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GiveBIG to FIUTS on May 3rd!

Check out what our students are saying about the our leadership development programs and how your donation can help us help them!

Last year, more than 3,000 University of Washington students and scholars from at least 50 countries took part in FIUTS programs. From meeting new friends on local excursions to volunteering in elementary schools to practicing leadership in a safe and challenging environment, FIUTS engages both American and international students in powerful experiences that promote dialogue, understanding, and peace between people.

The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG campaign is a one-day online giving event that FIUTS will be participating in again this year. A portion of every gift made on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 to this campaign is eligible to be "stretched" through partial matching funds by the Seattle Foundation and their partner sponsors. Schedule your GiveBIG donation today!

Your generous donation help support our programs and our students. Hear what some of our students have to say about their time at FIUTS!

"FIUTS has helped me grow and develop in many ways since I joined in the September of 2014. I have not only been given the amazing opportunity of meeting people from literally all around the world, but I have also learned how to be a better friend, a better team player, and a better leader through my work as a facilitator and in the Student Board. Why does it matter? All the learning and experiences I have been provided at FIUTS has helped me land an internship that will hopefully lead to a career in my field. If there's a part of UW I want to thank for my success, be sure that it is FIUTS." - Caro Mata, Ecuador.

"FIUTS has given me a stage to learn, reflect, and apply leadership principles as well as to advocate for my beliefs with international perspective and global understanding. It's inspiring to be able to work with such a dynamic group. My senior year would not be as colorful without FIUTS." - Allan Cai, China.

"Through FIUTS, I have made friends who will always hold a special place in my heart. FIUTS made my four-year stay in Seattle much more enjoyable than I would have ever imagined." - Bader AlFarhan, Kuwait.

"Had it not been for FIUTS, I wouldn't have met some of my best friends - or should I say FAMILY - from all over the world. This organization helped me become a culturally sensitive person that loves and appreciates diversity - not to mention, it also helped my father when he went to the UW in the 1980s!" - Alissa Mustre, Mexico.

Thank you so much for your generosity and support of FIUTS programs and our students! Please help us tell your friends about us and schedule your donation today!

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Voodoo. MAX. Powell’s.

Adventurous students took Oregon by storm during Spring Break! Check out their stories!

By Henry Milander, FIUTS Facilitator

Voodoo. MAX. Powell's. So would begin a normal conversation that I might have with a person who just returned from Oregon—oops, did I mean Portland? Well, it just so happens that Portland is but one cool city in our neighborly Beaver State. VoodooMaxPowell’s is a great version of Oregon, but with my FIUTS friends I globetrotted with, clearly it’s an abridged one at best. Our trip likely falls short of the complete version of the state, but with the fun we had, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got pretty darn close.

It was wet when we met at the Burke Museum, but with 5 hours of highway marauding ahead of us, we pointed our compasses towards Eugene, Oregon. But first, I was determined to spend as much of our money as possible in our consumer taxed state, so just short of the border we pulled into Vancouver for a lovely lunch. It was short-lived, since a Portlandia fever slowly overcame us, and urged us to saddle the horses and ride hard for Eugene Whiteaker International Hostel: a great (anti-)establishment if I ever hallucinated and thought I saw one. Piano riffs, group cooking and philosophizing are the abridged version of that first night—if you want the full one, find me and let’s go!

It was our first full day at the “commune,” and with that new challenges abounded. After the Herculean test of making a breakfast with varying degrees of success, some of us tightened our belts, others loosened theirs, but we all in the end left to hike at Mount Pisgah. At times the path was winding, at others it was steep, but with perspiration a sign of our perseverance, we made it to the summit. There were lovely benches, a compass rose, topographical map statue, and a biting, howling wind.

With those memories tucked in our heads, now crowned with a bird’s nest of hair, we felt like recouping at the “Dream Farm” before striking east to Cougar Hot Springs to hike or to take a dip on the whim.

What a drive. What a rainbow. What a downpour.

With tired minds, tired souls, tired eyes, and soaked clothes, we cranked the heat up as we dropped down the mountain, over the rushing river, and through the historic bridge that spanned it. On to the merry house did we go. That very night, the great innkeepers passed down to us the hallmark dessert recipe that any outdoor escapade must end with: s’mores. Okay, pay attention. First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then you cover it with the other end. Then, you stuff.

Alackaday! All good things come to an end. It was good, and it was good that if was good, but now it’s over. And that’s good too. With those bitter-sweet words for breakfast, we packed our belongings, and joined a caravan heading to the University of Oregon, and then on to Portland. It didn’t take long after settling in the Rose City for us to sally forth downtown and go to Powell’s books, Pioneer Square and the food trucks on SW 5th.

