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Hope for Children in Nepal

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 21, 2015 10:17 AM |
Anuja, a FIUTS SUSI program alumna, is working to help children in Nepal continue their education after the earthquake.

Anuja Khadka, who participated in the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media with FIUTS last summer, shared this blog post about her work to help children in Nepal continue their education in the aftermath of the earthquake. (You can read an earlier post from Anuja about her experience during and immediately following the earthquake here.)

“Didi! When will the soil stop moving?”- questioned a little girl.

It makes me blue because I have no answer of when the soil will stop moving and the debris will rise to be a building. Earthquake is such an unpredictable phenomena that neither the scientists nor the astrologers can stop it.  If one could do it, I would have answer to it.

Thousands of questions and answers are stuck inside the rubbles. The reply from the dead soul inside and the conversation of cries from the outside. The innocent flames in the eyes of all Nepalis and the gaze of little children depict the images of their fallen roofs and broken dreams. As hundreds of aftershocks hit Nepal, children feel the terror. The rescue and relief works have been done in my country but the venture to settle the traumatized little minds is yet to be done. They hear about their broken schools and undecided length of holidays. Afraid to see the broken buildings directly, they hide behind the shawl of their mothers to watch the devastation. Of the wishes children desire in their break, this must be their worse holidays ever. They are waiting for the school to notify them of re-opening and desperately needing the normal situation.

Not being able to bear all this, I and my husband decided to teach all the children inside the camp we were living and now have extended our work to other camps in my community. Believing ‘where there is a will, there is a way’, we have started the camp school. School without the proper carpet to sit and a broken tent to protect from the sun and the rain. The roof is 20% tent and 80% the jute sacks and bed cover. But, it’s precious. It’s precious for us and for children. Each time we enter the camp, I can feel the charm of the children that I have waited for long. So excited, so much of want for learning. At the narrow corner, we have our small classroom. Right over there we have the world of friendliness and little bud of hope.

Your small help can be a lot for these children. Your small help can make the flower bloom.

We are not any organization. We are just team of two. Strong enough.


Thank you, Anuja, for keeping your FIUTS family informed about your amazing work.

Anuja and her family have set up a bank account to receive donations to  help their efforts in the camp. If you are interested in contributing and are able to do so via bank transfer, here is the necessary information:

GLOBAL IME BANK LIMITED, Kuleswor, Kathmandu, Bagmati zone, Nepal

Account holder's name: Pravin Thapa Chhetri

Account no: 068010000226

Bank swift code: GLBBNPKA

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Hosts and Student Reunited

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 15, 2015 03:42 PM |
A student from Korea visited Seattle and reconnected with his former FIUTS host family!
Hosts and Student Reunited

Shi Ryoung Chang


Shi Ryoung Chang, a UW student and FIUTS participant in 2009, visited Seattle and his former hosts, Mary and Ken Ross, this past weekend. He was excited to relive the memory of his Edmonds home and family and to visit his old haunts on campus, in the U District, and downtown. He also spent time catching up with a few Korean friends and compatriots who are currently studying Library Science and Public Health at UW.



He feels fortunate to be able to connect with this chapter of his past. He let his host family know how significant the impact of his time here has been in his life. For him, the host family personifies everything positive about that experience. Today he analyzes international currency exchange rates for the Bank of Korea in Seoul. And now he has finally realized his dream of returning to Seattle during a few days of his brief annual vacation time. Even before getting on the plane home, he was plotting his next visit.

Left: Shi Ryoung's hosts Mary and Ken Ross

He is deeply grateful to FIUTS and salutes everyone who continues to make international hosting experiences possible.


Learn more about becoming a FIUTS short-term homestay host and apply to host a student this summer or fall! Homestays last 7-10 days and offer new international students the opportunity to create meaningful connections with members of the Seattl-area community.

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Indonesian Festival—Keraton 2015!

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 11, 2015 03:29 PM |
This quarter's student blogger, Andrea, enjoyed Indonesian culture without leaving Seattle.

Guest Post by Andrea Tamara, FIUTS Student Blogger

One of the countless perks of being an Indonesian and studying at University of Washington is the yearly Indonesian biggest event—Keraton!

Every year, Indonesian Student Association of University of Washington (or ISAUW) creates an event where everyone around Seattle can come and experience our culture from Indonesia. And for Indonesian students in Seattle, this is the perfect event for the homesick. On Saturday, May 2, the event has approximately reached 8,000 people—woah, now that’s what I call a crowd!

