FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over the world who welcome new international visitors, help organize events, and lead activities for hundreds of students each quarter. Read on to find out more about the FIUTS facilitator experience from Herish Patel!
Name: Herish Patel
Major: MS in Construction Management
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2015
Hello everyone, my name is Herish Patel. I am an international student from India, currently enrolled into a Masters program at UW. I completed my undergraduate studies in 2013, majoring in Engineering. Eager to gain success with profound knowledge, I moved out of my home in 2009, and then out of my country in 2015. I believe that when you reach a comfort zone in life, you must break through that zone in order to push yourself forward and achieve your goals. I have experienced two big transitions in my life, which have enlightened me and provided me with substantial life learnings. The 1st experience was when I left my town at the age of 18 and the 2nd one when I came to the U.S.A. The 1st transition showed me the importance of extra-curricular development and the 2nd transition showed me my existence in this world. The 1st transition forced me to change the way I perceive myself and helped me learn developing skills. With the new gained skills, I ended up becoming the head in a Student Organization. The 2nd transition changed the way I see the world, it forced me to broaden my perspectives, and encouraged me to go beyond the limits I had set for myself. This led me to become a happy facilitator for FIUTS.
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
Being a FIUTS facilitator means breaking your psychological boundaries of culture and moving towards a world where everyone understand and flourishes the sense of culture under the shelter of humanity. Meeting new people, learning and respecting other cultures, enlightening your self-world with facts from the real world, taking responsibility of people who are outside of your comfort zone (own culture), developing connections and contributing to make the world a place without boundaries of cultures, cities & countries.
Why are you a facilitator?
The reason behind becoming a facilitator was to meet new people, learn their cultures and make lifelong connections in this new environment. In parallel to learning the leadership aspects, managing people and still finding ways of happiness makes it more fascinating. The FIUTS facilitator program design gives volunteers freedom to leverage events, with some given activities based on participants’ wishes. This helps them break the pattern and develop decision making skills. Being a facilitator, one will also get the chance to see different places around Seattle, something that one might not want to do alone. As a FIUTS facilitator, you will have the chance to feel like a tourist every time you visit a place with new people around you.
Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
I prefer to do driving events, hiking & other outdoor activities out of all the great options offered. My first American camping experience with FIUTS, in which I facilitated with Kevin and Kamal, was the most memorable trip ever. The snowy hidden lake hike of approx. 8 miles round trip on next day was the most energy consuming, but also the most stunning. When participants are wearing running shoes and still want to hike in the snow, it will definitely put a little extra pressure on your shoulders. The SUSI 2016 summer program was also amazing. Through this program, a lot of strong connections were made that during the last day everyone left with watery eyes.
Tips/comments for peer facilitators
Eagerness to learn, accountability to the surroundings, and stepping up when everyone else is hesitating – build these in your everyday life and use them all the time. If you will wait for other facilitators to act than you will never be able to show and grow yourself. That being said, FIUTS is a place where you should forget corporate professionalism and work as a family member. Make preferences for your selection of events, that’s fine, but also make sure to step up when FIUTS needs you because no one will force you to experience new things.
FIUTS is a Family Away from Family.
Check out our past Facilitator Corners:
Cece Zhang, Nail Hassairi, Sophia Chakalo, Bader Alfarhan, Peirce Kirkham, Alissa Mustre, Ang Li,Wedward Wei, Terry Jung, Hassan Almuzaini, Isabella Ning, Lucy Deng, Nhung Le, Abigail Lim, Ferris Maghi, Kevin Sander, Joey Liao, Anya Raj, Minhtu Nguyen, Jianyang (Jane) Zhang, Jialu Sun, Fleur Xuanlin Li, Jeremy Sculley, Ani Antonyan, Jaisang Sun
"I cannot express how much I appreciate FIUTS for providing this chance to let international students connect with local community and thank you for your great help. That night was definitely the best night I've spent in Seattle so far, and I feel so lucky to be a member of this great event." - Meng, FIUTS student
Each November, FIUTS international students get the chance to share Thanksgiving Dinner with our hosts in the Seattle area. For many students, the opportunity to eat turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie with an American family or group of friends is a new and exciting cultural experience. And for hosts, inviting international students to join them for Thanksgiving brings unique perspectives to this fall tradition.
We're thrilled to see so many smiling faces as people from around the world enjoyed a meal together. Enjoy the photo journey through our global Thursday evening!
