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Expectations vs. Reality

Louise has been here nearly 2 months already! Join her for a look at her experiences so far.

Our wonderful intern Louise has been in Seattle for nearly two months! Here she shares a brief window into her personal experience, as well as some tips for other International students arriving in Seattle.

Making transitions and big changes in my life has always been something that made me a little bit nervous and anxious. To conquer that anxiety and feel more comfortable I have developed a distinct strategy that I turn to without even thinking about it; I get ridiculously over-prepared.

Before arriving in Seattle, I had figured out my housing situation, reached out to connections in the city to start getting social, had bought gifts for my hosts, started a bucket list, and had spent many hours browsing the web to get to know my new city's geography, history and sights. This level of over preparation has been very helpful to feel confident and competent in Seattle and has helped me with priorities and time management.

However there are some things you just cannot prepare for no matter how hard you try, because sometimes you don't know what things to prepare for, and learning the theory about something won't always translate into being able to apply that information in practice. Based on my academic background in English (with a lot of classes focusing on American culture and society) and my hands on experience with American exchange students in Copenhagen, Denmark, I will say that I have a pretty well rounded knowledge on America and thought I knew what to expect when I got to Seattle.

Louise relaxing by Blanca Lake

I expected and was prepared for things to be pretty different from Northern Europe, but actually my biggest "culture shock" has been to prepare for things being very different, and actually realizing that Seattle is very similar to my home environment. This may be because my previous experience with America has mostly been with the East Coast and I underestimated the regional differences, although, I myself have previously lectured friends and family on how diverse America is. It really is hard to grasp the vast scale of this country until you have spent 6 hours flying across it - you only need 20 min. to pass over Denmark, to put that into perspective.

In reality I feel so much at home here, which is a good thing, but it was not expected. Seattle is sustainability focused, liberal and progressive, the people are a bit reserved just like Danes are said to be (nobody talks to you on the bus or in the street), religion does not seem to be very prominent and the Seattleites are very focused on organic, locally grown, healthy diets just to name a few things I’ve noticed the Pacific Northwest seems to have in common with Denmark.

This has let me to think about the assumptions and preconceived notions we have about a new place before we actually get there. I think we should be aware that most of these ideas are a coping strategy that gives us a sort of security to hold on to as we are heading into unknowing territory. We have to be ready to let go of our preconceived notions and keep an open mind and bring a sense of cultural curiosity when we get to our destination and transition from expectations to reality.

I want to end with some advice that I try to keep reminding myself of even 6 weeks into my stay. The first one is to make healthy decisions for my mind and body; exercise, eat well and remember to rest. I want to experience as much as possible in my short time here, but I also know that I have to have take it easy once in a while. I'm very mindful of my sleep pattern - your sleep cycles are one of the first places that will show when you are out of balance.

Louise with fellow interns Manami (left) and Haruka (right)

The second big advice is that it is okay to be insecure about things! I want to be confident and competent, but I can't always be so and often I reach out to my colleagues from FIUTS, my host family or my new American friends and I will ask them MANY questions. Usually I will start off by saying that I'm really confused or insecure about something and I always get great help. You don't need to be an expert on your new home, bring your curiosity and never be afraid to ask questions. Most people are really friendly and accommodating and will want to help you. Who knows, you might make a friend or two along the way by daring to ask for help. Be brave, keep an open mind and take on Seattle!

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A Story of Community Working Experience

Nishat, SUSI student from Bangladesh, shares her favorite parts of the program, and a few of the things she will take with her.

Earlier 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 has written a blog post about the experience. Here's a post by Nishat Parvez from Bangladesh about her time in Seattle:

Before the SUSI program, I did not have any friend ever outside my country Bangladesh, but now I have about 40 friends from different countries. When I took the flight to the USA, I could not even imagine what experiences were waiting for me. SUSI is not only a program about leadership, it’s a program of practical experiences of life in the United States, journalism, civic engagement, community service and so much more.

SUSI- “The Study of the US Institutes for Student Leaders” is a program which is very prestigious in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India. The program is funded by US State Department. The main focus of the program is "New Media and Journalism."

The United States of America rules the world, so it is important to know about their media and Journalism. After 3 weeks of the program, I know a lot about the laws of this country; mostly 1st amendment, freedom of press, big media, new media and small media laws. New forms of media have brought a great change in the old media of US like QUOW Radio, Seattle times, and even local papers like the Eatonville Dispatch. One example I found rather astonishing was the ‘Puget Sound Off’ blog, which is regularly monitored to provide police with information used to improve Seattle’s security.

I came to know about the diversity of US society with interviews with different types of people in the city. I also learned this through my South Asian mates, FIUTS Staff and other SUSI Ambassadors from different parts of the world.

I learned how to communicate with people from different countries. From my childhood I have easily been able to become friends with any people with my communication skills. But in the US, I found that when I went to speak, people do not always catch my language, often because of the pronunciation differences. I was astonished at this. In my country, I have to use my mother tongue for studying. So I have some problems with this language. But day by day, I have come to realize I can speak about any subject using English. It's improving!

 

Nishat (red backpack) & other SUSIs outside of District Market

All the participants are living in the University of Washington campus. So I know the campus life. I also lived in my campus dormitory, but there boys and girls have to live in separate building. I feel like a UW student as I have to take my food from the Local Point (a cafeteria on campus) and shop at the District Market (a campus grocery store) with a “Huskycard.”

We had to do community services in a food bank, and at a community farm. We also worked in a street newspaper called Real Change. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. The newspaper has changed the life of their homeless workers. When two workers told about their lives living on the street,  and about their new lives, I could not control my emotions.

I can’t possibly capture everything about my experience in just a single story, but I want to share my experience about the food bank. I think all my SUSI friends were writing something about this. The concept of food bank is very new for me.

 

SUSI Participants at Marra Farm (Photo by Nishat Parvez)

We have some community based food delivering or some food truck program, but it is very uncommon back home. The foods at the food bank in Seattle, mostly vegetables and fruits, come there from the community farms, and we also visited such a farm. Its name was Marra Farm. So I have two experience based on food and agriculture, one is food bank and another is community farming. There are many volunteers in those places. We have just youth volunteers back home, but there are so many elderly volunteers here. I also found a lady who seemed a lot like my grandma. I told her that she seemed like my grandma, and she praised me a lot. Tom, one of the FIUTS staff, took us to the food bank and helped us a lot. We made some sandwiches there. Then we took all the things down from the truck and  loaded them inside the food bank . It was a whole bunch of team work. You have to make everything done with teamwork. You can help each member in a team to get all your work done. I learned this from the food bank service. Helping others is often necessary to complete your own job. It's an amazing skill of leadership.

There was another cross cultural experience in the food bank. I know some Spanish, so I spoke with the Spanish-speaking people. There are so many people who come to the food bank. Most of them are not native English speakers, and many can’t understand English well. We had to use gestures with our hands or show them numbers on our fingers to tell them the quantity of items they could take. This is one of the very old tricks, but it enhanced my concrete skills of leadership. Through this food bank experience I learned about civic engagement and community service.

Every group work project and every class has enhanced concrete skills in critical thinking and communications. With these projects and classes we learned about the media’s influence on social and traditional levels.

Oh I forgot to give thanks the SUSI ambassadors, and applicants. Thanks to all of you guys. You just make my life 'happily ever after'. I again opened my twitter account after come to Seattle. It helps me keep up with the new media's challenge to flourish.

By the way, I want to use all my leadership skills, communication phenomena and new media experiences back home. I learned the theme "don’t go back when challenges come, try to face them." Without facing the obstacles in your path, you will never get to your desired destination.

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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 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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