I volunteered as one of the photographers in the event. I remembered the atmosphere as I stepped in to the Red Square—the sun was heating up, everybody involved was running busy from one corner to another, I started to notice the smell of Indonesian food—Nasi Padang, Indomie, the scents that makes me feel like I’m home! I was pumped up right away, despite the fact that I have to work under the sun for the next 4 hours.

The event started and the music started to play. There were students coming from different colleges, singing the songs that are familiar to my ears. The tunes that made me want to sing along with my friends, the songs that reminded me of the memories back home—these are the moments that made me wish I was home at that second. I have always wished that Indonesia and Seattle was the same place, and this event somehow made it come true!

I met lots of my old friends. And by lots—I mean every-time-I-turn-there’s-someone-I-know lots. It was fun and frantic at the same time, a lot of laughter and a lot of running around (a lot of photos too), a lot of catching up with old friends, and it feels like 6 hours just flew by. Before I know it, the streaking heat from the sun has set. The heat that made me feel like I was back home slowly faded. It was somehow sad that it was over, because the feeling where I was truly belong felt like it has fade away too.

The event was so lively, and I almost wondered why. Was it the food? Was it the music? Was it the fact that I was frenzied with my volunteer work? I glared at the moment and I realized—it was the people after all, that made me feel like I’m back home.

There is something in the chatter of people, in their warmth and welcoming gestures that made my day. We always have this culture of gathering together and just catching up all day long, and I think that’s what made this ambience so familiar and gratifying. Completed with homemade food and heartening music—it couldn’t get any better than that. It was definitely one of the days I will remember in Seattle.

I have to admit that I’m still homesick, but I must say that I feel so much relieved after the event. The craving for Indonesian food has been filled and the longing of gathering with old pals has been eased. It was really fun and I will be looking forward for Keraton 2016!


Andrea Tamara is the FIUTS Spring Quarter student blogger. Click here to learn more about Andrea!

Interested in being a FIUTS student blogger? Contact Ellen Frierson at

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Building English Skills with Music Conversation Group

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 07, 2015 01:20 PM |
A fun opportunity for students to practice their language skills and share their favorite music.

Every week, FIUTS hosts three different conversation groups to give students a chance to practice their English in a fun and casual environment, and to talk about interesting topics with other students. One of these groups is Music Conversation Group, in which students have a chance to discuss their favorite music and learn about music from around the world. (You can also see a blog about this group here!)

You don't need to play an instrument or be a music "expert" to join the group! Just drop in any Wednesday from 4:30-6:00 (see the FIUTS event calendar for room locations in the HUB each week).

Steve Zitkovich, a longtime FIUTS volunteer, leads this group, and writes about why he created the group and what it's about:

The idea for the Music Conversation Group came from my own experience learning German and French: while establishing grammar basics through exercises is necessary, it is also important to practice "using" a language in spoken conversation to gain fluency and confidence.

Music is fun to talk about and creates strong feelings in people so I decided to make the conversation about the students' favorite music. Each week I suggest a theme like "Your favorite songs on a Friday night", the students tell the group what their favorite songs are, we listen to a little bit of the songs and I ask why they like this song or what it means to them.

I have learned so much about my students' cultures and I know many students have discovered new favorite artists through the conversations. It is a fun, relaxed environment for students to practice their spoken English.

Join Music Conversation Group to meet new people and discover new music! No need to sign up in advance for this group - just drop in any Wednesday, 4:30-6:00. Hope to see you there!

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Thank you, Alison

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 06, 2015 02:40 PM |
Filed under:
Students from around the world share messages for Alison as she leaves FIUTS after six years.
Thank you, Alison

Alison with Seattle Summer English Program participants, July 2012

It's so hard to believe that today is Alison Kilkenny's last day at FIUTS! Alison joined FIUTS in July 2009 as the Homestay & Community Relations Coordinator, and then became the Manager of Education Programs in 2011. In that role, she's done amazing work managing our visiting programs: The Youth Leadership Programs with Bosnia and Herzegovina and with Azerbaijan, the Seattle Summer English Program, and the Study of the U.S. Institute. Not to mention all of her work with UW students, including supervising the CulturalFest Booth Committee to plan the International Expo each year.