Four of our students go to spend Thanksgiving Dinner with a talented cook, Betsy, her husband Jason, and their families and friends.
Getting ready to carve up the turkey at the Knowltons'!
Jennifer and her family had a good time celebrating the tradition with FIUTS students!
Timber and Leah got to spend Thanksgiving with our dedicated community member, Linda!
Students from UW Tacoma spent Thanksgiving in Auburn with Anthony and his family!
Getting ready to eat!
FIUTS students Kexuan and Yuan had a chance to take the ferry and spend Thanksgiving with Kenn and his friends at a farm in Belfair! They plan to meet up again and do more tours of Seattle.
Graduate students Navjot and Kamatchi with their Thanksgiving hosts and their family and friends!
Jennifer and her family posing with their three FIUTS students at Thanksgiving!
UW students Jingyi and Yuzhu got to spend an amazing Thanksgiving Dinner with our host Eleanor!
We're so thankful for the community members who welcome students to their tables, and to students for participating in a unique cultural exchange experience!
To learn more about FIUTS hosting and friendship programs, visit www.fiuts.org/homestay.
A message from our sponsor, Zipcar:
No major travel plans for Thanksgiving or winter break? Zipcar has you covered! Book your Zipcars now before all the U District cars are all gobbled up.
Here's some awesome ways to get off campus this holiday season without having to travel far:
1. Shopping! From waiting in lines to scoring the perfect gifts, piling several friends in a Zipcar and hunting for deals is all part of the Black Friday experience. Heck, you can even zip one-way to Northgate or into downtown to avoid the insane mall parking lots.
2. Don't know how to make a turkey? Neither do we. Leave the cooking to the pros and zip to one of several restaurants in Seattle that are open on Thanksgiving. A Zipcar is the perfect way to check out an eatery in an area you don't go to often.
3. Time for a road trip- all Zipcars have daily rates so you can zip overnight and explore. The school break is a great excuse to check out the Snoqualmie Waterfalls, a WA State Park, or finally make it down to Portland. Gas, insurance, and 180 miles/day are included!
Not yet a Zipcar member? JOIN TODAY at zipcar.com/upass and use coupon code "FIUTS16" for $10 FREE driving credit. International licenses are always welcomed. See you on the road!”
On November 2, FIUTS hosted a panel with three professors from the Department of Political Science on "Making Sense of the U.S. Election." An article about the event is reprinted below, and you can read the original here. Thank you to all who participated.
FIUTS (The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students), a nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Washington, sponsored a faculty panel on November 2nd to explain some of the big issues surrounding the election. FIUTS produces “ongoing events and activities throughout the quarter that give students opportunities to get to know others from around the world,” explained Ellen Frierson, the Manager of Education Programs at FIUTS. Over the past year the election has become a topic of discussion among FIUTS students and many have expressed interest in knowing more about the United States political process. Therefore, FIUTS coordinated a faculty panel and invited Political Science Professors Mark Smith, Rebecca Thorpe, and John Wilkerson to participate and to provide their insights on the election.
After giving a quick overview of the three branches of government, their importance in relation to the election cycle, and the presidential electoral system to the audience of mostly international students, the panelists went on to answer questions about the divisiveness and negativity of this election. Professor Thorpe stated that negativity during a campaign is not a new thing, however it is unique in the sense that “the political parties are more polarized than they have been at any time since right before the Civil War.” She also said that anti-political politicians, such as the Tea Party, have contributed in part to what is now a more divisive climate.
Media has also played a role in the negativity and polarization of this election. Although it may not have caused it directly, it at least exacerbates these political divisions. All three panelists commented that voters tend to self-select their media outlets. Strong Republicans may choose to receive their news from more conservative news sources just as strong Democrats or progressives may seek to get their news from more liberal news sources. Therefore, they are receiving information that is very one-sided and may demonize the other side. Professor Wilkerson added that the media understands that people love controversy. Consequently, they tend to focus on the controversial things the candidates have said and done because those stories will receive more hits than news reports on policy differences between candidates.
Identity politics have taken a more prominent role in our national dialogue since Barack Obama became president, and political parties are more defined and divided by these issues. Professor Smith pointed out that Donald Trump’s “white, nationalist” rhetoric has “really elevated these identity questions and brought them to the surface.” Professor Wilkerson added, “Donald Trump came in and validated the viewpoints of a lot of people who felt like it wasn’t ok to express their political views…So it’s not like he has caused this, rather what he’s done is he has legitimated and made it ok to be vocal about those positions.”
