a team effort, but that morning we managed to prepare and enjoy a massive breakfast of banana pancakes, sausage, hash browns and eggs all while packing all our belongings into the vans and cleaning the entire hostel before departure. Once again, we drove deep into Olympic National Park to find the Boulder Creek trail. Hidden away within the mountains, overlooking brooks and shaded under pine, Boulder Creek’s secret treasures are the hot spring pools scattered up and down its length. Finding a pool to ourselves, we basked in waters warmed by the Earth itself. Without realizing it, we whiled away hours just relaxing, chatting, and sharing some of our personal highs and lows throughout the trip. It was well into the afternoon when we finally worked up the willpower to leave. Before we could head back to Seattle, however, we still had one last stop to make on the peninsula.

With just over an hour until closing time, we made it to the peak of Hurricane Ridge. We were greeted at the top by cold gusts and trails covered in ice and snow, but nothing could chill our excitement at the views we found there. From our vantage, the world spread before us like a map; to the north, Port Angeles lay sleepily at the water’s edge while across the Strait of Juan de Fuca all of Victoria was clearly visible along with the great extent of Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, and Canada’s Coast Mountains; to the east, Mount Baker stood foremost amongst the mighty Cascades, itself looming over Skagit and Whatcom counties; in the south, the Olympic Mountains, wrapped in evergreen forests and capped in snow, stood stalwart and impressive. Nonetheless, it was the sun setting in the west that again stole our attention. In one last spectacular display, the sky was lit up in a spectrum as full and vibrant as the one we had witnessed the day before. We might have stayed until well after the sun had left if it weren’t for the fact that the park was closing for the day. We piled back into the vans and set off for home.

Group photo from atop Hurricane Ridge.


Panoramic by Shelly Sun at Hurricane Ridge.

“I definitely will never forget the incredible sunset on the Hurricane Ridge or the Olympic National Park landscape. I was not expecting to have such a wonderful and unforgettable trip.” – Marilia Almeida

We had originally planned to get back to Seattle much earlier than we actually did, but getting lost in the natural wonders of the Olympic Peninsula was well worth the extra time. Plus, the late return gave us the opportunity for one more memorable moment together. From the Bainbridge Island ferry, the Seattle nightscape welcomed us home. After a weekend embedded in nature, the spectacle of the city lights felt a little surreal. From CenturyLink Field to the Space Needle, it was a sight beautiful, human, and altogether different than those we were returning from. Staring at the city across Sound waters, it was a moment of reflection on the experiences that we had shared and the relationships that we had built over such a short period of time. Together, we agreed that there are rare moments in life that have the power to reshape your perspective and change your point of view. They are moments that live in feeling and in memory. No matter how much you wish you could, they are moments that refuse to be shared through any combination of words or images within your power to create. They are moments that simply must be lived. This Global Getaway was one of those moments.

Special thanks to all the participants for their wonderful pictures, their words, and their adventurous spirits. This trip was made so memorable because of them.

“Visiting places such as Hurricane Ridge and finding the hot springs in the mountains was definitely something I never thought I would be able to do while living in US. I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to meet all of you and sharing a bit of my story. I will never stop exploring the fantastic world we have just outside of our doors.” -Maike Douglas

It was what I had imagined and even more majestic and magical… I felt as if my horizon has been broadened, being able to interact with people of different ethnicities and life perspectives… At the end of this trip, I have come to realize that there is a whole world out there still awaiting for me to explore and this is just the beginning.” - Marissa Lee

“I was so worried about the trip would be tough for me because of language barrier and not knowing anyone there. However, everything went well... This is definitely the most wonderful trip I have ever had.” - Chia-ling Sun (Shelly)

“I had so much fun from this trip and really enjoyed exploring nature in Olympic National Park. I have so many good memories during this trip. It was my privilege to have such an unforgettable trip in my life with wonderful people I met at one of the most beautiful places on the Earth.” – Heesu Jo


Want to take a memorable trip with FIUTS? Check out the Spring Break trip to Canada!

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We are alike, as international students

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Mar 05, 2015 12:25 PM |
A blog post about language learning and cultural adaptation from one of this quarter's student bloggers.
We are alike, as international students

Zhiming's notes for learning Chinese

You Li is one of this quarter's FIUTS student bloggers. She is from Shanghai, China and is a junior at UW. Having lived in both New York and Seattle, she has a unique perspective on life as an international student in the U.S. Read on to learn about some of her experiences!