And so much more - Alison is an incredible leader and colleague, and has contributed so many things to FIUTS over the last six years that it would be impossible to list all of her accomplishments here. Instead, we asked some of the students she's worked with to send their thoughts and well wishes as she moves on to a new position at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Here are the (many) messages they had to share:

"Alison, you are such a wonderful person and a big inspiration to me. You have made my days in the US memorable and I know how much you contributed to FIUTS and Youth Leadership Program. I am sure you will continue doing great work at Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and I hope one day I can pursue my dreams like you are! Best of luck!" - Amina Maslo (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, I just want to thank you for being so nice and caring at our stay in the USA. I wish you all the best on your new job and I hope you remember all our great times together because I certainly will!" - Iva (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"I've seen many leaders as well as managers in my life. From all of them I can place you somewhere in the top 5! All the best Alison! සුබ පැතුම්!" - Haritha (SUSI Sri Lanka)

"I still remember when I first saw her the look in her eyes was Why did I take this job they [YLP:2014Fall] all are like a barrel of monkeys let free" then I then I realized she wears contact lenses. Now In all sincerity she seemed always like a person that wants to change the world and I'm happy that her new job allows her that." - Pavle (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"The happy face of the YLP experience. Thank you for your kindness and understanding. Best of luck." -Ismar (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"I got a chance to spend 3 weeks with Alison, though 2 years have passed since I first met her, I still remember her warmth, kindness, nicest eyes and friendly voice! I even remember how she went to buy marshmallows for my morning activity when I forgot to bring. She is absolutely one of the nicest persons I've met in USA! And I'm sure she has done a lot for FIUTS as well! Hugs from Azerbaijan!" - Samira (YLP with Azerbaijan)

"Dear Alison, thank you for making my stay in America nicer and better. I'm sorry you won't be part of FIUTS anymore, but I know you'll keep making people smile wherever you go!" - Teodora (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Some of the YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina participants also made videos!

"Hi Alison, I'm really grateful that I was given an opportunity not only to learn at SUSI but to meet people like you. Keep spreading the love, warmth and positivity that your heart holds, wherever you go. Hugs and love." -Kritika (SUSI Nepal)

"I remember the first time I saw you; it was at the hotel in Sarajevo, you came out of your room and I saw a beautiful woman and thought: she has something special on her. YLP wouldn't be the same without you, and I'm so thankful that I met you. Keep a smile on your face and I'm sure you will succeed wherever you go!" -Erna (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Thank you Alison for always having a smile on your face and making us understand that we matter to you guys." -David (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Thank you for being a good listener and even better friend. Wish you all the best!!" - Una Belko (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Hi Alison, I don't know if I will ever make it to FIUTS and UW again but if I can make it one day and won't see you at FIUTS, it will break my heart and will feel so incomplete. I envy you and your guidance while I was in U.S.. Thanking you from the bottom of my heart and wish you all the best for your coming days." - Anuja (SUSI Nepal)

"Alison, you are a beautiful person and I am more than glad to have met you. Thank you for all the love that you poured onto us. It really meant a lot. P.S. Much glory to you." - Mitali (SUSI India)

"Stay as SUSI in US would be incomplete without you. Your first announcement to that Last Packet of Tissue Paper which you gave in the airport when I was crying...everything is in my deep memory. Dear Alison, you are beautiful human being, beautiful inside-out! I just wish I could see you somewhere under this sky again. I Miss you! And, I wish you all the wishes for your new journey at work. Love!!!" - Kripa (SUSI Nepal)

"If anyone was great at what she does, it was Alison. An amazing human being and hard-worker- that is our Alison. I wish her all the best in future career and life. Lots of love."  - Tamara Žepinić (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, thank you for making my stay in the US fun and exciting. I wish you the best with your future work!" -Zorana (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, your karma, aura, optimism, smile and persona is something that is worth a lot and what has motivated many young people to do something good in their lives and community. Stay always so happy and positive because you make the world a better place. Do not be sad for leaving FIUTS, be happy because it happened..."- Alem (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, I am so happy that I met you. You are such a great person. Good luck with your new job!" -Ljiljana (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, I wish you all the best in your new job and in your future career. Thank you for everything.Our stay in Seattle wouldn't be so perfect without you." -Igor (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Whether our students from Bosnia and Herzegovina were pursuing their various assignments in Seattle or just walking the streets of Washington D.C., Alison was always there, helping them with their projects, answering their curiosity or simply chatting with them, all that accompanied with her warm smile. As a teacher, I realized how much effort and energy she put in all that, but above all love for us all. Thank you for everything you did for us, Alison and I know you will do great at your new job." -Branka Babic (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, You radiate happiness. I’m so glad to have met you. Thanks for making the 5 weeks I spent in the US so amazing. Good luck for your new adventure! Shine on. Lots of love." -Simran (SUSI India)

Dear Alison, My Seattle days are the most beautiful travel memories I have. You made my days in Seattle even more beautiful! Thank you for that and I wish you everything best in your life and career." -Sladjana (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, I admire you for many things, but for having these two always with you I admire you even more - your optimism and your smile." -Amina (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)