 

Ahhh, but I am forgetting the unmemorable: Voodoo donuts at the hour of the wolf. Midnight struck just as we left on a jaunty stroll down to Voodoo, and after a nice wait in line—accompanied by the caterwauling and harassment of our new friends on the street, the homeless and disenfranchised—we sunk our teeth into the goodness that is manifested in their heretical donuts.

Let there be light!

There were no grim faces today, for we all sprung out of bed and set out early that morning to the glens, dales, and bowers of Hoyt Arboretum. After getting the skinny on the best trails, we traveled to the Redwood platform and Winter Garden, enjoying the trees and natural beauty before reaching Pittock Mansion, a lovely piece of Portland’s pioneering history. After several more viewpoints along the trail, all a little too ‘westerly’ for our newly refined tastes, we returned to downtown for books, vintage clothing shops, and more food trucks.

That night, Ilene, hereafter referred to as Fearless, gathered a car full of brave souls and took them to ride the Aerial Tram, a dodgy gondola if I ever was the inspector. But the cables held, and the brave souls saw a great transportation system and sunset over Portland. As a nod to our “Dessert Club” tradition, we went to Portland’s greatest ice cream parlor, the Salt and Straw.

The next morning we forded the river and spent on Portland’s east side. In the early hours, Fearless Ilene took some to mooch around Lloyd Center, while I took others to walk around Mt. Tabor and Clinton Park.

After seeing their beautiful trails, reservoirs, and cherry trees, my forest friends and I walked down to District/Clinton area for some shopping in several vintage shops and a Tibetan activist store (not at all awkward for the three Chinese men with me).

After lunch, our one big family met at Tillicum Bridge, which some felt like we were taking a step into the future of sustainable urban development, or just a really pretty bridge for the rest of us! Fearless Ilene took people to Hawthorne and Belmont areas for more strolling while I took a group to visit the legendary Vanilla Bicycle Workshop, a famous custom bike shop shrouded in myth. After a sweet tour and getting to see the process start to finish of a high-end, custom road bike, we all met at Reed College for an afternoon stroll.

It didn’t take long for us to have a run-in with campus security, but it turned out for the best since he armed us with the history and geography of campus! Now with a cavalier attitude, we marched around campus, took their beautiful buildings by surprise, and cantered around their lawns and the river/park/nature reserve that somehow is part of Reed’s campus too.

Dinner for some consisted of Pok Pok Thai, a great, if not confusing place to order at, while others did us one better and went to the Salt and Straw again and to the William Tell House. Divided though we were, nearly everyone rallied and went to Voodoo Donuts, again. With donuts and ice cream in our tummies, we dreamt sweetly of our last day in Portland.

I always thought the saying, “the early bird gets the worm” involves a questionable incentive. Just so for our group; with a late start we bid the hostel adieu, and set course for St. John’s Bridge, and Cathedral Park, which is located directly underneath the saintly structure.

Many of us walked out to the middle of the bridge, while a few stayed below and explored the great park. Parks parks parks. After a successful detour to Multnomah Falls and its neighbor Wahkeena Falls, we finally crossed the border for home.

I am inclined to think, however, that we left part of our home in Oregon. Now that I have looked back at the places we stayed, the people we met, and the fun times that seemed so true to Oregonian spirit, I can’t help think that we now have a home in Eugene, at Cougar mountain falls, in Portland, in the line at Voodoos, and everywhere else that FIUTS took us.

But the greatest question of them all, and one that surely encapsulates everything and anything that is quintessentially Portland, is how is it that a shop that only sells beekeeping and bee-related wares possibly be-expanding!?! We love you, Portland.

Voodoo. MAX. Powell’s.

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Facilitator Corner: Sophia Chakalo

Find out what Sophia Chakalo has learned from being a FIUTS facilitator, why she continues to volunteer and lead, and what she loves the most!

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 Sophia Chakalo.

Name: Sophia Chakalo
Country: Bulgaria
Major: Biology-Physiology
Class: 2017
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Autumn 2014

Brief Introduction

My name is Sophia Chakalo and I come from a Bulgarian immigrant family. My parents and older brother emigrated to the U.S. in 1991 after years of trying to escape Bulgaria and fleeing to Greece. They moved across America looking for the best place to live and eventually found Seattle, where my sister and I were born. We moved a lot during my childhood and even spent a year in Montana. However, we found our way back to Washington and have been here ever since.

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

To be a FIUTS facilitator is something that is so refreshing. It gives me the opportunity to connect with people from across the globe that I wouldn’t be able to meet in my daily life. It allows me to see the beauty of different cultures and the similarities that exist among them that show how everyone is so interconnected. It also gives me the chance to present my culture to elementary schools in the Seattle area which is such a rewarding experience because it allows them to learn about an unfamiliar country and it challenges me become a better speaker.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

One of my favorite moments was probably during Global Ambassador Day last year. It was the first time I presented to a large class and for such a long period of time. I was incredibly nervous because I didn’t know whether the kids would be interested in learning about Bulgaria. However, once I began I was astonished by how many questions they were asking and how excited they were to participate in all the activities. The teacher even got involved and was actively participating with the kids. It is the moment that reassured me that being a FIUTS Facilitator is worth it.

