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Welcome Louise

Posted by FIUTS Community at Aug 20, 2014 10:30 AM |
Meet newest member of our staff, Louise Iuel! Louise is visiting for 3-months before beginning her MA. in Intercultural Studies & Communication next August in Denmark. Here is a brief introduction from Louise:

Louise Iuel joined FIUTS this month as our newest intern, and we're so glad to welcome her to Seattle, and our office! Here's Louise, introducing herself to the FIUTS community:

Name: Louise Iuel

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

Year:  I’m not in school right now. I’m doing a short 3-month independent training program with FIUTS as a part of a couple of gap years that I have spent getting some professional experience.

What’s Next: I will start my MA. in intercultural studies & communication next August in Denmark.

I’m a trainee from Denmark, who has come to FIUTS to expand my knowledge on intercultural communication and educational programing, while living a yearlong dream of staying in the US for an extended period of time. I got my BA in English & Communication in 2012 and have spent the last couple of years working for DIS – “Danish Institute for Study Abroad”, a non-profit study abroad institution based in Copenhagen, who caters to students from American Colleges. This experience has only made me more passionate about cultural exchange and increased my wish to come visit some of the American friends that I have made over the years.

I am very fortunate to get to live and breathe more cultural exchange this fall, as I am experiencing making a cultural transition firsthand. With FIUTS I will primarily be working on planning and executing the International Student Orientation. I am very excited to get to meet many different people from different cultures at FIUTS events and hear about their cultural exchange experience and share mine.

When I won’t be working I will hang out with my host family and explore the many different things Seattle has to offer; cuisine, beverages, nightlife, local spots & neighborhoods, music, green areas & nature are some of my key interests. Every day is a new adventure, but from time to time I am also very content curling up in a small nook with a book and a cup of coffee. Luckily for me Seattle has excellent coffee and it is much cheaper than I am used to. I think that I will be quite happy here for the next couple of months.

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Interning with FIUTS

Posted by FIUTS Community at Aug 15, 2014 10:45 AM |
Over the past six-weeks Momoko Iwata (originally from Japan) has volunteered as an intern here at FIUTS, providing assistance to the staff on numerous projects and events. Today she has written a few words about her experience with her main responsibility, overseeing FIUTS Fridays.

Over the past six-weeks Momoko Iwata (originally from Japan) has volunteered as an intern here at FIUTS, providing assistance to the staff on numerous projects and events. Today she has written a few words about her experience overseeing FIUTS Fridays.

I have led six FIUTS Fridays so far, and enjoyed every single one! What is wonderful about FIUTS Friday is that it gives us the opportunity to meet new people and interact with them. Usually, we take some time to introduce ourselves and to do some ice breakers before we leave the Burke Museum Café, which is the meet up location. This allows us enjoy the event together more.

It is very hard to choose the favorite FIUTS Friday from this summer, but I especially liked our visit to the Bite of Seattle. I had a great time eating delicious food seeing the Space Needle with the participants. Seafair Summer Fourth at Gas Works Park was very special, too. It was my first FIUTS Friday, and other facilitators gave me many tips!

Momoko (Front Row, White Shirt) and a group of FIUTS participants and the Bite of Seattle FIUTS Friday

The challenge of leading FIUTS Friday is to take many participants to the venue using public transportation. However, this is the important feature of FIUTS Friday and makes it different than other events. I am sure that everyone gets to know each other more through this process. We can chat even while we are waiting for the bus!

I am grateful for this opportunity, and very excited for the upcoming FIUTS Fridays. It is very casual and no sign up is necessary. So please join us for the rest of the events! :)

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If you are interested in an internship with FIUTS, please take a moment to look at our employment page for more information.

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Coping with Pre-Departure Fears

Posted by FIUTS Community at Aug 14, 2014 10:30 AM |
Join Ping-Ping Narenpitak, an incoming graduate student in the department of Atmospheric Sciences from Bangkok, examines her apprehensions preparing to depart for Seattle and the University of Washington.

Guest post by Pornampai (Ping-Ping) Narenpitak, 1st-year Atmospheric Sciences graduate student from Bangkok.

There is only a month left until I move to Seattle. This will be my fifth year living abroad. I have lived in Connecticut for one year and spent another three years in Wisconsin for undergraduate school. Despite that, I still feel nervous thinking about this life transition. I am nervous to be in a big city where I rarely know anyone and I am slightly afraid to face the unknowns. However, as I think about my past experiences, moving to a new place is actually not as bad. It can be exciting and fun if it is well prepared.