Following the discussion, Professors Smith, Thorpe, and Wilkerson took questions from the audience. They will continue discussing this topic on November 16th, at the Department of Political Science’s quarterly faculty panel. Joined by Professor Sophia Wallace, they will analyze election results and where we will go from here. For more information about the event, please visit our events page.
FIUTS was founded in the years after WWII, as the world was emerging from dark times, and we have witnessed countless acts of hate and fear over the past 68 years. No matter what, FIUTS has remained true to our values of friendship, courage, understanding, and compassion.
In our community, it is clear that there are a lot of questions and concerns about what the U.S. election and the rhetoric surrounding it means for the future.
The outcome of the election might not be the one many were hoping for. It might be difficult to understand how we will move forward in the face of values so different from our own. But that is what we will do.
FIUTS stands for respect between people, for the power of dialogue, for celebration of cultural diversity. FIUTS stands for peace. And that does not change. It is more important than ever.
FIUTS is very lucky to welcome two more new friendly faces in the office! Help us welcome Marilyn and Sunny to our staff this fall. Say hi to them when you see them at the front desk. Here they are, introducing themselves to the FIUTS community:
Name: Marilyn Cole
Hometown: Eugene, Oregon
Year: Graduate Student
Major: International Studies (REECAS Program)
About me: Hello, my name is Marilyn! I am a first year in the Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies master’s program. I enjoy learning about international education and the culture of international student exchange. Some fun facts about me: I am a Russian heritage speaker, I love watching TV shows, trying new foods, and I have a passion for traveling and meeting new people. I am extremely excited to join the FIUTS team! Feel free to stop by the FIUTS office to come say hi!
Name: Sunny Cai
Hometown: Shandong, China
Major: Business (intended)
About me: Hi everyone! It's great to be in a part of FIUTS family. As a people person, I get a lot of pleasure from working with groups and helping to strengthen the bonds of the people I work with in order for everyone to reach their goals. In my spare time, I love traveling, listening to hip hop music and doing exercise. I'm currently on UW boxing team and that's my favorite sport so far. I love meeting new friends and I want to get to know more of you!
Each fall, FIUTS volunteer hosts welcome more than a hundred new University of Washington students into their homes for the first 7-10 days they spend in the Puget Sound. Our hosts help students settle into their new home city, show them the local flavor, and offer them a family away from their country! Here is Zameer Mohammad, a UW student, recounting the wonderful days he spent with his hosts:
From the very first day I met Thomas and Susan Colligan at Sea-Tac International Airport, they have been nothing but extremely nice to me. Right after getting into the car, they talked about themselves and asked about me and my family. They had a lot of questions about my culture and traditions and I had a lot about theirs. I’m not used to people who were complete strangers until that moment have engaging conversations as if they knew each other from a very long time. Tom took me out to Magnuson Park. We took out his boat and fished in Lake Washington—this was on the very first day of my arrival in the city! While most of my friends were busy with setting up their new accommodations, I was already exploring Seattle! Tom and Susan took me out to grocery stores, restaurants and yacht clubs. Tom showed me around downtown and the best places to see there. On the weekend, they took me to Sequim. They even asked me to bring along a friend. We visited a shooting range and got to try skeet shooting. We even took a picture with an Olympic Gold Medallist Shooter, Matt Dryke. It was, as Tom and Susan promised, a classic American experience.
The Colligans are humble, down to earth, caring and loving. They were very considerate of my dietary restrictions due to my religious belief. Both of them were very kind and helpful to me with the daily life here. They were more than happy to answer my unending questions regarding the number plating of the vehicles, American football and politics, the national parks and everything else. They gave me their ORCA card so that I can travel around the city. They also gave me the key to their house, so that I can let myself in when they were at work. This gesture surprised me, because not many people would trust a person they’ve just met enough to give the key to their house. These are the qualities which make them such a lovely family.
I believe the best way to know about a country is through its local people. And the Colligans gave me a very good first impression of the US and its People. What I will cherish most about the ten days I stayed with them will be the long evening talks after dinner about our cultures, how different and yet how similar they are, while enjoying a bowl of Susan’s favourite ice cream. I’m glad that I chose the homestay program. Even after moving to my new place, they still invite me for dinners and trips. They treat me like one of their own kids. It’s like I have a family here, 8000 miles away from home. I’m grateful to FIUTS for this wonderful opportunity, and would recommend every incoming international student to the UW to try the homestay program.
FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over theworldwho welcome new international visitors, help organize events, and lead activities for hundreds of students each quarter. Read on to find out more about the FIUTS facilitator experience from Xiruo (Cece) Zhang!
Name: Xiruo (Cece) Zhang
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2014
Spicy food addict, life-long member of the global cat lover club, female otaku gamer with never ending curiousness towards life.
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
I joined FIUTS when I was a sophomore, and by that time, I thought it’s like a volunteering work and that’s all. However, after spending two years facilitating and participating in events, I started to realize that this is not as easy as I thought. First, yes, being a facilitator is like being a volunteer, you take your time to help other students to adapt their new life here. A lot of the times facilitators are international students who know nothing about Seattle, and you need to push yourself to ask around. Why there’s an underground city in downtown Seattle? Where is the Fremont troll? What’s the history of the Seattle Seahawks team? You will probably never know any of these if you don’t give yourself the chance to learn. So it’s not just giving out your time, but also gaining back, improving yourself as a person. Second, leadership. Every time after facilitating an event, you are asked to fill up a feedback form. It’s the best way to look back what you have done throughout the event. Have you helped students to know each other? Have you encountered any problems? What were the solutions you used? There might be some embarrassing moments during the first couple times of facilitating, but don’t worry, we all been though those. The most important thing is you practice yourself as a leader, and that matters. As time pass by, you will notice that you are getting more comfortable speaking in front of people, and even if something unexpected happens, you won’t be as nervous as you used to. That’s what we want you to be at FIUTS.
Facilitators at FIUTS Camp during the New Student Orientation
What's your favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator?
Every moment in the New Student Orientation! I’ve been as a facilitator for a while, but this year is the first time I put myself into this huge event from the first day till the end. It was busy, we had a 2-day long folding party to put together all the info sheets that are useful for 1,500+ students. It was crazy, you get to know so many students, who might just get off the plane from the other side of the planet. It was amazing, watching all those young adults traveled all the way to get to meet each other, from strangers to best friends. It was fantastic, there were tons of fun events that you can take part in, camp, football games, scavenger hunts... All these reminded me the first day I arrived at the campus, excited, upset, curious… you have to say time past so fast and now I’m no longer a freshman. Anyways, if you want to practice leadership, have lots fun, get to know lots people, you should definitely sign up for this event – I promise you won’t regret the decision.
What tips or comments do you have for peer facilitators?
1. Get prepared for whatever event you are facilitating. This is important. A lot of the times students who come to your event are new, international students, they don’t know as much as you do, and they want to know more than just the event itself. Make sure you check the emails that FIUTS’ staff sent to you after you register, they have some basic information that you should know. Except for that, Google the place you are going to, or the event you are joining, or some random places around that may help you just in case. All you do is not just for helping the students, it’s also a way to improve yourself. I’ve been in Seattle for almost 4 years and there are a tons of fun places that I will never get a chance to know if it’s not because of FIUTS.
2. Take advantages of the 15 minutes’ facilitators’ time before the start of the event. You should know each and every fellow facilitator in the group, get to know who they are, what they study, oh, and their phone numbers – I’m not kidding, you will need those. A lot of the times, especially if you are facilitating a huge event with too many students show up, you will need to separate students into small groups and take them to the place in several buses. Phone numbers are the only way to get contact with the rest of the facilitators and keep them updated. Plus, maybe someday if you want to hold a bubble tea party, you can invite them!
3. Be passionate! Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Sign up for the events! Drop by the office as long as you have time! And most important, enjoy your life <3
Check out our past Facilitator Corners:
Nail Hassairi, Sophia Chakalo, Bader Alfarhan, Peirce Kirkham, Alissa Mustre, Ang Li, Wedward Wei, Terry Jung, Hassan Almuzaini, Isabella Ning, Lucy Deng, Nhung Le, Abigail Lim, Ferris Maghi, Kevin Sander, Joey Liao, Anya Raj, Minhtu Nguyen, Jianyang (Jane) Zhang, Jialu Sun, Fleur Xuanlin Li, Jeremy Sculley, Ani Antonyan, Jaisang Sun
FIUTS is very lucky to have two new friendly faces in the office! Help us welcome Cecilia and Ian to our intern staff this fall. Say hi to them when you see them at the front desk. Here they are, introducing themselves to the FIUTS community:
Name: Zhengyun Zhong (Cecilia)
Hometown: Guangzhou, China
Year: Graduate Student
Major: International Studies (China Studies)
About me: Hi, this is Cecilia! Very happy to join the FIUTS family in this quarter. I like working with people from different places and attending various events with students. I love my international studies program and like to learn about any international related issues. As a Cantonese, I am always ready to share the Cantonese culture and good food. See you around at HUB (FIUTS office) and IMA (always try to do sports, big fan of table tennis)!