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

Some advice I would give would be to make oneself uncomfortable and ask questions. If you are able to be curious and ask questions about what you don’t understand, rather than making assumptions, there is a lot you can learn about the world and yourself.

Sophia leading an activity with elementary school students and teaching them about Bulgarian culture!

Want to be a Global Ambassador like Sophia? Come to one of the upcoming information sessions (or contact tom@fiuts.org):

Monday April 18 | 3:00pm-4:00pm (HUB 238)

Friday April 22 | 11:00am-12:00pm (HUB 307)

Tuesday April 26 | 1:00pm-2:00pm (HUB 307)

Check out our past Facilitator Corners:

Bader AlfarhanPeirce KirkhamAlissa MustreAng LiWedward WeiTerry JungHassan AlmuzainiIsabella NingLucy DengNhung LeAbigail LimFerris MaghiKevin SanderJoey LiaoAnya RajMinhtu NguyenJianyang (Jane) ZhangJialu SunFleur Xuanlin LiSaleh Alwabel, Clara Jiayao Lu, Le (Juliet) Huang,David Veth, Yili (Jacky) Chen, Jonathan Cheng, Fah Thamsuwan,Charlie Warner, Katherine Li, Nabil Sutjipto, Jeremy SculleyAni AntonyanJaisang Sun

Learn about our facilitator program here!

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Welcome Spring Interns!

FIUTS is very excited to have three new friendly faces at the front desk! Read about their Taylor Swift obsessions, love for cooking, and why they're excited to be our Spring quarter interns!

FIUTS is very excited to have three new friendly faces at the front desk, returning emails, answering phone calls, working on events and activities, and greeting walk-ins. Alissa, Aimme, and Jiaojiao are our interns this quarter and you will see them around! Here they are, introducing themselves to our community:

 

 

 

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Name: Alissa Mustre

Hometown: Mexico

Year: Sophomore

Major: Law, Societies, and Justice

About me: Hi! My name is Alissa and I'm an international student from the beautiful country of Mexico. My favorite things in life are eating, reading, exploring Seattle, feminism, peanut butter, and Taylor Swift. I'm also very passionate about human and animal rights, which is why I'm vegan and want to pursue a career as a human rights defender. My dream job is to work at the UN and Amnesty International. Some of my other dreams include travelling the world, which I feel like I can do here at FIUTS since I get to meet people from everywhere! Stop by the office and say hi! :)

 

 

 

 

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Name: Yaxu “Aimme” Zhang

Hometown: Beijing, China

Year: Senior

Major: Psychology

About me: I am an 8th-year international student from Beijing, China. I first stepped into the U. S. as a high school student in 2008. After finishing high school in Oregon, I moved to Seattle in 2012 and started my undergraduate career at the University of Washington.

I have been a facilitator since freshman year and was an ambassador for SUSI last summer. In the past 4 years, FIUTS has provided me an enormous amount of opportunities to engage in local and global communities.

Through FIUTS, I have not only fostered countless meaningful relationships with students and scholars from all over the world, but have also obtained a more complete picture of what a respected leader looks like. FIUTS has helped me to understand that a good leader is someone who recognizes, appreciates, and learns from people who are different from them in values, culture, and background.

As I finish my last quarter here at the UW, I am excited to be challenged as an intern and continue to grow with FIUTS. More importantly, I am ready to have some fun and create life-long memories with everyone! So yeah, come by the office for all the exciting events that we have! I am excited to meet every one of you! :)

PS: I’m always down for hiking or cooking!

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Name: Jiaojiao Zheng

Hometown: Chengdu, China

Year: Graduate Student

Major: Leadership in Higher Education

About me: My name is Jiaojiao Zheng, a second-year graduate student at the UW. I am an international student from China, and currently studying Leadership in Higher Education. Before I came to the U.S., I completed my bachelor's degree (Teaching Chinese as the second Language) in Beijing Normal University. During my undergraduate, I was selected to be a teaching assistant of Basic Chinese Language Course for foreign students in our university as well as a language partner for them. Working with the international students provided me with a sense of accomplishment and content, which drives me to become an intern in FIUTS, but the most important reason is that being involved in the activities and events at FIUTS last quarter gave me the opportunities to make new friends with different cultural background, which to a large extent, I hope to meet folks from different countries here in FIUTS office, and will do the best to serve both domestic students and international students with my enthusiasm and passion.

Traveling, cooking, and learning different languages are the top three things I'm passionate about in life (outside study and work). I came from Chengdu located in the southwest China, which is one of the most popular tourism cities in Asia. My hometown is known for Sichuan food, hotpot, home of panda, and so on. Another thing about me, I am a huge fan of cooking (no matter it's western or eastern food).