So how do I prepare for moving?

One thing I am nervous about is surviving in a big city. Direction is one of my weaknesses and I’ve always got lost even in a small city I lived in. Knowing that, I have spent quite a few times studying the map of Seattle. I used Google map to view the streets and familiarize myself with the campus area as well as the surrounding neighborhood. I plan to get a paper map of the city once I arrive Seattle as well. To get around with public transportation, I am going to download a bus-tracking application and use it on my smartphone. Doing these makes me feel more confident in getting around and exploring the city.

Another challenge I usually faced is homesickness. I felt homesick every time I left home and went back to school. However, good news is that the level of my homesickness has decreased over the years as I made more friends. I found out that staying in my own little room and thinking about home will only make things worse. So yes… making friends is the way to go! As much as I want to keep in touch with family and friends back home, having good friends in America is highly important to me because they can make a foreign place feel like home. But before reaching that goal, we have to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to know other people first. We have to be ready to be stretched and open-minded for different cultures.

Photo of the Seattle skyline taken by Ping-Ping on a visit in March

How about packing?

After dealing with these fears that may hinder me from wanting to move to Seattle, it’s time for packing. I threw everything into my suitcases and then realized they became overweight! I would have to unpack my stuff and re-pack them. Sigh.

To prevent that, I made a list of what to bring and what not to. Here are examples of what I think is important or useful to have in-hands once I arrive America. (By the way, anything too heavy or can be found easily in Seattle will be crossed out from my to-bring list, just to not overpack. The list may also vary from to person.)

(1) Passport, I-20 or DS-2019, and other important traveling documents. I would scan them and ask my parents to keep the electronic copies at home.

(2) Umbrella or rain jacket. Seattle is known as a raining city. Although it’s more sunny than rainy in the summer, I would still bring one just in case.

(3) Medicine if needed.

(4) Clothes—bring enough for early autumn.

(5) Souvenirs—There will be many activities and opportunities to be involved with the local. Some of those are activities provided by FIUTS. It is always nice to prepare something for people who kindly help us adjust to a new place. One way to show our appreciation is giving them souvenirs from our home countries.

Finally, it’s time to pack! I would also keep some clothes at the top of my luggage or in a separate bag so I can take them out easily during the first week of orientation.

In short

Moving to a different country is a big life transition. Dealing with fears that may arise from this is not easy, but it is a good way to grow. It may sound difficult at first, but the feeling after overcoming the challenges is so good. Therefore, instead of thinking about my fears, I think about the positive sides and what I look forward to in Seattle. I try to plan ahead of time so I will be less nervous. When the time comes, I can be excited and ready for a new chapter of life!

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Facilitator Corner: Minhtu Nguyen

Read about the experiences of one of our amazing volunteer student leaders!
Facilitator Corner: Minhtu Nguyen

Mihntu, left, with two other FIUTS facilitators

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

Name: Minhtu Nguyen
Country: Vietnam           
Major: Biology
Class: Senior
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2013

Three words that define my UW college life: pre-med, dance, and FIUTS.

I am a transfer pre-med student majoring in biology. Each division in biology fascinates me but I am most passionate in human physiology. Sometimes while eating a Chipotle bowl, the thought of how each nutrient in the bowl is being digested, absorbed, used, and stored in my body delights me. Yeah! Some of my friends call me a nerd.

Beside my focus on biology, I am also minoring in dance. I believe that dancing is a very effective non-verbal communication and each dance opens you to a whole new culture. I enjoy doing social and cultural dances such as African dance, tango, salsa, historic European dances, bomba, etc. I am the vice president of the UW Tango club. My goal is to introduce many of my friends to dancing because it is truly amazing!

I started to join FIUTS as a booth planning committee member for CulturalFest 2013 during my first quarter at UW and it was a very rewarding experience. I gradually learn more about FIUTS mission and take on more challenges as a facilitator and student board member. Through FIUTS, I have met so many good friends from all over the world. I believe that FIUTS have been providing me with invaluable multicultural experience for my future career as a physician.

