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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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Afraid to Arrive - Disinclined to Depart

Kritika, a SUSI student from Nepal, writes about what her Seattle experiences so far:

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 Kritika Lamsal from Nepal about her experience so far:

It was not ‘love at first sight’! Me and America; we did not gel up well.

Let me start with the dogs. I am not kidding when I say that I am petrified of dogs. Don’t hate me for saying this but I can’t function with them around. And here, almost everyone has one. Then, the Coke here is different, a lot sweeter than in Nepal. Turns out, it is sweetened with corn syrup. Also, the dusk falls at 9 p.m. The sky starts turning dark way before that back home. Gulping down your dinner so early, with daylight outside was another challenge. That brings me to the thing that gave me a hard time: the food. The proportion of food in one meal can make me last all day. And the sweetness in it almost reminds me of desserts. The other thing that I wasn’t familiar with is the right hand side driving. I got muddled up for days. But now, things are different. All the pieces are falling in place.

Big city; new people. Truthfully, I was scared. But, after a brief interaction with my new SUSI mates, our cool ambassadors and the FIUTS staffs, I was relieved. I felt at ease, not trapped. The amiability of the people and the places has changed me.

Despite my failed attempts to master the skill of punctuality, I try my best to get to the class on time to reduce the risk of missing anything interesting. The lecturers are top-notch in the fields they specialize on and hearing them makes me realize that there is so much more to learn. Only midway through the program, I have built an understanding on ethical dilemmas surrounding journalism, changing media landscapes, technological use and even the history of journalism. And still, there is more to go.  This, this learning, is something that will stick with me all my life. From my first class itself, I was impressed. Everything was organized, every event planned with precision. It is weird, but true when I say that I love studying here. Classes are interesting and filled with activities I have grown fond of.  Do you know that Sarah, from Seattle Globalist, uses cat pictures in every slide of her power-point lecture to stop students from diverting their attention? And to my surprise, it actually works. (Adding this tactic to my to-do-list!)

Coolest days are the days we explore the city outside of the halls of the University. Making sure that we don’t overstress ourselves, our routine also encompasses loads of fun activities and community services.

One of such days was 4th of July, which happens to be the day when America tasted independence. Maybe, this was one of the reasons the day remains close to me. I realized on that day, everything can’t be perfect, even for the most successful of nations. The food delivery system is only able to provide less than 1% of organic food to the public due to which, the elderly and adolescents, especially poor ones, are prone to various deficiencies. Marra Farms is a volunteer run initiative, which grows organic vegetables and produce that caters for more than 5 food banks, touching lives of thousands of poor families. It was almost uplifting, to know that we were contributing to provide healthy food to the people who need it most. Also, rummaging through soil with your bare hands brings you closer to the rawness of nature. It did that to me. That followed by the fireworks later that day. Nothing can top that! Personally, it was undoubtedly the best event in SUSI, so far.

Everything has a first time. It amazes me that many of my ‘first time’ experiences happened right here, in the States. On our climb to Mt Rainer, I touched snow for the first time. In Puget Sound, with the wind in my hair, I enjoyed my first cruise. I had ice cream from a food truck for the very first time. (The snow cups were terrible, though.) Breaking through my reluctance, I tried turkey and beef for the first time, right here. I experienced the vibe of a regular meeting of a national daily newspaper, for the first time. Few days back, I saw the most astounding scene; fireworks covering the sky, for the first time. All these experiences took place right here, so these will return with me when I go back.

Almost comical, it is. A country which I once thought to be hard to reside in has become so dear now. All because of SUSI and the people involved to make it happen. Now, I can easily have the food, am used to the bright evenings and less frightened of dogs.

Back then, I was afraid to stay here, now I am afraid to leave.

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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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The Choice

Simran, a SUSI student from India, shares her through-provoking reflections about her chosen career in journalism.

Over the next month, 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 Simran Bhui from India about her time in Seattle so far:

Since the time the SUSI program has begun, my days have been filled with engaging lectures, amazing activities and enriching site vists. Each lecture, each activity and each site visit has gotten me thinking about things. We have been encouraged - encouraged to question, encouraged to think and encouraged to have fun.