"Dear Alison, i just want to tell you that you are a beautiful person. Your words always inspire me and I'm really thankful for everything that you have done for us. Good luck with your new job." -Vanja Barac (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, Firstly, I would like to thank you for all the help and support you have so unselfishly shown to me and everyone else from my group, especially when we needed it the most. You were always on top of situation, always playing a role of ' good cop ' while Tom was ' bad cop ' of course. I really liked your approach to each and every single one of us during our not so short stay in the States. I also find your respect for others and their opinions very admirable. I know you will be missed in FIUTS, as well as in all YLP groups. Best of luck!" -Irfan (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Your encouraging smile and your tolerance have made our time in America Thank you for everything! I will always remember your eyes, the bluest eyes I have ever seen :))) Keep doing great things!" -Bojana (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, remember when we were in Olympia for the Governor Ball and Ajla, Aldina, you and me were driving across the parking lot singing Icona Pop's song " I love it" ? That's one of my favourite memories so thank you for that. I wish you all the best and hope to see you again someday!" -Sara (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, you are an amazing young lady, you helped me a lot to improve my understanding of leadership and to deal with some problems in my society. I am glad that you got so attractive and interesting job, I wish you all the best!" -Hena (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, I had a great time working with you in Booth committee! I will definitely miss & think of you next year when I am in the committee again! Best luck for the journey ahead of you, and it has been incredible to be friends with you!" -Fleur, UW student (China)

"Oh Alison! You were my first contact at FIUTS. From Homestay to our last visit to a school. It's been a pleasure to have met you, celebrate birthdays and laugh! Keep doing the great job you've been doing it! I will certainly miss you...especially now that I am in my 30's." -Michel, UW student (Chile)

"Congratulations on your new job Alison! Wish you a lot of success and hope that it would be as awesome as working for FIUTS or even better ( we know that it's hard to be, but who knows). I am sure that FIUTS will miss you." - Andjela Cickovic (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Thanks for everything that we experienced with you in Seattle and I hope that the new job will bring you more fun and experience that this one. Remember that this is not your end, it's just a new begining! Hugs and kisses." -Una Dangubic (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, I wish you all the best at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and I know you will 'move mountains' there as well!" - Sabina (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison, you're wonderful person and I'm so happy because you were part of my YLP experience. All the best on your new work-place, we love you!" - Hana (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Thank you so much for being nice and tolerant organizator for us, YLP spring 2014 team! I will always remember you for good knowledge and skills you learned us. It was always a lot of fun with you, and it's nice to know a person like you! I hope that you will like your new job and I wish you everything the best, Alison!" - Malika (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Hello Alison! SUSI was a great part of my life and you were one of its integral part. Your ever smiling face makes everyone around you smile and be happy too. Your energy is electrifying and your gentle and curious attitude is very welcoming for memorable conversations. I love how meticulously you work and have learnt quite a few things from you about that. Also, will never forget the way you say 'okay'! Haha. All the best with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and all other future endeavors of yours. Much love!" -Medha (SUSI India)

"Congratulations for your new job! I wish you the best and I hope you will have fun at your new job, just like you had before. We are all going to miss you and for us you are always going to stay a part of the FIUTS family!" -Rastko (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Hi Alison! Thank you for being so supportive to all the YLPs, answering all our questions and helping make Seattle feel like home. All future students who will be working with FIUTS will have missed an opportunity to have such a lovely person in their lives!" -Lana Krilic (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"For Alison, I just wanted to tell her, that she was an amazing support during our time in Seattle as an exchange students and that she is a person who helped me to go through difficulties that I had in my project. I think her hard work paid off and congratulate on her new job!" -Lana Kurtagić (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"I had the privilege of working with you to prepare for CulturalFest, and I'm so grateful to have had your patient and kind guidance! You're one of the sweetest people I've met in FIUTS, and I'm really sad to see you go. At the same time, I'm still very happy for you that you're moving on to do something else that's really cool too! You've left behind a legacy here, and we'll always remember you :) I hope we stay in touch! Truckloads of love." -Abby (UW student, Singapore)


Hi Alison! Thank you for your great work at FIUTS. Your ambitious personality and hard work gave us an amazing experience in YLP with Azerbaijan and lead to a further development of our leadership skills.We cherish those precious moments. Congratulations and good luck on your new job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. -Ibrahim (YLP with Azerbaijan)

Hi Alison Thanks for being a good friend and good luck in your new job. We love you. -Edina (Teacher, YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

It was wonderful working with you, Alison. Best of luck on your new adventure! -Elena (former FIUTS staff)