FIUTS graduation ceremony (2013)

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

Transition between two cultures might be very difficult. Every person has his or her own strategy to overcome this hard time. As a pretty shy and quite girl, I chose to spent most of the time during the first two year in the US being in the library and sticking my nose on books with hope that I can improve my English as fast as possible and thrive in new education environment. Now I realize that it wasn’t a smart choice. My college experience completely changed after I took the initiation to take on a leadership position at the FIUTS CulturalFest. I received lots of help from the staff and peers. I have grown so much since then.

For me, being a FIUTS facilitator and student board member is a chance to improve myself and also to give back to the community. I want to help new international students to adapt quickly to new environment by introducing them to new resources, activities, places, friends, and communities because UW and Seattle have so many exciting things to offer. I always share my story to encourage new students to be more active and engaging because extracurricular activities make a huge difference in college life experience.

Wallace Falls hike

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator:

One of my favorite FIUTS events as a facilitator is the Global Getaway trip to Vancouver and Victoria, Canada during spring break. It was my first time facilitating an off campus event. I was stressed out before the trip thinking of how to organize activities for a week and make sure that participants have good time. Adding on top of those stresses was first time driving a U-car mini van safely to take students to visit another country. With great help from my peer facilitator, Jeremy, I was able to feel more confident and successfully led the trip. Fourteen of us enjoyed sharing delicious food, biking around Stanley park, hiking, swimming, visiting museum, playing pools, singing karaoke, dancing. etc. We had a really good time in Canada.

Discovering downtown Vancouver, Canada

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

Keep seeking for more challenges. Taking on different leadership positions such as planning committee or student board. The more challenge we have, the more rewarding we feel at the end, and the more personal growth we attain.

Be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned.

Never hesitate to ask for help from the staff and other facilitators. They are very good resources.

Take best advantage of facilitator socializing events. These events are the best time for us to learn more from each other, broaden our networking, and make lifelong friendship.

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Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here!

More Facilitator Corner posts:

Jianyang (Jane) Zhang

Jonathan Cheng

Fah Thamsuwan

Charlie Warner

Katherine Li

Nabil Sutjipto

Jeremy Sculley

Ani Antonyan

Jaisang Sun

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2 Cities

Posted by FIUTS Community at Aug 12, 2014 11:15 AM |
Labisha Uprety, a SUSI student who recently returned to her home country of Nepal, shares her perspective on the first two legs of the SUSI trip: Seattle and Chicago.

Over the last month, students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka were in Seattle for a new program coordinated by FIUTS, the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). Each student has written a blog post about the experience. Here's a post by Labisha Uprety from Nepal about her time in Seattle and Chicago:

Seattle is a shy guy.

A haranguing 29-hour flight later, all you want is your mother. Or good food, someone to fuss over you and finger-comb your hair.

Instead, we had Tom give us a zip lock containing an apple, a banana and granola bars near midnight and guiltily inform us that restaurants closed early on Sundays on the ‘Ave’.

(Which was just as well, considering I came to love granola bars and crunch on them pretty much all the time, driving my new roommate crazy with all the crunching noises when she would be trying to riffle through her beloved Zadie Smith, who I likened to Jane Austen, which only drove her more nuts.)

I want to say that the moment I first looked out of my window of 458 - Alder Commons, I saw Mount Rainier on one side and the city sprawling underneath, or more appropriately, alongside it. But all I could see was a hazy fog in the distance and incredibly bright sunlight at 10:12 p.m. Unnerving for someone who is used to darkness by 6:00.

Did this mean that night lasted ‘till 9 in the morning here? I was beginning to feel like this city wasn’t too sure of itself.

Labisha (center) with other SUSI participants Mitali Prakash Rathod (left) and Zenisha Gonsalves (right) in front of the Ferris Wheel in downtown Seattle

A few days of uncertain food choices and time-management issues followed. My fancy shoes never saw daylight for some reason, hence bathroom slippers for classes. Yes people, now you know why I wore those red-striped flip-flops everywhereOr as Mike used to call them, sandals.

Sleep cycles were effectively reversed. Chai was found (hurrah!) and in between  trying to find the perfect rating of ‘hot’ for Panang curry, so was Seattle. He was a tall fair guy who wore light button-up shirts which he left open at the collar and beige trousers that never seemed to get dirty despite their dirty color. I saw him talk about legislations on legalizing marijuana and I saw him secretly roll up a joint and blow smoke into the pristine air that he was so proud of in the daylight. I hid behind musty bookshelves and discovered that he liked Bukowski and read it while no one was watching; profane verses of poetry hid behind ‘Entrepreneurial Journalism Vol.1’. I saw that he sometimes liked to live in 3-bedroom houses with running hot water and central heating and other times, on unoccupied park benches or on streets, rolled up in his rags, mostly under steel plates that screamed street names.