Our visit to the Seattle Times was perhaps one of the most important experiences till date. It made me question what kind of a journalist I want to be. It made me question what kind of journalists the world needs.

A journalist's job is not easy. The constant search for stories, the deadlines, the art of cultivating sources, and then ensuring their safety, the struggle to maintain a balance between one's work life and personal life are just a few of the things that make journalism one of the most challenging professions of this age.

One of the most daunting, yet interesting part of being a journalist is the struggle to make choices - probably hundreds of them each day. Among the many number of choices that a reporter makes, the toughest one is perhaps this:

"Do I choose to be a human being first or a journalist?"

The history of journalism is rampant with instances where a reporter has had to make this choice. When faced with heart-wrenching cases of human misery and suffering, what should a reporter do? Should s/he step in and help? It may meddle with the story, affect the outcome and threaten the publication of the story, but it will certainly change a life. Or, should s/he stand back and let the events unfold as they may? After all, a journalist reports what is, as is, while maintaing a distance that ensures the presence of an objective outlook. How does a journalist make that choice?

Photos by Saif Mohammad

A few years back, a reporter covered a story showcasing the painfully shocking and disturbing practice of human sacrifice in a remote village in India. Capturing the entire ordeal on tape, he narrated the horrifying tale of the annual practice. This particular incident sparked a heated debate on the matter of choice.

One group of people believe that he could have and should have stepped in and taken steps to stop the sacrifice from happening. There was, afterall, a life at stake. Should journalists detach themselves from their stories to such a high degree that they can stand and witness murder? Does it not then make them an accessory to murder? There had to be a way to report the incident without letting the sacrifice happen. There had to be a way to report the incident and save a life at the same time.

The second group of people support his actions. Had he not recorded the event on tape, there would not have been a huge hue and cry against the practice. The government wouldn't have taken necessary steps to ensure that the annual tradition never happened again, had he not decided to stand back and do his job. Did he not save hundreds and thousands of lives by making that choice? Wasn't it a wise choice? People respond better to images. People connect better to images. Thus, there was no option but to report, and to hold a mirror in front of the society.

Kevin Carter's Pultizer winning piece of photojournalism can be analysed along the same lines. Was the Pulitzer worth the cost of a life? Isn't humanity more important than journalism? When does a reporter need to decide to shed his garments of objectivity and step in?

The choice - the moment where a reporter decides what defines her/him. Is he a human being first, and then a journalist or vice-versa?

The choice - the toughest part of being a journalist. Is the sacrifice of one at the cost of saving many worth it?

It is all about the choice.

What kind of a journalist do I want to be? Do I want to dedicate myself to journalism so wholly that it becomes engraved in every cell of my being? Or do I choose to be a journalist grounded in my sense of humanity?

It all comes down to why I chose journalism in the first place. I want to become a journalist to make a change. I want to become a journalist to change lives, to bring smiles and to bring people closer. I value relationships. I value life. I value values.

"Do I choose to be a human being first or a journalist?"

Perspective. It has never been this clear before. I choose to be a journalist, but with a human eye. I choose to be a journalist, but with a helping hand. I choose to be a journalist, but value life.

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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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Meet the Summer Interns

Posted by FIUTS Community at Jul 15, 2014 02:30 PM |
Get to know Momoko and Rika, the new and wonderful summer FIUTS office interns!

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

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

 

Name: Momoko Iwata

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Year: Junior

Major: French and Sociology

I am an international student at Bellevue College, and just started working for FIUTS as an intern. I usually work at the front desk and also lead FIUTS Fridays with other facilitators!

I love traveling, learning about new cultures, and making friends all over the world! My passion for cultural exchange has persuaded me to work in the international education industry. I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity and excited to work with wonderful staff as a part of FIUTS.

In my free time here, I enjoy hiking with my host family and trying a new café with my friends. I love Seattle and now it is my second hometown!