As a member of FIUTS office for this quarter, I am looking forward to meeting you here and seeing your smiling faces!

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Explore the World with Huan

FIUTS volunteer, Huan Lu, shares her experience in a local classroom: painting masks with the children, tasting dim sum, and, ultimately, what shocked her and what she would remember the most!

Each week, as a part of our Explore the World Program, FIUTS volunteers deliver a lesson about their home culture in local elementary schools! Check out Huan's experience in the classroom: painting masks with the children, tasting dim sum, and, ultimately, what shocked her and what she would remember the most!

Name: Huan Lu

Country: China

Major: Curriculum and Instruction

Class: 2015 Master

Presented On: Introduction of two cities (Beijing & Shenzhen). Hello and Thanks in Mandarin and Cantonese. Color words. Painting Beijing Opera Masks. Tasting Chinese foods.

Brief Introduction

I am a first-year Master student enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction Program of the College of Education. Before coming to the UW, I pursued a bachelor degree in English Language and Literatures in Beijing Foreign Studies University. Originally I am from Shenzhen, a coastal city sharing its Cantonese cultures with Hong Kong.

Why did you sign up for Explore the World?

As an international student studying education in the U.S., I have been wishing to enter an American classroom and to teach a lesson. So naturally, I didn’t hesitate to sign up when I learned that there is a chance to give a presentation on Chinese cultures.

What did you do with the students during your session?

I co-taught a lesson about two Chinese cities, Beijing and Shenzhen with another Chinese student. We introduced the history, geography, cultures and languages of the two cities. We also held several activities: painting the Beijing Opera facial masks, fighting for the colored pencils, answering quizzes for awards and tasting Chinese dim sum.

FIUTS students, including Huan, talks to Seattle students about China as a part of FIUTS's Explore the World Program.

What was one thing you really wanted the elementary students to learn about your region/country?

The thing that I wanted the children to learn about the most is that China is a huge country with diverse cultures. Different places have very distinct cultures, history and languages, and we should learn to be curious and respectful. It is my hope that the one class could plant a seed in the heart of those children, inspiring them to take a multicultural perspective when viewing the world.

What was your favorite part of, or memory from, your time in the classroom?

My favorite part was the facial mask painting section. I first taught the kids of how different colors represented different human characters in Being Opera, and then asked them to color a blank facial mask using the colors of representation. They were given the chance to imagine and envision the characters they wished to become. I was very much impressed by how creative and pure those kids were.

Would you recommend other international students to do join Explore the World program? Why?

I definitely recommend international students to join the program, especially for students from the College of Education. The program provides a great chance for us to take a glimpse of what real American classrooms is like, offering a unique perspective of the American cultures. For me, the biggest gain from this participation was that I got to learn the reality of education through my own eyes. Before, I could only learn through books, but now, with what I saw and noticed, some of the themes in the books became even more obvious and compelling.

Also, this is a wonderful platform for us, the international students, to present our countries/regions according to our own understandings. This is the charm of being the presenter, the teacher: we get to impart our knowledge, share our understandings and make our own voice heard.

Interested or want to find out more? Check out our classroom visits & programs HERE or contact tom@fiuts.org.

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In Memory of Pat Fischbach

FIUTS community member and longtime supporter Patricia Fischbach passed away on March 22nd, 2016.

FIUTS community member and longtime supporter Patricia Fischbach passed away on March 22nd, 2016. A passionate lifelong traveler, she was fond of saying that she "kept her suitcase packed and by the door," but she later recanted that if an opportunity for travel arose she would happily go without a bag.

A member of the University of Washington Faculty Auxiliary, Pat was passionate about FIUTS and enjoyed her years serving on the Board of Trustees. As a volunteer host for international students, she welcomed University of Washington students from around the world -- including Kenya, Brazil, and New Guinea.

When Pat and her husband retired in 1992, they traveled widely and remained active.

Read her full obituary and share your own memories of Pat here.

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Facilitator Corner: Bader Alfarhan

Find out why Bader Alfarhan calls the world his home, what he plans on doing after his time at the UW and FIUTS, and how he has tried to promote global understanding at peace through our community!

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 Bader Alfarhan.

Name: Bader Alfarhan
Country: Kuwait
Major: Anthropology (Minor: Education, Learning and Society; Diversity)
Class: Senior
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Winter 2013

Brief Introduction

I was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Kuwait, but I call the world my home. From an early age, I have enjoyed traveling around the world and befriending people from different walks of life. I am a jogger by day and a bookworm by night. FIUTS has been my home for the past four years. Through FIUTS, I have grown to appreciate the diversity of the student population at UW. Eventually, I would like to become a multicultural educator and work in a setting that would allow me to interact with students of various backgrounds.