You know the likes of men like these; they need to be nudged or even elbowed sometimes for them to take notice of you. I had to go mountain climbing almost barefoot to please him (read: forgot shoes again). I had to forsake my bed and sleep on dew-riddled grass on the side of a lake to get to know him better. Not to mention having to whip my hair and stomp my feet around a blazing campfire like Shivaji; sans a snake wrapped around my neck.

But it worked.

I knew he liked me too the day a stranger came up to me and asked me for directions to a good place to eat, 3 weeks into living in Seattle. How incredulous that I should be asked for directions when I barely knew how to make my way back into Alder!

How wonderfully incredulous. I knew Seattle had taken notice then. I happily gave directions, but I am unsure if they were correct. Oh well. Only so much you can know in a month.

Chicago wore neon sneakers.

Seattle settled into its old cool as I left. He kissed me goodbye and I left with hopes to maybe look him up again.

People were sad around me. Everyone had had their share of affairs with Seattle.

4 hours later, Chicago.

And it slapped me the moment I got out of the airport; into the shuttle bus and the driver turned on the radio.

What was that?

Jazz?

Blues?

Eddie Veddar marrying hip-hop?!

And what am I looking at from these moving window panes? The average 1950’s American movie?

Zenisha besides me kept crying “FULL HOUSE! FULL HOUSE!”, naming the emotion that Chicago induced in her, when everyone knows Full House wasn’t filmed in Chicago. It just looked like it may have been.

Chicago pulled out your tongue and stuck it to its sidewalks. A midnight stroll later, I perfectly expected the Bee Gees to come up behind me and begin singing ‘Saturday Night Fever’, and then everyone would follow step, clicking our fingers together and tapping our new-looking shoes in the middle of traffic. That did not happen. But that does not matter. The point is it could have.

Chicago was a shirtless tan guy in bright shorts and a matching fedora. He ran alongside you in the musty underground and laughed loud and obnoxious as cars pulled up and cops piled out onto pitch dark streets below our hotel rooms. He played drums out of old buckets in the middle of traffic and held out another bucket for money. He demanded your attention,and you gave it to him.

2 Cities

(American Gothic - Photo by Labisha Uprety)

My roommate is one of those annoying people who will moan and grumble at the idea of going outside in the sun, preferring to keep her nose buried in her tablet and be comforted by the artificial cool of her room but transforming into this excited squirrel when I drag her to see the likes of ‘American Gothic’ and Rubens; posting photos on social media like it was her idea all along. We took a yellow cab to the Art Institute of Chicago like real city people, being inappropriate amounts excited at our supposed chic. Little did we know we would be repeating the yellow cab adventure when we were running late for our group tour at Navy Pier, having to tip the driver far too much to get to a place that was literally 3 minutes away. And again, when Mitali was in her element and tried outrunning everyone to get to the hotel first with us in tow; only to circle Magnificent Mile for more than an hour before we had to slump into another yellow cab and be driven two blocks south.

But that may also be because I kept asking directions to ‘Maleficent Mile’ for some reason. Everybody likes Angelina Jolie.

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The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

The program in Seattle is coordinated by the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a local non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington that promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding in the region. The Seattle Globalist, a daily publication covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe, is collaborating with FIUTS to deliver courses on topics in journalism and new media.

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My Amazing Fridays

FIUTS summer intern Rika Murakami provides today's guest post discussing her role and responsibilities overseeing FIUTS Friday events.

Over the past six-weeks Rika Murakami (originally from Japan) has volunteered as an intern here at FIUTS, providing assistance to the staff on numerous projects and events. Today she has written a few words about her experience with her main responsibility, overseeing FIUTS Fridays.

I have mainly focused on FIUTS Friday since I stated internship this July.

I like FIUTS Friday a lot because I can meet with new people and get to know different culture at the same time. Each outside event is awesome since summer is the best season in Seattle. Personally I like Seafair 4th at Gas Works, and Bite of Seattle.