 

Name: Rika Murakami

Hometown: Kobe, Japan

Year: Junior

Major: Business and English Literature

I am an exchange student at Bellevue College from Japan. I've been in Seattle 10 months so far. I am doing internship in this summer quarter as a part of my business program. I mainly take part FIUTS Friday which we enjoy and explore Seattle area every Friday with UW students and FIUTS friends.

I attended some activities with FIUTS last year, and I have been pretty interested in this organization for a long time, because FIUTS engages in providing unique experiences to students and community members effectively at UW, where there are mixed various cultural backgrounds. This is an ideal internship for me!

I am happy to work as a member of FIUTS staff. Also, I appreciate FIUTS staff for giving me such a great opportunity!

 

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

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My SUSI Experience: Not What I Expected

Anuja, a SUSI student from Nepal, writes about what she's experiencing in Seattle.

Over the next month, 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 Anuja Khadka from Nepal about her time in Seattle so far:

Coming to USA and flying on a jet plane was my dream. Its been a life changing experience after penetrating through the white clouds, being up above and landing here. I am at such place which is a big achievement for my parents to be proudly tell every one "o my daughter is at America!"

Stepping here from the airports, airplane to the restrooms, now I know why Americans are called civilized. So many stereotypes regarding American people are actually false. They respect, greet and thank everyone all around. They thank drivers, cafeteria cashier, grocery keeper and everyone who works. Even the cleaner who clean buildings. Stranger Americans greet us! They have dustbin to recycle and compost. They follow the rules really politely. Without further thoughts, I definitely felt a cultural shock but I was prepared to certain extent. It's obvious because I come from the other part of the globe where it is night when it is day here.

Camping in Pack Forest

Eating has been a huge problem. We indeed have lots of fooding facilities but we cannot eat it because of the new taste. I hate cheese but I have to eat it here. The matter of the fact is that I have gained my weight in 7 days. I definitely miss momo and typical Nepali food here. But I have made up my mind for the new food and the taste. Why not try new when I am here? Actually, I need to accept the truth that home is not every where but we can definitely make the place you are in a home. So, I have my friends and mentors as a family. I feel homely at my dorm! My roommate from India is Mitali who is wonderful. A kind of attachment has already started with the bed, my desk, my chair, cupboard, window, the whole apartment and also the elevator. Not to forget my golden swipe card. I love it so much! We are learning how the things work step by step. It feels accomplished.

UW Dorm Room (Photo by Anuja Khadka)

I am not suffering from home sick till these 8 days at Seattle. It may be because my life was really frustrating due to same old college routine and I wanted some break.  I am fully occupied and I'm happy here. Yes! I feel refreshed! It feels like a heaven at some places like Space Needle Tower and the Mt. Rainier or University of Washington itself. My dad after seeing my photo at the main campus commented " it looks like a palace". Well, it is!

Seattle view from the tower was mindblowing. Mount Rainier was indeed a paradise. I am living my dream in USA.

View of Seattle from the Space Needle (Photo by Anuja Khadka)

Apart from the fun times, I want to learn the hardships here. Reaching and starting scheduled things on sharp time is quite challenging for me because in my home country we never start programs on time. It's bitter since it is the truth. However, mentors from FIUTS are really encouraging, cooperating and loving. Thanks to my ambassadors Jiachun and Dannya. You guys are too cool and friendly. It feels too good when Jia sings 'sunday morning love you' and dances on it. Haha! It's the same with Dannya. All of them, my mentors, are so good to have tolerated our silly behaviors. I am sorry I cannot stop capturing the photograph of such a beautiful place. Not my mistake though! It's Seattle that's photography worthy. City's fault! Haha!

Mt. Rainier Hiking

Everything is totally fine, maybe it’s only the honey moon phase of the trip and bumps are yet to be dealt with. After all, a leader faces all the downs and gets over it!

I came here to learn and I am learning! My dream is to utilize what I learnt here back in my country Nepal. First project I am definitely going to start is the Food Bank Project.

Thank you FIUTS, SUSI, US Embassy and my entire co-participants for taking my life to the new level.