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

Being a FIUTS facilitator is more than just leading events for international students or adding an additional line to your résumé. It is about being actively involved in a community that is always striving to promote cross-cultural understanding and global peace among a very diverse student body. As a FIUTS facilitator, I challenge myself everyday to find better ways to serve the community that I am privileged to be part of.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

"As a FIUTS facilitator, I challenge myself everyday to find better ways to serve the community that I am privileged to be part of."

I have always enjoyed facilitating the culture and transition small group discussions that take place during the annual International Student Orientation. I find it important for students to have a safe space to share with others their insights and concerns. Leaving home - wherever that may be – for the first time could be very stressful, but so is trying to connect with people who might know nothing about where you come from. By actively engaging with others in these forums, we gain new insights into other people’s perspectives and begin to familiarize ourselves with viewpoints that are different than our own. It makes me happy to see students leave these guided discussions feeling more confident than they were when they first walked in!

Bader hosting the Kuwaiti booth at CulturalFest Expo 2016

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

Be yourself and be kind to everyone you meet. Be honest with the people you are spending time with and keep everyone in your group - both fellow facilitators and event participants. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from others if you are confused about something or unsure about what do next. And above all, remember to have fun and a great time!

Check out our past Facilitator Corners:

Peirce KirkhamAlissa MustreAng LiWedward WeiTerry JungHassan AlmuzainiIsabella NingLucy DengNhung LeAbigail LimFerris MaghiKevin SanderJoey LiaoAnya RajMinhtu NguyenJianyang (Jane) ZhangJialu SunFleur Xuanlin LiSaleh Alwabel, Clara Jiayao Lu, Le (Juliet) Huang,David Veth, Yili (Jacky) Chen, Jonathan Cheng, Fah Thamsuwan, Charlie Warner, Katherine Li, Nabil Sutjipto, Jeremy SculleyAni AntonyanJaisang Sun

Learn about our facilitator program here!

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Join the FIUTS Student Board

Current members share their motivations for joining the Student Board, what they have gained from the experience, and why you should apply!

Current members share their motivations for joining the Student Board, what they have gained from the experience, how they became a family away from home, and why you should apply!

"We became a family, literally, a family" - Linh

Allan Cai, President

"What will I remember most about my Student Board year? All the student board members of course. It’s a pure bond that is not easily replicable in work place anytime soon in the future, a bond that’s built around our common belief--Community, Learning, Open-mindedness and Trust."

Joey Liao, Vice President

"Being on the FIUTS student board has continuously taught me the importance of reciprocity and giving back to one's community. I've learned how to bring intentions in all the work we do in order to transform the ideas into real actions that can make a difference. Being on the Student Board and working with people of such different backgrounds also make me strive to reflect on things and values that we all share and care about. It helps me understand myself and everyone around me better and ultimately encourage me to embrace and appreciate differences and challenges in life."

Linh Mai Tran, Treasurer

"Being surrounded by talented people, people come from different cultures has challenged me to think differently, to see a problem from different points of view and to constantly push myself harder. It's hard to describe my experience as a SB member in one paragraph because it is just so wonderful I never expect to be receiving so much, from leadership skills, network to support in all aspects of life. I would never have thought it is possible for 18 people from different backgrounds with different perspectives to come together and work so well with each other. I barely knew anyone on the SB and now we became a family, literally a family."

Jiaxin (Rachel) Yan, Secretary

"Working as a part of the FIUTS Student Board is not only a precious experience of learning, growing as a leader and a better communicator, but also connecting with many other excellent students from diverse backgrounds. We formed a huge family by appreciating each other's efforts into building such a strong team."

Aloe Yan, GPSS Representative

"The most important thing I learned on the SB is that it's the daily work that makes visions come true."

Saki Uwagawa, Community Programs Co-Chair

"I love that all these people, with such diverse background can come together and form a close knit family!"

Max Lo, Student Programs Co-Chair

"I will always remember the fun we have in our weekly meeting and our SB social events."

Fluer Li, CulturalFest Booths Co-Chair

"You will never be alone in SB! Whenever I had a problem, there are always multiple people that want to help. The support from each other makes me never too afraid to speak up with my problems."

Alissa Mustre, Global Gala Co-Chair

"What will I remember the most about being on the SB? The sense of community and family they gave me. I never thought I'd become so close with these people I see so frequently now. Being on the student board is basically planning amazing things with some of your best friends, it's so rewarding when we all work hard together to accomplish a goal, like CulturalFest, and seeing it all carry out smoothly. The people on the SB have become my second family. If we were friends before, now we're even better friends. And also food. Food is amazing to bond over, I think that's one of the things that has made us all great friends, we're all foodies!"

Rino Kanagawa, Global Gala Co-Chair

"I was surprised how welcoming everyone was. I was expecting more serious meetings where all we do is get things done. We do have serious moments, but there are also a lot of relaxed and fun moments as well. There aren't many opportunities in school where we can build relationships that last an entire year and the student board was an amazing opportunity to do that."