My role is to take them to the event location and make sure that everyone arrives home safely. I check which buses we can take and select the best route before weekly events begin. Also, I try to make a good atmosphere for everyone to get along each other easily, and take group pictures to post on the FIUTS Facebook page.

The challenging thing is leading participants effectively. I don’t have any opportunities to be a leader in Japan, so it was difficult for me to facilitate many participants at once. For example, sometimes I have to shout or stand on the chair to get everyone’s attention. But over time I got used to leading these larger groups.

The rewarding moment is when participants come to the FIUTS Friday again. It means they enjoyed FIUTS Friday and think want to join it again in the next event. I like to know new people, but I also like to see the same people who joined FIUTS Friday before.

I learned a lot of things from FIUTS Friday and it makes my summer memories this year unforgettable, I want to say thank you to everyone who joined FIUTS Friday and made it so much fun!

If you are interested in an internship with FIUTS, please take a moment to look at our employment page for more information.

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The Power of Journalism

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Aug 08, 2014 01:55 PM |
Yoshiko Matsushima served as a FIUTS Ambassador for the recently departed students participating in the Study of the U.S. Institute For Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). A journalist herself, Yoshiko composed a blog post about her experience.

This summer, students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka were in Seattle for a new program coordinated by FIUTS, the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). Each student was paired with an ambassador from the University of Washington to act as hosts, mentors, and friends. Today's a post is by Yoshiko Matsushima, one of this year's ambassadors, sharing a little bit about her experience:

I met a girl who became important in my life when I was fourteen years old. I don’t know her name, her age, or her family at all, but I do remember her eyes staring at me. The year was 1996. I went to the Philippines to meet my father who was working in an electric company. While I was riding in a car on a highway, a girl came to the car and knocked on the window. She had some flowers, and asked me to buy them through the window. She wasn’t wearing shoes, even though I could tell it was very hot because of the reflected heat of the sun. She must have been less than ten years old.

I was so shocked at the situation, and I felt indignation against society. Where I was from in Japan, I was accustomed to seeing teenagers in Japan who prostituted themselves to buy big-name brand products such as Chanel or Louis Vuitton. Here though, a girl in the Philippines sold flowers to live or to support her family. I felt social contradiction, and I wanted to ask people, “What do you think about this situation?” I wanted to share this information with a lot of people, so I decided to become a reporter.

Yoshiko, right, with fellow SUSI ambassadors and participants

When I met the girl, I also questioned myself. What is different between me and her? Am I superior? No! I was just lucky. I was just born in Japan. I just had parents who raised me well. It was my good fortune to be able to go to school and get an education, but what if I had been born in Philippines? What if I had not had parents? What if…?

In my opinion, imagination is the most important thing for journalists. Also, I think that every journalist needs to be able to see a larger view to expand imagination. It is also important to not be caught by one’s sense of values. However, 2 years ago, I realized that I didn’t have a larger view even though I had been working as a journalist for eight years. I was scared to keep working as a journalist.

In 2011, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and the following disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Most of the Japanese population including myself had believed that nuclear power was safe until Fukushima nuclear power plant exploded, but it was not true. What we believed was wrong. I was devastated because most of media had been promoting the government policy of building nuclear power plants for a long time. When I worked as a journalist, I had to trust myself to judge what was news and what was the essence of the news. But after the earthquake, I felt afraid of doing things like that because I didn’t know whether my judgment was right or wrong. I had no idea what I should do as a journalist. I realized then that I needed to expand my view.

After I came to the United States, I learned about diversity. Everyone is different, so communication is necessary in any situation. In the SUSI program, I went to a camp with participants, ambassadors, and FIUTS staffs, and we discussed about communication. What is communication? Why is communication important? It was a great experience for me to listen to other’s opinions. The programs participants are from several countries, and each participant has different character, opinion, and background. Something is not common to someone. For example, it is very common for a mother to sleep with her baby in Japan, but it’s so unusual in the United State. It is a just part of examples, but idea is totally different between two countries.

Again, everybody is different. Therefore communication and also imagination are very important. I recognized the same thing that I felt when I was fourteen. It’s simple, but sometimes it’s not easy. Some people tend to look down on others. In our society there is still discrimination, social oppression, sexism and xenophobia. If you felt something was wrong, you could raise your voice to improve the situation or environment. Please share your information and your opinion with your friends, your family and your comrades. I believe that journalism has a power to change a world and make a better life.