"Well, I would like to say goodbye, thanks for her kindness and I appreciate back when she was there for me during my emotional crisis... Well, I wish her to stay strong, tolerant and positive, no matter what happens. And yeah, it was an honour working with her." -Said (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Dear Alison, you are a wonderful person, and I'm very proud of you. Thank you for supporting me and being a good friend. Best of luck." -Ena (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Alison love youu.. my lady of Seattle.. very good luck for your next destination. Feel sorry for next SUSI participants who will going to miss your warm take care Keep smiling as usual always are... " -Afia (SUSI Bangladesh)

"Dear Alison, thanks for everything you've done for us, you've been first FIUTS member that I've met, and for me you will always be part of this team. Thanks for everything one more time, and take care" -Maja (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"Thank you for making our lives a little bit better by giving us the pleasure of knowing you, I hope that you will keep sharing your positive energy and inspiring ideas with all the new people that you meet and spend time with. Good luck on your new job" -Emina (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

"I'm really happy that you were in my life, you're the kindest person I've ever met and I'm really thankful for everything that you and everyone from FIUTS did for us. I hope you'll be happy at your new job and hope to maybe see you again sometime in the future." -Adna (YLP with Bosnia and Herzegovina)

As you can see from these messages, Alison has made a huge difference in the lives of students from all over the world. Everyone who has worked with her is so grateful for everything she contributed to FIUTS, and we all wish her the best in her future career. Thank you, Alison! -Your FIUTS Family

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Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity)

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 04, 2015 11:40 AM |
Insights from this quarter's student blogger on what being Indonesian means to her.

By Andrea Tamara, FIUTS Student Blogger

At most times, people mistook me as either Chinese or Japanese. That’s not entirely wrong. I was originally born in Indonesia, however I came from Chinese descendants. That explains why I looked like I came from China with Chinese-like face. On the other side, some people mistook me as Japanese because of my last name—Tamara (yep, that sounds Japanese). I had to explain to them that my original last name was actually taken out by the government because I was born in a period where Indonesian-Born-Chinese girls couldn’t bring the family’s name. It was historical, and sometimes hard to understand, but for sure I’m not Japanese.

I remembered there was this one time when a person asked me where I came from. When I said I came from Indonesia, he said, “Where’s that? Is that a mix or something?”

I thought to myself, is Indonesia that insignificant? Is it forgotten? But then, what makes a person the real Indonesian anyway?

I realized that even myself—who have been living in Indonesia for 17 years—still couldn’t find the difference whether a person is Indonesian or not. I tried to figure out what’s exactly the problem to this—like why can’t I categorize “Indonesian” in a box in my head where I can classify the things real Indonesians do?

Then it hit me. It wasn't a problem at all.

Indonesia has 33 provinces with hundreds (and hundreds) of different dialects. We are entirely diverse that we can’t really put ourselves inside “a box.” We have smaller sets of cultures in our islands that make us different from one another. It reminds me of Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,” which literally means unity in diversity. Our appearances might not be the same, we may have variation of skin colors, but we still have one language, and that’s Bahasa Indonesia. We might be separated in islands, but our entirely diverse country was so distinct from world that we stand together as one. Our language unites us, and our differences make us one. Interesting paradox isn’t it?

I’m proud to be Indonesian. I am not ashamed that someone might not know where that is, because it will be my chance to show the beauty of my home country. I want to let them know who Indonesians really are. To eat steamed rice with our hands, to say the word “galau” in any occasion, to always (and always) love Martabak—but most of all, to speak Bahasa Indonesia. I love all the little perks that we do. It might be slightly annoying sometimes—but that’s what makes us the people who we are.

Andrea Tamara is the FIUTS Spring Quarter student blogger. Click here to learn more about Andrea!

Interested in being a FIUTS student blogger? Contact Ellen Frierson at

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Facilitator Corner: Lucy Deng

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 01, 2015 04:30 PM |
Read about the experiences of one of our amazing volunteer student leaders!

FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over theworldwho 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 Lucy!

Name: Lucy (Xijia) Deng
Country: China
Major: Pre-Civil Engineering
Class: Freshman
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2014

Brief Introduction

Most people know me as Lucy Deng, which has been my English name for over 10 years. I grew up in Guilin, a small but famous resort city in China. The greatest thing that I value is the gratitude to life and people around me. So in my free time, I love writing poems and photography and I blog. Art also plays a big part of my life. I like to do Chinese Calligraphy if I am seeking tranquility. I like to doodle if I am just bored. I like to play the piano if I get a bit stressed out. My favorite thing to do with friends is trying out different dining options (Yes, I am a big foodie). To be honest, I am not big in sports. But I do enjoy swimming, playing badminton and biking. By the way, every friend of mine knows my favorite fruit: watermelon (it is a part of my life).