Join us! Applications are open until April 4th!

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A Refugee’s Story

Read about how FIUTS is raising awareness about refugee populations in the Middle East and check out "My Life Project" online and on the FIUTS door!

As an organization committed to cross-cultural awareness and global understanding, FIUTS is helping to raise awareness about refugee populations in the Middle East. “My Life Project” creates postcards with messages written by refugees and artwork that represents the feeling of the message. The messages come from refugees both young and old who mostly come from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. These postcards are distributed around the world to raise awareness about problems facing refugees, migrants and internally displaced people.

Earlier this month, Ru'a Al-Abweh, a graduate student in the Department of Urban Design and Planning, shared her experiences working in the Al-Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan with a 5th-grade class at Dearborn Park Elementary School. The students learned about life in a typical refugee camp and the Syrian refugee crisis in particular. Each student then received a postcard and wrote a personal message to the refugee.

FIUTS now has a collection of these postcards hanging outside the office door at HUB 206. Please stop by to look at the cards, learn more about the project and – if you have the desire – take a card and write your own message to someone. Please help FIUTS spread awareness about refugees throughout the world.

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Facilitator Corner: Peirce Kirkham

Read about Peirce's love for elephants and the Seattle rain, how FIUTS helped her become comfortable with her complicated background, and how she learned to adapt when things go wrong!

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 Peirce Kirkham!

Name: Peirce Kirkham                  
Country: USA & Japan   
Major: European Studies, Linguistics      
Class: Senior      
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2013


Brief Introduction

Hello! My name is Peirce Sakura Kirkham. I'm a senior studying European studies and Linguistics. I grew up speaking Japanese and English, and started learning French in middle school. My favorite thing about Seattle is actually the winter weather - I LOVE spending rainy Saturday mornings inside listening to music and being lazy! I also love elephants, and my favorite food is Japanese food - I've worked at two different Ramen shops in the 3 years I've been in Seattle. My family currently lives in Paris, and at first it was hard being so far away from them but luckily during my sophomore year I started facilitating and found this wonderful FIUTS family! :)

What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?

In 2012, I moved out to Seattle from Paris to start my freshman year at UW. Growing up, my family moved around and we also lived in Tokyo and Washington DC. During my freshman year, I had a hard time adjusting to UW and living back in the US again. I saw my international background almost a hindrance more than anything - my story became a bit of a hassle to explain whenever I met new people. It wasn't until I found FIUTS that I started to become comfortable with my complicated identity and background. As I continued to meet new friends, I began to realize and become grateful for the way my experiences helped shape me into who I am today. Now I love sharing my story and connecting with students who are also going through the crazy transition into university!

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

"It wasn't until I found FIUTS that I started to become comfortable with my complicated identity and background."

One of my first trips as a facilitator was the Mount Rainier trip. The bus driver had to stop halfway up the mountain because he was worried about the snow piling up at the visitor's center where we were headed. This was completely unplanned, but after a few panicked moments we decided to shuttle students from the bus to the visitor's center using the two U-Cars we had with us. It was a great learning moment where I realized how important it is for leaders to be adaptable in order to be able to handle situations where things don't go as planned. (Since then I've also learned a lot doesn't go as planned while facilitating!)

Peirce (middle, holding a green calendar) led a group of FIUTS students on a service trip at Plymouth Housing Group.

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

If I were to tell myself one thing when I started facilitating, it would be to be open and up for anything. It's ok when things don't go as planned, and sometimes it ends up being better that way! You can't predict everything and in some cases you might have to just jump into the unknown, but that will probably make the experience all the more unforgettable!

Check out our past Facilitator Corners:

Alissa MustreAng LiWedward WeiTerry JungHassan AlmuzainiIsabella NingLucy DengNhung LeAbigail LimFerris MaghiKevin SanderJoey LiaoAnya RajMinhtu NguyenJianyang (Jane) ZhangJialu SunFleur Xuanlin LiSaleh Alwabel, Clara Jiayao Lu, Le (Juliet) Huang,David Veth, Yili (Jacky) Chen, Jonathan Cheng, Fah Thamsuwan, Charlie Warner, Katherine Li, Nabil Sutjipto, Jeremy SculleyAni AntonyanJaisang Sun

Learn about our facilitator program here!

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Ogawa Award Honoree: Rica Mackert

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award is open for applications! Here is Rica Mackert, one of the recipients of last year's award, recounting where she came from and where she plans on going in promoting the relationship between Japan and the USA!

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award grants two $5,000 scholarships each year to University of Washington students who promote cross-cultural understanding between Japan and the United States through their involvement in FIUTS programs. Here is Rica mackert, anotherrecipient of last year's award, recounting where she came from and where she plans on going in promoting the relationship between these two countries!