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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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Welcome, Michael

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jul 11, 2014 12:30 PM |
Filed under: ,
Introducing our new Homestay & Community Programs Assistant, Michael Levkowitz.

 

Michael Levkowitz joined FIUTS this week as the new Homestay and Community Programs Assistant and we are thrilled to welcome him to our team! In this role he will be supporting community events and activities; contributing to the FIUTS blog, newsletters, and social media platforms; and assisting with homestay coordination and host recruitment. Here is Michael’s brief introduction to the FIUTS community:

What a long and winding path I have traveled to get here! After earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Arizona, I spent a little more than a year living just outside of San Francisco before deciding to return to school, which is what eventually brought me up to Seattle.

Despite a long-standing interest in the news and developments of the world outside the United States, until very recently I don’t know that I had even considered working for an organization focused on promoting international understanding. After just a few weeks of volunteering as an ambassador for the Study of the US Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media program hosted by FIUTS however, I realized how interesting and fulfilling working for the organization could be, and made it my mission to convince the staff that they needed me to join the team.

Michael (left) with participants in the FIUTS SUSI program

I am so excited to join the FIUTS community, and look forward to playing a part as the organization helps build cross-cultural understanding and international awareness among the next generation of global leaders.

With the bit of spare time outside of work and school, I enjoy all of the wonderful free activities the Pacific Northwest has to offer, from hiking and camping to people-watching. Though I have only been here one year, I am proud to call Seattle ”home” and definitely hope to stay in this wonderful city for many years to come.

Michael can be reached at community@fiuts.org.

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Tour De Seattle and Bon Voyage

Nareshwar, a SUSI student from Sri Lanka, writes about what he's experiencing in Seattle.

Over the next month, 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 Nareshwar Vaneshwar from Sri Lanka about his experience so far:

I felt fantastic myself and thrilling to visit the Emerald City of the USA, Seattle was the first impression when I got my confirmation from the Embassy of the US for Sri Lanka.

After 28 hours of travel and transit, at around 0015h of 22nd of June we landed here in this beautiful city. It was Catherine who was holding the SUSI name board to receive us at the SeaTac International Airport.

It was chilling and calm since it was an early morning, and we checked-in to a nearby hotel for that night. We couldn’t enjoy the night beauty of the city since we are new and place is so strange for us on the first day. No fun! I know!! After good hours of sleep, Catherine took us to the Alder Hall, UW where we met Alison for the first time. I introduced myself as, “Hi Alison, this is Nareshwar, from Sri Lanka.”

Slowly and steadily I got to use to the Alder, the Lander, UW Ave, The Hub, Stores around the Ave, different food options, and special mention goes to the Local Point (my daily meal provider). It was fascinating to explore all other places around the campus, in the campus and this place is so huge and historical.

Out of my all life changing experiences, I chose here to write the most significant experience which is the visit to Eatonville and Mount Rainier.

Tom drove us to the Eatonville where we met the Editor of local community paper called ‘The Dispatch’ and the Mayor of the town Mike Schaub. We learnt the community or the city centric newspaper reporting and the elements that we could adopt to our own country. The editor shared his own experiences and tips for us the young journalists. Then we had a discussion with the Mayor addressing about the current issues and future plans of the town. It was overall an informative session for all of us, we always tried to map our country scenarios with the Eatonville development.

Eatonville Chamber of Commerce Building

Rest of the day, we spent at the Pack Forest, preparing ourselves for the for the Sunday hike. I was expecting there will be no snow/ice at all on the mountain and just mountain climbing like we do usually in Sri Lanka. But the mountain was full of snow and that made me dancing since this is the first time I am experiencing a proper snow. I felt like winter though it is summer in Seattle.

I took lot of photographs, posted one on Facebook and one of the friends has a comment saying “Dude you are seriously underdressed to hike Mt Rainier” which made to realize that I am wearing a shorts to hike the Mountain. I value this experience as my best outdoor visits ever.

Mt. Rainier

It was good six hours we spent at the Mountain by hiking, playing and enjoying ourselves.

I am really looking forward to visit Chicago and Washington D.C after Seattle and expecting many more adventurous life changing experiences.