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

I am a facilitator mostly because my personal passion and motivation. I came to United Stated two years ago. Every time when I look back to my high school experience as an international student, I always feel regretful that I couldn’t finish what I started. There were small group of Chinese students staying in their own circle and speaking Chinese all the time. It wasn’t something that we pursued at the beginning and I know a lot of them want to change the situation. After getting close to some American friends, I started to get invitations to different events. And I tried a lot of things other than studying. Mock Trial, Math team, Bollywood night, etc. I was very involved. But I didn’t just ignore all my Chinese friends. Unfortunately, nobody else would stand out with me. I felt helpless. On the one hand, I want to help them. On the other hand, I feel they looked at me strangely like an outsider. I wasn’t ashamed of being outgoing with American students. But I was in some degree left out by people from my own country.

It is when I thought about all my other Chinese friends who were sill struggling with adapting to American culture. So in my senior year in high school, I decided to establish an organization to help them after my success. We created an International Student Mentorship program in which helps new incoming international student to succeed in both academic and extracurricular activities. And I tried my best to connect them to other American students. In the end, I graduated but the problem hadn’t been solved. So in my mind, I always have this goal of helping other students.

Coming to UW, I attended the International Student Orientation last fall. I didn’t find myself a stranger to Seattle. Through all the events, such as Seattle Challenge, Camping, Insider Tour and Boat Cruise, I became familiar to Seattle within a week. It is incredible that FIUTS provided such detailed and beneficial information folder with events timeline and resources. Besides, I made some life-long friends from all around the world. This experience really amazed me and FIUTS amazed me. I decided to join as FIUTS facilitator right after the school started, to continue my personal task as helping other international students adapt to life in Seattle. Moreover, in the FIUTS family, I learnt so much about cultural differences and improved my international awareness.

Talking about the role as a facilitator, I see myself trying to build a better international community within the University of Washington. I hope to bring my communication and corporation skills as a leader. I have the benefit of collecting different resources from other powerful leaders on campus. For me, I want to perfect my self-worth. For the community, I want to perfect the perspective of being a big “family”. I hope to become a successful facilitator that has strong ability to lead others and make everyone in the world closer to each other. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. It is my responsibility to link individuals together to bring unity with diversity.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

My favorite thing about facilitating a FIUTS event is that you actually get to know each individual beyond the surface and bond with them. FIUTS events always have a casual setting so that I get to interact with everyone and hear their story. There are friends who are new to United States and are having language barrier. I felt more compulsive to talk to them because I understand them from my personal experience. Hearing their stories just fascinates me and intrigues me to hear even more. I learnt so much from them. My perspective of the world has been changed. The smiling faces and the laughter during the events are the greatest encouragement for me, and I am grateful of bringing happiness.

Tips for peer facilitators

When facilitating an event, we should definitely include everyone and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. And with the privilege to take on this role, having access to many more resources, facilitators should connect and bond with individuals in the community during the event and more importantly after the event. We should always support and include our friends within the FIUTS community and don’t forget to send them invitations to different events on campus since they might not be familiar with what are happening in school.

Being a facilitator is meaningful and grateful. So why not smile and be excited for every event?

Donate to FIUTS programs that train and support students like Lucy during GiveBIG on May 5! Click here to give.

Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here.

More Facilitator Corner posts:

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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War with Nature

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Apr 28, 2015 09:05 PM |
Filed under: ,
Anuja Khadka describes her experience in Kathmandu, Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake.
War with Nature

Anuja in Seattle with the SUSI program last summer

Anuja Khadka, from Nepal, was a participant in the 2014 FIUTS Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media. Along with millions of others, Anuja has been affected by the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal. She sent us this post with photos of the camp she is staying in to share the current conditions that she and her neighbors are facing in Kathmandu. We strongly encourage donations to organizations that are providing direct relief to earthquake victims - please see the end of this post for suggestions.

Guest Post by Anuja Khadka

It was nearly 12 noon when I felt the tremor. My bed was shaking scarily. I controlled my feet keeping in my mind that I shouldn't panic. I thought I was trapped and walls were broken outside. With some courage I ran out of the house. I could hear people screaming, dogs barking, birds flying all over and electricity poles moving. It existed for like 5-10 seconds. Gosh! It was a huge relief.

All my neighbours and me could do was to rush over to the open places. Kathmandu is so crowdy and houses are unplanned that we don't have open spaces to protect us at times of earthquake. 7.8 Richter scale is devastating of which we became victim.