As an undergraduate student, I was heavily involved with FIUTS and the FIUTS Student Board.  Wednesday Lunches with FIUTS were always a blast- some of my fondest memories were from spending time with friends, making that special FIUTS pickle-cheese sandwich and building new friendships and connections between our UW and international students.

I have been involved in the Japanese American community through several outlets- I participated in the Japanese Queen Scholarship Organization of Washington, which led to my winning of this coveted scholarship.  With my newfound confidence in public speaking and passion for community service, I have traveled throughout Washington and California presenting my community service platform: “Dental Outreach”.  In addition to addressing issues with dental care and underrepresented communities, I integrated these opportunities to build personal relationships with dentists, patients, and volunteers in the Japanese American Community as well.

Volunteering my time as a Board Member for the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association has allowed me to help facilitate relationships between our Seattle and Japanese communities. When not working at school in dental clinics, I also volunteered my time through Nikkei Concerns, where I assist in Nikkei Manor and Keiro nursing facilities interacting with the elderly.

All of these experiences have inspired me to pave the way to help increase understanding between the UW and Japan, and also for increasing cross-cultural understanding especially as I am preparing for my career in dentistry.  With our continuously diversifying country, language barriers make going to the dentist difficult and access to care more difficult.  With the Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award, I am looking forward to dedicating my time and passion in increasing understanding between Japan and the US, continuing to support and promote the FIUTS program, focusing on becoming a globally-minded dentist, and most importantly- follow my dream in leaving a positive impact in our community.

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award is now open for applications. Click here for more information and to apply.

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Ogawa Award Honoree: Ryan Brill

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award is open for applications! Here is Ryan Brill, the recipient of last year's award, recounting where he came from and where he plans on going in promoting the relationship between these two countries!

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award grants two $5,000 scholarships each year to University of Washington students who promote cross-cultural understanding between Japan and the United States through their involvement in FIUTS programs. Here is Ryan Brill, the recipient of last year's award, recounting where he came from and where he plans on going in promoting the relationship between these two countries!

When I was in 3rd grade, shortly after our class had finished reading the tragic story of Sadako Sasaki and her quest to fold 1000 paper cranes, a high school student from Japan visited my elementary school and taught us all how to fold paper cranes. I was fascinated by the process and in the weeks following developed something of a childhood obsession with origami. Later that same year when the opportunity to get involved with the school's pen-pal program arrived, I knew exactly which country I wanted to write to: Japan. This is how my lifelong interest in Japanese culture came to be.

After finishing my BA at Central Washington University, I moved to Seattle in order to find work. In Ellensburg, I had become very close with the international community there on campus, and quickly found the opportunity to connect and make friends with FIUTS. Though at the time I was not a student at UW, I felt welcome to participate as a volunteer and was thoroughly impressed by the variety of the events. FIUTS helped me plug in quickly, and when the opportunity to intern arose, I did not hesitate to apply.

While I had worked at UW for almost 2 years before applying to graduate school, money had remained tight. This award has given me the confidence to put my graduate education in first place on my list of priorities, and has given me a much needed head start on what I hope to be a long and fruitful academic career, as I hope to continue exploring my love and passion for Japanese culture for many years to come.

The Betty and Hiro Ogawa Award is now open for applications. Click here for more information and to apply.

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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Awaaz!

Less than three days to go until the CulturalFest Performance Showcase! Read about one of this year’s CulturalFest performers, Awaaz, a talented a capella group that combines Indian and Western music!

Less than three days to go until the CulturalFest Performance Showcase, featuring eleven performing artists from around the world on the Meany Hall stage. Read on to learn more about one of this year’s CulturalFest performers, Awaaz, a talented a capella group that combines Indian and Western music!

How did your group begin? Tell us a little bit about your story.

Started in 2009, UW Awaaz was founded by two members of the Southeast Asian community who wanted to combine Indian music and Western music. We followed the tradition of other South Asian a capella groups while continuing to create our own style by adding elements from different cultures and media. We started competing at a competition put on at UC Berkeley, and we’ve been going there ever since because we love competing.

Can you tell us how members of the group got together?

We decided to gather to go to the competition mostly and we became a competitive and performing group. There were only 9 people back then and now we have 17. The process of audition gets harder every year because many people are more interested in trying out. We try to keep our number around 17 because it is the number of people allowed within a group when we go to professional competition.

Since you're a returning group, what has performing in past CulturalFests meant to you?

What we really like about CulturalFest is that it wasn’t just an event where we go and perform. CulturalFest is more like understanding--people want to know where you’re coming from, why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It has more significance and meaning behind it. We were given the opportunity to explain where we come from and why we love doing what we’re doing. We also really enjoy watching CulturalFest, getting to see what other groups have done, getting to see different cultures all over the globe. We don’t get that at other events that specialized for a capella groups.

Awaaz performing at CulturalFest two years ago

What can the audience expect to be different this year?