Name: Ian Yu
Hometown: Harbin, China
About me: Hi everyone! I am a freshman at the University of Washington. I am working on getting into the Foster School of Business. My intended major is marketing! In my free time, I like surfing, watching movies and hanging out with my friends. I decided to join FIUTS because I am fascinated by different cultures and want to meet new people! I am thrilled to work with FIUTS and promote international peace.
Guest post written by Muaadh Nalir, FIUTS SUSI participant, Summer 2016
It has been 2 months since I came back to my home country, Sri Lanka, but I still feel as if I have just landed back to my homeland. The cultural shocks I still get are unbelievably crazy, because I personally used to do all those things before my visit there.
Hi, my name is Muaadh, and this is my very brief view of what I think of the SUSI program. Of course with word limitations I won’t be able to jot down everything, but I will mention a few of the best moments and events which, I, felt are special.
The SUSI program was scheduled to be held in summer, and by summer a normal individual will think that the weather is going to be sunny and warm, but upon landing in Seattle I got to know it was cold even during the summer. Never the less, I was informed to bring clothes that would keep me warm. The SUSI program I attended was “Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media” hosted by FIUTS at the University of Washington.
Let me first thank the State Department for the opportunity and FIUTS for brilliantly hosting us and making sure we had everything that was needed throughout the program.
One of the major highlights of the exchange was meeting our ambassadors who are currently UW students, and have been in Seattle for over a period of one year. There were 20 ambassadors, all from different countries and background, which enhanced the cultural experience to a different level. For the 4 weeks in Seattle, the ambassador helped us through various ways, especially during our final write up for the Seattle globalist.
Meeting the ambassadors for the first time
My most favorite locations in Seattle are Gas Works Park, Golden Garden, a specific place on Lake Union and Discovery Park. Although I loved the tourist attractions or destination in Seattle like Pike’s Market, Space Needle and Mt. Rainer to name a few, the places I mentioned before would be my favorite. Seattle has given me many memories, let it be the late night walks with the other participants, seeing and touching snow for the first time (and of course having a snowball fight), watching a baseball match for the first time, late night shawarma and gyro joint and exploring different parts of Seattle, each having their own little culture. It was simply amazing that words can’t really express how much these little things meant to a guy like me.
Who wouldn't take a selfie ? With Gena Fazel (Location: Gasworks Park)
A group selfie before we hiked Mount Rainier
Apart from all this experience, some experience just gave me a reminder on how grateful I am to lead a life I have right now, and how some people struggle every day to make a good living. Sometimes we feel that volunteering and field trips can be boring, but most of the valuable life experiences were gained from them. Listening to stories of people and their life experiences, what they have done to make their and others lives better, is something that would always keep reminding me of life, and how good it is for me. There are always things that we can adapt in our lives or country, and one of the things I would love to start in my country is the food drive; collection of food and distributing it the needful. It’s quite surprising to know that every individual want to help, but doesn’t have a way to do it.
We just finished our site visit at the Seattle Times
My understanding or I would rather say misunderstanding about the homeless people and their situation was cleared off when I visited Real Change, a newspaper that is sold by the homeless people so that they can afford a living. Its only when we take the time out to talk to them we understand how wrong we are about the stereotypes we have in our minds.
After having a mixture of various types of learning I would say that my summer of 2016 was the best. I would love to thank my host family or host mom as I would say, Nancy Coomer for enriching me about her life and giving mesome useful life hacks.
With Kshitiz's and my home stay mom, Nancy Coomer
During the last week of our stay in the USA, I visited Chicago for 3 Days and Washington D.C for 5 days. The experiences in these two cities are really different to the ones I had in Seattle, but they were amazingly great as well.
Lastly I would say that I have gained a lot of experience and that I have learned a lot about the American culture, as much as I could in my stay there. Most of all I made friends and I can call them friends for life. Even though I reside in a different country I feel and know most of them are close to my heart and vice versa. Hopefully I will be packing my bags in the coming years to visit them.
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 Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media in Seattle is hosted 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.
Guest posts on the FIUTS blog represent the experiences and views of individual writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FIUTS or any organizations or institutions affiliated with our programs.