We, around 70 people have been sharing safe roof of tent since 25th of April till today. Other people are spending nights on roads. We don't have a proper camp where we can protect ourselves from bad climate and heavy rainfall. First night outside home was really scary. Aftershocks were continuously terrifying us. Elderly people were brought to our camp. Some with broken legs, some with oxygen, children who are ill, crying of the tremor and adults panicking. Aftershocks are breaking our hearts and covering our minds with deep tension. Why wouldn't it when we are frequently being hit by aftershocks. Dozens in a day....

We have little space which is not completely away from buildings. People have fear that buildings can break down any time and earth can crack anytime. We are spending days and nights in chaos. I am trying to control the situation with my family, calm down my neighbours and take care of children and pets. I'm well aware about the cleanliness of the surrounding and diseases that can harm all of us.

The conditions in the camp became worse when heavy rains began to fall in the days after the earthquake.

We all are facing hard times to cook food and find clean water. It's tough since we don't have adequate lantrines. We don't have electricity and proper phone networks. It's a huge lesson that no money is going to overcome the natural disaster... No rich and no poor... No diamonds and no home is safe but I cannot get in because I'm afraid of aftershocks. So is the other sides story of many Nepalese whose houses are safe. The tale of the ones who have lost everything is tough to be expressed.

Situation in my country Nepal is worse. People are dying and they are starving for food, water and fuel. Thousands of people are no more and lot more injured. We have lost our important heritages those hold history and attachment with us.

We have no other instant options for news than radio and internet. All of us are sharing radio to listen to news and spend our nights. I convey messages to my people using 3G service but its hard to trust news on internet since most of them are just rumours and have gone wrong.
I personally feel like Nepal is going through huge war. I can see numbers of airplanes of international help forces over our sky. I keep staring at them and thank them for coming to our country to help us. Our families abroad are so worried that they have been giving us a call. So terrified to hear news of death of relatives of my friends, broken schools and homes of my near ones and devastated villages.

In one day 71000 people from Kathmandu left the city to their home places. It's not only that capital is facing this terror, it's whole Nepal that's crying.

I know more predicaments are coming and it's a huge challenge for us. People are suffering from swine flu and other diseases. Thousands have lost their lives, their family and friends. The only roof for thousands of Nepalese is one and only sky. Precious lives already taken and death tolls rising. People continue to cry for help but to avail. I know Nepal is a beautiful country blessed by nature but nature cannot always be on our side.

For now suns and stars are our hopes because dark clouds are covering Nepal's sky. Yesterday I saw stars in night sky from the little hole of our tent and today a sun in the morning. As I saw them, I have a hope. We all have a little hope to survive.  Words are not enough to explain our rush and emergency. While write this to you, I'm inside the camp. Thank you, the whole world, for keeping us in your thoughts and praying for us.

All photos by Anuja Khadka. To help the relief efforts in Nepal, Anuja has recommended UNICEF and Red Cross Society Nepal. In particular, Anuja and her family have also been working directly with a local organization called Fresh Nepal, which she strongly recommends. Donations to Fresh Nepal can be made here (via bank transfer in Euros).

Anuja asks that if you are able to donate to Fresh Nepal to send her an email at to let her know how much you have donated so that she can help to record donations and make sure that all funds reach victims directly.

Additionally, the University of Washington Nepalese Student Association has set up an emergency relief fund to provide resources directly to a local organization in the highly impacted areas of Ghoka.

If members of the FIUTS community have other suggestions for reliable places to donate, please email Ellen Frierson so that we can pass this information on to others.

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"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Apr 21, 2015 11:55 AM |
An inspiring project led by Youth Leadership Program alumni promotes teamwork and friendship in Bosnia.

Later this week, FIUTS staff members will head to Bosnia and Herzegovina to visit with alumni of the Youth Leadership Program. We're looking forward to an amazing reunion with over over 100 participants, as well as a chance to see some of the incredible community service projects that participants have planned and implemented using the skills they learned during their time in Seattle.

Here's a blog post from the Spring 2014 team from Jajce about their successful project to bring students in their community from different backgrounds together for a day of friendly competition and teamwork!

By Erna Mecavica, FIUTS Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina Participant, Spring 2014

It's been a year since we went from a small city in Bosnia, Jajce, to one of the most beautiful places we've ever been, to Seattle, where our dreams came true, where we learned how to be  leaders and what it means to be a leader, how to help our community, and where we learned who we are and what we can do, what our biggest strengths are and also our biggest weaknesses.

After a month, we were full of experiences and new ideas about what we can do to help Jajce. We wanted to change something, to take our biggest problem and make something good about it. So, we decided to make a project which will show our children, who are divided in two nationalities and who go to two schools under one roof, that being different, having a different nationality and belonging to an other religion, is not something bad; it is something that we all should be proud of. We wanted to show them that they can play together, have fun, make new friendships, and that they are all same, human beings.