I remember a girl who I met in Philippines. I hope she doesn’t stand on a highway. I hope she lives a happy life. At the end, I want to ask you. Please imagine your neighbors. You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.

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The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

The program in Seattle is coordinated by the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a local non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington that promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding in the region. The Seattle Globalist, a daily publication covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe, is collaborating with FIUTS to deliver courses on topics in journalism and new media.

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Tale of a Radio

Dipendra, a SUSI student from Nepal, shares his thoughts about emerging new forms of digital media after a visit to KUOW, a non-profit radio station based in Seattle.

Over the last month, students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka were in Seattle for a new program coordinated by FIUTS, the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). Each student has written a blog post about the experience. Here's a post by Dipendra K.C. from Nepal about his time in Seattle:

Emergence of e-Radios like iTunes and Pandora has threatened the existence of conventional radio. When even the commercial radio stations are facing a threat and challenge for the survival. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to visit KUOW and understand how the private, not for profit radio is operating and coping with the challenges of changing media landscape.

It was interesting to learn that the broadcast region of the radio extends across Seattle, the Puget Sound region and Western Washington. I was also amazed to explore that the radio served nearly 419,100 listeners* each week.

Furthermore, the revenue model adopted by the radio was very new for me. We hardly have any radios that are operated by donations. The 2013 annual report of the Radio stated that in the fiscal year 2013, 63% of the revenue was individual support, 23% business support, 9% institutional support and 2% were other sources.

Even the broadcast advertisements are less than 20 seconds and contain direct message. This model eliminates the potential influence from the advertisers on the content broadcast through the radio. The studio can win the trust of the audiences for broadcasting the unbiased news.

In addition, the strategies adopted by the radio to retain its competitive edge in the changing media landscape was very exciting. Though the primary focus of the radio is radio programs, still they have invested heavily in the online platforms.

Dipendra with his homestay hosts

It was exciting to learn that the Human Resource in the technical departments, web department and social media has doubled compared to the last year. The changing Human Resources patterns also indicate that there have been increased efforts to provide the radio programs and contents in the web.

KUOW also has two intensive programs that help young students to meet their learning aptitude through a program called Radioactive Youth Media and support the media initiative through KUOW venture fund. This is a positive step on the part of KUOW to strengthen radio journalism in the region. The way it serves as a practical school is a very rare sight in my home country.

During the conversation, I learned that the reporters and journalists have changed the way they used to prepare programs. Only audio would work for the radio programs a couple of years back, however, now the same person would also need to prepare the text version for web as well as the audio for radio.

The way the length of talk shows have declined to 10 minutes from 40 minutes portrays that there has been a fundamental shift in the radio programming at KUOW. However, people working in the stations are cynical about the way things have changed and fear that the programs might lose their qualitative strength with the change. They are also waiting for the feedback from the audience for the recent changes.

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The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

The program in Seattle is coordinated by the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a local non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington that promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding in the region. The Seattle Globalist, a daily publication covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe, is collaborating with FIUTS to deliver courses on topics in journalism and new media.

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Life as an Ambassador

Nao Sano served as a FIUTS Ambassador for the recently departed students participating in the Study of the U.S. Institute For Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). A former journalist herself, Nao composed a brief blog post summarizing her experience.

This summer, students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka were in Seattle for a new program coordinated by FIUTS, the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). Each student was paired with an ambassador from the University of Washington to act as hosts, mentors, and friends. Today's a post is by Nao Sano, one of this year's ambassadors, sharing a little bit about her experience:

The Seattle Times editor meeting room was filled with the enthusiasm of young journalists from South Asia. “Have you ever had any media censorship?” “How do you maintain the privacy?” Questions about ethical issues from the participants to the four journalists didn’t stop. It impressed me and reminded of the days when I was a journalist.

I started to work for the Japanese daily newspaper in Japan seven years ago. The word that expresses those days as a journalist was busy, busy, busy. I wrote articles even while driving a car. Therefore sometimes I took the wrong road. After writing the daily articles, it was time to meet people who can’t meet during the day. I never returned to my home before 9pm on weekday - I was too into my work.