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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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Facilitator Corner: Jianyang (Jane) Zhang

Posted by Ellen Frierson at Jul 09, 2014 11:20 AM |
"FIUTS is a place where all kinds of culture and diversity are equally valued and appreciated."
Facilitator Corner: Jianyang (Jane) Zhang

Jane (far left) with fellow students at orientation this Spring.

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

Name: Jianyang (Jane) Zhang
Country: China
Major: Computer Science
Class: 2017
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Spring 2014

Introduction

My name is Jianyang, which means “make things easier” in Chinese. I also go by Jane. I am currently a freshman and my intended major is Computer Science. I joined FIUTS in Spring 2014 and it was no doubt the biggest highlight of my freshman year. My favorite FIUTS event is Wednesday Lunch and I usually volunteer as the greeter at front desk because I love to see the smile and excitement on people’s faces and I love to be the first one to welcome attendees and encourage them to have a good time!

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

I received so much help and support from FIUTS during my first year here therefore I feel I should give back and that is why I became a facilitator. I love helping people who are in the similar situation like me. During the past year, I have seen lots of international students having difficulties to get involved because of problems such as language barrier and culture difference. Therefore, I believe being a facilitator is a good way to help them get engaged.

It is not easy for most international students to adjust to a totally unfamiliar environment. Also, a lot of international students feel isolated because they are very different from local people who cannot look at things from their perspective. But FIUTS is a place where all kinds of culture and diversity are equally valued and appreciated. FIUTS facilitators all face similar struggles and have very similar perspectives. Therefore, facilitators play an important role in supporting and assisting international students make adjustment to the new environment and promoting multi-culture understanding between international students and local communities.

Jane and FIUTS friends at Gas Works Park for the Fourth of July

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

In May 2014, I volunteered at the FIUTS booths during U-district Street Fair to introduce FIUTS and look for local families host short-term homestay for international students. I really love the way we show the visitors about FIUTS.  We prepared Geographic guessing games and we gave away coloring sheets of “Globie” and cross word puzzles. A lot of us had a good time playing the guessing game with local families and while little kids were coloring Globie, we talked to their parents about FIUTS and answered their question and concern about homestay. It was very enriching to talk to local people about FIUTS. Not very many local people know the benefits of homestay and they do not know that there are a lot of international students waiting for their help. At the end of the event, we got a whole bunch of contact information of potential host families and all of us had a really good time!

Advice for peer facilitators:

Take initiative! Admittedly, it requires a lot of courage to get things started but you will never truly get involved until you sign up for events! Therefore it is important to take initiative!

Start with the easiest thing! The first step is always difficult to take. Therefore, start with things that you are confident in. For example, the first time I volunteered at FIUTS, I was Wednesday lunch food preparer. Even though my work was only cutting apples, the relaxing and welcoming atmosphere in FIUTS gained me strong confidence and empowered me to devote myself to it.

Last but most important, have fun!

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Learn more about the FIUTS Facilitator program here!

More Facilitator Corner posts:

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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Life Changing Experience, Seattle

Haritha, a SUSI student from Sri Lanka, writes about what he's experiencing in Seattle.

Over the next month, 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 Haritha Thilakarathne from Sri Lanka about his experience so far:

It was June 22, 2014, the day I boarded to the plane to have the 28 hours super long flight to Seattle from my sweet isle Sri Lanka. From the second the flight took its wheels off from the ground my life changing voyage started.

FIUTS SUSI program is designed for youth leaders. I was fortunate enough to meet three youth leaders from my own country who’ll be my companions during my stay in the US. The long flight was a great experience and it actually became a test that checked out the tolerance of me being in a same seat for such a long time.

The warm welcome we had at the Seattle Tacoma International airport by the FIUTS staff members disappeared the tiredness after the long trip.

We were eagerly looking forward to meet other SUSI participants from the South Asian countries and the ambassadors from different countries who are studying in US.

SUSI participants and ambassadors at Mt. Rainier

It was really fascinating to share the room with a nice guy from the country of the hills, Nepal. He became famous among the gang for his jokes and that “Dai” shared his leadership experiences and his views and thoughts on youth development.