Members of the YLP group, L-R: Said Salihefendić, Erna Mecavica, Hana Alkić, Anamarija Barić, and Josip Jelica

So we made a sport competition for seniors of two primary schools. 85 of them played basketball, football, volleyball, handball and athletics. Our goal was not the winning part, but that the children have fun together and learn from each other.

Everything was better than we expected. They made new friendships, learned that being different is something beautiful and that they can do amazing things only if they work together. We made certificates for all participants and trophies for the winners. We also had seven amazing volunteers who helped us a lot to make our dream come true.

At the end of the day, exhausted but happy, we closed the project with final words for the participants about the goal of the project and our wishes to them to always have a lot and different friendships which will last forever. It was not just a project for us, it was more than that! It was our dream that came true, and we are so thankful for everyone and everything who helped us to change something and to be proud about the fact that WE change it, that WE made something good for others.

We are thankful for being YLP Alumni, and all people who taught us everything we need to know about leadership, changing and solving problems, especially the US Embassy in Sarajevo, State Department and FIUTS! We are also very thankful for everyone in Jajce who helped us and gave us their support, especially our volunteers of whom we are really proud.

At the end of the day we realized that, it is maybe the end of one project, but it is the beginning of something great, of something that will change our community, because every end is a new beginning.


Students Josip Jelica, Hana Alkić, Erna Mecavica, Anamarija Barić, and teacher Branka Babić


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

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

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Facilitator Corner: Nhung Le

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Apr 20, 2015 01:25 PM |
Read about the experiences of one of our amazing volunteer student leaders!

FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over theworldwho 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 Nhung!

Name: Nhung Le
Country: Vietnam
Major: Biology
Class: Junior
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Winter 2015


My name is Nhung and I’ve been living in Seattle for 4 years.  I love the city for its RAIN! which most Seattleites find depressing!  Coming from a hot and humid place like Vietnam, I personally find this amazing city resonate extremely well with me.  I love volunteering and helping those in need. I mostly volunteer at Buddhist temples at a very young age; I love the rich and deep philosophy.  Besides volunteering, I love to hike and camp in the serene nature.  I also enjoy meddling in the kitchen, especially with Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisines.

As you can see, I come from a foreign county that uses English as a second language, so I can’t prevent the English barriers when I communicate with the native speakers. I had a hard time adapting to the new environment in Seattle. At first, I found it was so depressing to live far away from my parents, and having to use an entirely new language to communicate with other people. Sometimes people didn't seem to catch what I was trying to say. As time flies, I came to apply the important life lesson that sharing is receiving.  I met a diverse group of friends and shared my stories. We came to strengthen our friendships and became closer as I listened to their journey as well.  Never give up, keep continuing standing on your feet! I enhance my life skills, meet more wonderful friends from other countries and have the honor to learn their cultures.

Nhung, center, with FIUTS friends

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

I cherish the opportunities FIUTS has given me. I enjoy learning new skills and experiencing new things and FIUTS has blessed me with the opportunities for both. Here, I have further developed my leadership as facilitator. I get to go to events I have never been through, all of which were eye-opening. I further learned to better organize, to time manage effectively, when in need to compromise for group events and work in a team cohesively to produce a great outcomes.  I love being a facilitator, for I may apply my overall experience for a job and work in the near future.  So I will make every effort and continue to strive for the best. This is the golden opportunity FIUTS blessed me with!

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

I have joined FIUTS for one quarter. In this time, there are two events that I find most treasurable.  The first is participating in an event learning about the history of wine making in Seattle! It was a privilege and a joy to facilitate such vibrant group.  YAY!  The second and perhaps my favorite event up to date is being among facilitators for CulturalFest.  Witnessing the diverse arrays of ethnic performances was what made this experience so unique that it is unforgettable! From Irish Tap Dancing to contemporary breakdance and much much more, fantastic performances opened my worldview to a greater understanding.  Thank You FIUTS!

Nhung, right, at the CulturalFest ticket booth

Tips for peer facilitators

My advice is be yourself, and don't be panic! There's plenty of leadership experience that awaits. Everyone has gone through what you've been through. When I first joined FIUTS I was anxious and knew only one person. The situation can feel overwhelming at first, but as I'm sure with most new events when one must face the "fish out of water" experience every now and then. I continue to attend more events and get to know more people and expand my connections. This is just the starting point so hold tight because it will get more epic! Stay positive and smile and be sure to connect with friendly facilitators that resonate with you. Everything will be alright!


Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here!

More Facilitator Corner posts:

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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