“To see what happens by your two eyes, to meet people face to face, to hear the real voice by your two ears. Write what you really saw, heard and felt”. I always remembered when I couldn’t write. The elder coworker told me so when I covered criminal for the first time seven years ago. I wrote down the detail and handed it him to let him check before sending to the editor. He suddenly threw it to the garbage because I just followed the police announcement paper without asking them directly. He wanted me to know the truth is not always on the paper. We had to ask “why” and seek information about the background. With digital media growing rapidly, the need to report speedily is more important than ever before. Journalists need more skill to use digital content and analyze data quickly. Nevertheless, those basic and natural skills, I believe asking "why" will always remain central to the job of a journalist.

Labor issues, mental illness and immigrant issues were always my topic outside of the daily news. 30 thousand people. Do you know what this number means? This is the average number of people who have committed suicide in Japan ever year since 1998. Many terrible wars happen all over the world. On the other hand, in Japan, ranked as eighth peaceful country in the world, people kill themselves without leaving any message to their family.

I covered the organization which tried to save people who are suicide risks. I met a 20-year-old man through the organization who could not leave his own house at all for two years and due to constant thoughts about death. “I didn’t know why I couldn’t have gone out from home. I just always felt in the classroom of junior and high school that I couldn’t have behaved like others. It was very vague and uncertain, but little by little depress me and occupied my brain. Just I wanted to be invisible person”. He was suffering. However, he had gotten to change his mind since the organization approached and took care of him. I just wrote his word to let people know there are many supporters and anyone is not alone.

Later I got letter from a woman who has a 30-year-old son who had stayed at home for 7 years without seeing anybody including her. She set up the organization for parents who had children suffering from the depression or mental illness. She told me my articles encouraged her to establish the organization. I never expected an article of mine could have such an effect. My small articles might not have impacted thousands of people, but might have been able to change one person.

2:46pm March 11, 2011. The massive earthquake struck Japan, which claimed more than 15 thousands lives and changed Japan in a moment. I was interviewing the superintendent of schools in his office and I felt shock even more than 600 kilometer far from the epicenter. I covered how tsunami damaged the elementary school in the disaster area. In the school, 74 students, 70% of the student population, were killed by the tsunami. When I went around the school, a man tried to wipe the dirt away from the house. I asked him about the school. He had a daughter and a son. When he found them in the dirt, they were no longer breathing. “I’m sorry I can’t tell my name. I could find my children. However, still there are some people who can’t find their missing children. I feel very sorry for them”. The words I had in mind were useless for him. What could I do for him? How could I save him? While he sank into sorrow, he wanted to care of his neighborhood. I could not ask him for anything else. What I could do is to be by him for a while. What can I do to make the world better to citizens? Not only about the disaster preparedness, we have discussed but nuclear power plants after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.

I am now thirty years old. Many friends already had gotten married and had kids. Some friends quit jobs and others continue in their careers. I liked my work, but being a journalist working for the daily newspaper in Japan was not easy job for me to make balance with raising a child. It was the time to consider of my future again. I resigned my job and chose to return to be a student in Seattle. I have tried not to stand as a journalist but to participate in some related activities as one of participants since I came to Seattle.

However, the SUSI participants, these fascinating young journalists, showed me many potentials as a journalist. They really wanted to appeal something to the world. To spend time with them changed me. Press freedom- it is the common problem that we, Asian countries, have to confront. The highest country of the press freedom in Asia was Taiwan, which was ranked as 50th in the world. Japan is also 59th. We have to progress. These young journalists might be able to impact the public.

I don’t know yet how I will continue to write. But, I would like to continue to write in my own way in order to spot small voices. I would like to continue challenging with “my new coworkers” of South Asia.

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The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

The program in Seattle is coordinated by the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a local non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington that promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding in the region. The Seattle Globalist, a daily publication covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe, is collaborating with FIUTS to deliver courses on topics in journalism and new media.

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SUSI - The Experience of a Lifetime

Medha, a SUSI student from India, writes about her Seattle experiences.

This summer, students from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are in Seattle for a new program coordinated by FIUTS, the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI). Each student will be writing a blog post about the experience. Here's a post by Medha Kohli from India about her experience so far:

'Are you okay?' I heard her asking. 'I think I'm going to puke', I said. 'You'll be fine, it happened to me the first time too. Don't worry' she tried comforting. I nodded with teary eyes and walked ahead with all kinds of negative thoughts pulling me down after my first flight experience.