It was really a coincidence and a pleasure that I met this new friend, Zhiming Ke. He is an American and has a Chinese name. The first sentence he said surprised me because it was in Chinese. It was my first time talking about Chinese culture and study abroad experiences with an American who speaks Chinese. I decided to write down my thoughts to record this memory.

Since Grade 6, Zhiming started to learn Chinese and the first lesson was Pinyin which is like phonetic symbols in English. After that, he learned to write simple Chinese character and practiced writing characters by hearing. Now, he can speak Chinese to me fluently. I asked him why he was interested in Chinese and even majored in it, he smiled and said that he just like it. He then told me that during the past years, he went to China twice to study and understand Chinese culture. In my perspective, his life in China was similar to mine in America. He met some Chinese friends in elective courses, he traveled around in the holidays and he even prefers Chinese food to American food.

When he started to share his study abroad experience with me, he said “I did not know the feeling when I saw many international students in the US but I got to know that after studying abroad. In the strange atmosphere of culture, no one could literally understand your meanings, except your peers and yourself.” I nodded to agree because this is also what I thought when I first came to America five years ago. I no longer felt confident about my English and had a strong sense of homesickness. I was surprised to find out that everyone who goes to a new country will confront this situation no matter what nationality he is and which country he visits because culture shock does exist.

Actually, Zhiming now is very confident to express his mind in Chinese during our communication. He said that Chinese people would commend him when they heard he speaks Chinese that fluently and then chatted with him. Hearing this, I suddenly wanted to know that what his feelings were when he heard some international students speak in English with an accent, because I wondered whether Chinese people have higher tolerance for Americans who speak Chinese with an accent comparing to Americans’ attitude toward Chinese who speak English with an accent. He replied that it was acceptable with the accent as long as Americans understand what others are talking about. Even though I learned English since I was in kindergarten, I still had Chinese accent. Five years ago, I went to New York for high school and because of my accent, I did not get the leading role in school musical. After that, I made up my mind to learn to speak original English.

We chatted about an hour and I found out a lot similarities in our study abroad experience. On the way to learning another language, we both met with difficulties and sometimes may not be fully understood by others. In school, we also have to use that language to write essays and take exams.Though language can be a challenge sometimes, interest and courage will accompany us to live and study in the foreign country.


For more about You Li and the other Winter 2015 student bloggers, click here.

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Announcing the Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Feb 27, 2015 03:10 PM |
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A new scholarship supports students who are promoting cross-cultural understanding between Japan and the United States.

FIUTS is excited to announce the establishment of the Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award, which will grant two $5,000 scholarships each year to University of Washington students who are promoting cross-cultural understanding between Japan and the United States through their involvement in FIUTS programs.

This gift was made in memory of Betty Ogawa's legacy and lifelong commitment to promoting Japan/US relations and building understanding and harmony between our two countries.

Betty Jean Crouch came to the University of Washington in the mid 1960’s to study sociology. While a student and volunteer for the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), she met Hiro Ogawa, a Japanese student studying business, who would later become her husband of more than 46 years.

Together, Betty and Hiro Ogawa spent 20 years living in Japan, where they raised their two sons. Betty became a cross-cultural consultant specializing in Japan/US relations and studying Japanese language, culture, and art. Hiro established a Container Leasing Corporation named CAI International in 1989 and was able to take it public in 2007 as the first Japanese founder to start his business in the US to IPO on the NYSE.

Applications for the award are due on April 15th of each year. For more information and to apply, please visit the application page.

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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Te Fare O Tamatoa

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Feb 26, 2015 04:45 PM |
CulturalFest is Saturday! Get to know one of our new performers this year, Te Fare o Tamatoa.

We are so excited to welcome Te Fare O Tamatoa to CulturalFest this year! They'll be performing at Meany Hall at the Performance Showcase on Saturday, along with many other talented performers from around the globe. If you don't have your tickets yet, be sure to get them today online or in the FIUTS office in HUB 206!

How did your group begin? Tell a little bit of your story.

In the summer of 2006, Te Fare O Tamatoa evolved from a small group of like minded individuals passionate about the Tahitian culture. Encouraged by a local Tahitian family, it has since grown to not only educate people in the class room, but educate through performance in public appearances around the Seattle area and surrounding cities.