Living in a city located on the other side of the globe far away from your home country is really challenging. Time difference and the day night clash makes me confused for couple of hours and I am used to managing it now.

University of Washington, the glorious grand buildings of this tremendous university made a dream of my life a reality, being in one of the best universities in the world. Visiting the Suzzallo reading hall at University if Washington, well known as the Harry Potter reading hall made me super delighted.

Adjusting my digesting system for the American food became bit hard because we were used to use lot of spices in our dishes as South Asians. But within these 5-6 days it became normal. Now I love the dishes here!

Classes we having on leadership and communication was really interesting. Because the team in the class is from different cultural backgrounds there are many interesting stories and personal experiences sharing within the lectures.

Though I’m not so much attached with media and journalism I learnt a lot from the media and journalism classes we had from the Seattle Globalist staff and the site visits we done to the Seattle Times and the KUOW radio station make my knowledge broaden on the field of journalism.

The awesome bunch of ambassadors provides a great support staying with us always and helping us to adjust for the culture and the life style of USA.

First weekend at the Pack Forest camping area near the well-known Mount Rainier national park was a pretty good experience. Hiking and exploring the forests and the wildlife in the North America was actually an exciting experience.

Yes. It’s like S’more! I want more to grab!

Enjoying s'mores at Pack Forest

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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 SUSI Experience

Kripa, a participant in the FIUTS SUSI program from Nepal, writes about what she's learned in her first week in Seattle.

Over the next month, 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 Kripa Sigdel from Nepal about her first week as a SUSI participant:

I am not a journalism student but media just happened to me. I always wanted to be in some position where I could be voice of voiceless, dig out the uncovered issue and talk about it. And I got the way for it since I started the radio program in Nepal. Since then media studies and journalism are what I wanted to study and understand more. And the selection in SUSI was what I was looking forward to. And I am now very excited to be studying in one of the best institutes of United States, University of Washington with very impressive instructors.

Kripa blog1

Our group from Nepal arrived in University at 7:30 pm local time. The tiring 26 hours travel and jet lag just seem to vanish away with the feeling of we being in the place where we were so excited to be. Then the day was followed by orientation by FIUTS staffs and then visit to Seattle Times and then Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, then Space Needle. FIUTS, ambassadors and friends from other parts of world making our life so easier and fun here.

Kripa blog2

Kripa blog3

Kripa blog4

Now comes a real part "How much Journalism and Media related knowledge I gained till now?" Yes! To tell the truth, having no academic journalism background, I am having tough time understanding everything in class. Say it libel or slander, the technical words confuse me at times. But at the same time the excitement of learning the subject of my interest makes me try harder understand the subject matter. And I am pretty excited and sure about getting insights in them more with time, hopefully. As they say, learning takes time!

Even classes confuse me at times. The habit of doing last minute preparations and not so many assignments giving me hard time. But this is one most important habit I want to take back home. I am going to encourage everyone to value the time and discipline. People here value time so much which is one key element that sets them part from rest of the world which I have seen. The habit of being sharp at time. It they say 8:30 then it's 8:30. Yes! It has to be too to move with time. You cannot take things or granted. And this is what I am learning here.

When I was back home, I always do last minute preparations and it never did any harm too. But here I needed to be prepared for everything beforehand. I need to make sure all assignments are done before I reach class. And I am seriously loving this 'Make Sure u got it all beforehand" habit. And I believe this is what I am going to do back home. And I so know this one thing will make me different person from I was a week back.

It's just a week and I can already feel the changes. The changes in the way I value time, the way I value rules and the way I value people are making me a different person from which I was a week before. I am sure I have loads to get to know in four more weeks. Five weeks as a SUSI scholar will definitely change me as a person and I am hopeful to take various good stuffs back home. The experiences, memories, friends, learning I got from this beautiful place will be with me forever.

Till the end if first week this place has really been so friendly to me and I just believe this will continue to be till my last day. All the credit goes to FIUTS staff, ambassadors and friends.

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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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