Technically it was the second, considering the change of flight at Heathrow. 9 hours earlier I had liked the thought of thinking myself as 'experienced'. Little had I known then that the long journey would mess with my system so much that the nauseous feeling only worsened this time. We collected our luggage and walked out after what seemed like an hour now. The fear of what could lie ahead was clinging to my senses and I tried to push them away, knowing somewhere deep down that it will definitely be one of the best experiences of my life.

We walked out of the airport, stepped into the sun and I could feel my lips automatically curving into a smile as the cold wind (comparatively cold) brushed my face and the feeling of finally stepping onto land saat samundar par- hindi for seven seas away, washed over me.

Seattle Skyline with American Flag (Photo by Ranak Martin)

It had only been a week since we got to Seattle and had returned from our very first adventure hiking, trekking and living in the woods, to the UW Alder Commons and here I was calling this place my 'home'.

While some things were uncomfortable in the beginning, there have been many other things that have left a mark in my life which I shall look back to and cherish for years to come. One of these things was the absolutely gorgeous and grand event of the Gas Works Fireworks of 4th July. It was an exprience that was new to me and on an entirely different level.

Seattle Space Needle (Photo by Medha Kohli)

"Can you please help me get there?" the little girl asked running to the place where i stood, next to a trail of stones that led to a big rock a little further away from the land, where you could sit. I was still standing there alone as I helped her get there, questioning myself on the life choices I’d made until now, while the group was sitting a little far behind me on the hill where Charlie was trying to entertain and engage everyone. The girl however distracted me from my stupid thoughts, bringing me back to what I’d been wondering all day- 'how would these fireworks be any different from the ones back home?'. I was staring in the distance recalling times from back home where almost every little event like a cricket match, marriage or elections were simple invitations for fireworks, when the little girl threw a stone in the water which splashed everywhere and made me look around. I noticed the huge crowd which was increasing steadily, all geared up with their food baskets and camping chairs and blankets. I very honestly couldn't fathom why people were so excited about this, but never having seen the fireworks, I assumed it must be something really special that such a  large population of people had gathered here on this chilly night to simply view fireworks.

Indeed! There was no way I could compare the fireworks I saw that day with the ones back home. Those 15 minutes of complete silence where nobody could take their eyes off from the sky, the light from those wonderfully coordinated and designed fireworks shown on every face, reflecting their happiness and joy, their spirit of oneness and freedom. That moment of shared silence, with the entire city so beautifully lit up and the sound of sniffs from the background only just aroused patriotic feelings for my own country and reminded me of our 200-year struggle, Bhagat singh and all other leaders who fought for our freedom. What really stunned me and touched my heart most was the helicopter taking a tour of the city with the American flag hanging from it, for its citizens. All I could imagine at that moment was what the people would be feeling when looking out of their windows to see the American flag making a proud tour of the city.

SUSI - The Experience of a Lifetime

It was the most beautiful gesture by the Army for their citizens. It was a very different kind of celebration from ours but reflected the similar peace and freedom and reminded of and helped the new generation relive those special historic moments from years ago in very different ways. It was a lovely experience and worth the four hour long wait in every sense of the word!

'So, how was it?' she asked as we were shivering and walking through the crowd, and all i could do was blink and smile at her. She got her answer and i returned back to my  thoughts where I was busy recalling every little detail that altered me or gave me an expereince i've always wanted to have. Right from the first adventure of trekking in the typical Seattle rainy weather, visiting the Space Needle- which was simply an attractive part of scenes from Grey's Anatomy to me till then, to the more impulsive decisions of jumping into lakes and other tiny differences of everyday life which I am getting used to now, a little too much I'm afraid! But then Change is the only constant in life after all. I know that when I leave this city I will take lots of memories with me, but will also leave behind a piece of me here.

Canoeing and Swimming in Lake Union (Photo by Simran Bhui)

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The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, promote a better understanding of the people, institutions, and culture of the United States among foreign students, teachers, and scholars. Study of the U.S. Institutes are short-term academic programs for groups of undergraduate leaders, educators, and scholars from around the world.

The program in Seattle is coordinated by the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a local non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington that promotes international friendship and cross-cultural understanding in the region. The Seattle Globalist, a daily publication covering the connections between Seattle and the rest of the globe, is collaborating with FIUTS to deliver courses on topics in journalism and new media.

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