What do you hope the audience will take away from your performance?


Many of the Polynesian cultures are similar yet so very different. We are a close people who share many similarities, and we each still have our own cultures significant to our island. We hope that the audience will have a better understanding of the Tahitian culture in its artistic veiw through song and dance.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your group?

Taken from the story of Te Vahine ai ta'ata (the man eating woman), Te Fare O Tamatoa's performance will be a song and dance about young love at first sight and how it flourished over time and intensified.

Learn more about Te Fare O Tamatoa:


CulturalFest Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online. Discounted student ticketswill 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 theInternational Expoon Thursday, February 26, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auctionbefore the performances.

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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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Denná Good-Mojab

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Feb 25, 2015 02:55 PM |
Meet Denná, who will be performing at CulturalFest this Saturday!

Denná Good-Mojab performed at CulturalFest for the first time last year and will join us again this Saturday! Read on to find about about what she'll be singing, and be sure to buy your tickets today.

I am an 18-year-old first-year graduate student in the School of Music at the University of Washington (UW). I am majoring in vocal performance. While I specialize in opera, I also enjoy singing pop music and Iranian world music. My YouTube channel has videos of some of my performances (

My interest in music—particularly singing and playing piano—began when I was very young. In 2007, at the age of 10, I debuted with the Portland Opera as the Second Spirit in Mozart's “The Magic Flute.” I have now performed in a total of 10 operas with professional and university opera companies, including the Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Pacific MusicWorks, and Opera Theater Oregon. I was just named a 2015 YoungArts Winner in Voice by the National YoungArts Foundation—for the second year in a row. In a few weeks, I’ll be participating in the National YoungArts Foundation’s 2015 YoungArts Los Angeles Regional Program. I was named a Grand Prize Winner in KING 98.1 FM's 2014 Young Artist Awards competition and have performed three times on NW Focus Live. My professional facebook page includes updates on my performances and other activities (

I had a wonderful time performing at the CulturalFest 2014 Performance Showcase and am very excited to be performing again this year. The Showcase offers an artistic window into some of the cultures that contribute to the diversity of the University of Washington community—as well as of the broader Seattle area.

The song I will be performing, “Sarzamine Man,” is quite multicultural with an underlying theme that transcends cultures. The Afghani singer and songwriter Amirjan Sabouri wrote the Farsi lyrics and set them to an old Armenian melody. I will be singing my rearrangement of a more classical version of the song that was arranged by Darya Dadvar, an Iranian-born soprano living in Paris. The song tells the story of a refugee who longs for a homeland torn by war and conflict. I want the audience to really hear the yearning that is expressed in the song’s melody and lyrics. I want the audience to really hear the song’s plaintive quality. And, I hope that this will help inspire audience members to do what is in their power to contribute to social justice and world peace.


CulturalFest Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online. Discounted student ticketswill 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 theInternational Expoon Thursday, February 26, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auctionbefore the performances.

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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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Natya

Posted by FIUTS Blogger at Feb 24, 2015 11:40 AM |
Filed under:
CulturalFest Performance Showcase is on this weekend! Learn about one of this year's talented performers, Natya.

The CulturalFest Performance Showcase is this weekend, featuring eleven performing artists who will share cultures from around the world on the Meany Hall stage. This year we're excited to welcome Natya to the lineup. Read on to learn more about them - and be sure to get your CulturalFest tickets online or in the FIUTS office!

How did your group begin? Tell a little bit of your story.

Natya is UW's premier Indian classical Dance team. It was initiated in 2009 by a few undergraduates who have been trained in Indian classical dance styles such as Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. Natya is commended for their energy and enthusiasm will performing; they have given over 50 performances that have ranged from talent competitions to cultural shows. As well, they organize their own showcase every year!

What do you hope the audience will take away from your performance?

Throughout the years, Natya’s mission has been to make Indian classical dance fun, exciting, and accessible to audience members by incorporating elements of the dance’s traditional styles as well as contemporary American culture and music.

We are extremely excited to be the opening act at this year's FIUTS Cultural Fest!

Learn more about Natya on their UW page and Facebook Page!


CulturalFest Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online. Discounted student ticketswill 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 theInternational Expoon Thursday, February 26, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auctionbefore the performances.

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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