We’re learning more the about the aspect of performance, versus just the aspect of singing. We really focus more on the emotions behind it. We try our best to be present and engaging on stage, to provoke emotion of joy and nostalgia from the audience. We also try to involve the audience by showing a theme, or a progression through our songs.

Can you explain more how you bring a theme into a song? And is there any theme you will be bringing to CulturalFest this year?

We try to bring our themes through every song, themes of love, power, struggle, spirituality. We try to create dynamic movement, for example, by starting off singing about a person wishing to be at a certain place, and we try our best to convey the progression of being confused to being actualized. With the lyrics, the music, the choreography and the way we arrange the song, we aim to add aspect to the progression of the story in every way we can. We not only deal with English but also with other languages that people might not be familiar with, so we wish to convey our message through lyrics, movement and expression.

Is there anything else you want the audience to know or what do you hope the audience will take away from your performance?

I really like the audience to just enjoy and relate to our songs. We deal with themes really common among people like heartbreak, moments when we feel happy and empowered and also when we’re feeling down. I hope the audience, after watching our performance, they walk out and can be like, “Oh, I am totally connected to that.”

Join us for our celebration of the diversity and talent that international students bring to our community!

CulturalFest Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online or at the door. Discounted student tickets are available for $10 in advance at the FIUTS office (HUB 206). 

Don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances.


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Getting Ready: CulturalFest Performance Committee

CulturalFest Performance Showcase is less than a week away! Our Performance Committee has been hard at work with our performers and the showcase. Here's Joey Liao, reflecting on her experience as a part of this awesome group of students!

By Joey Liao

***CulturalFest 2016 kicked off this past week with the International Expo and it will come to its flourish end with the Performance Showcase on Saturday, February 20th at Meany Hall. Doors will open at 5 PM with pre-show entertainment and interactive cultural booths, and the performances will begin at 7 PM. Tickets are on sale NOW in the FIUTS office (HUB 206) or online.***

CulturalFest has been a major part of FIUTS’s annual tradition for many decades. Every year the community comes together and puts on an international booth expo that offers us a glimpse into the different regions around the globe and a night of performances that celebrate the rich and vibrant diversity folks from all walks of life bring to the UW community. With the help from our very own volunteers (facilitators), students and staff, the countdown for CulturalFest 2016 is officially going underway and starting off right. The following post will give you a brief look of the work done by the folks from the Performance Committee behind the scenes.

The Performance Committee is responsible for all logistics behind the audition and performance process, including recruiting and coordinating performers, deciding the line-up, accommodating and communicating across different performance teams, etc. The committee does all this to make sure that the performances selected are authentic reflections and accounts of the cultures that are being represented, and also to create space for underrepresented cultures/regions/countries to celebrate their truth and talent.

Performance Committee doing a walk through at Meany Hall

The folks on the Performance Committee have worked hard from all levels and made conscious efforts to bring in a vast array of cultures and traditions. Under the leadership of Peirce Kirkham, Nhung Le and Amy Bergstrom, the team takes on great initiatives and determination, quick and efficient in communication, transforming all the great ideas into real tangible work, representing a room full of diverse folks who are fierce advocators of truth, community, open-mindedness and appreciation for difference. Through everyone’s hard work and commitment, the CulturalFest Performance Showcase will be a night filled with smiles, excitement, reflection, learning and unlearning…

 

Other committees are working just as hard as the folks on the Performance Committee. The Performance Showcase is in less than one weeks! Please spread the word and join FIUTS in the biggest celebration of diversity on the UW campus!

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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Daniel Kapellmann

Daniel will sing two popular ranchera Mexican songs, contemporary and classic.

Less than two weeks to go until the CulturalFest Performance Showcase, featuring eleven performing artists who will share cultures from around the world on the Meany Hall stage. Read on to learn more about one of this year’s CulturalFest performers, Daniel Kapellmann!

How did you begin as a performer? Tell us a little bit of your story.

I began singing when I was small, and I eventually started to take some lessons and also participated in several bands. During undergrad studies, I started singing by myself because sometimes there was no band available, and I recorded some songs by myself. As a singer for ranchera music, I have always liked it and sing casually each time there are mariachis in my home city (Mexico City). I have also participated in a couple of small singing contests and two years ago won a competition singing in French. I simply love it and love to do it each time I can as a secondary activity to my studies.

What do you hope the audience will take away from your performance? What do you hope they will learn about the culture(s) that your performance represents?

I hope they listen to good quality mariachi music, getting to know that it is not something only old and deep within the Mexican culture, but also something funny that still happens at the end of our parties with songs from the 80s, 90s and even current new songs appearing. I also want them to notice that mariachi music can be both romantic and sad, but also funny and entertaining. It shows the personality of the classical Mexican that knows how to feel but also how to have fun and make jokes.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your performance?

I have no website as a singer, but you can check me on Facebook as Daniel Kapellmann or in Twitter as @Kapellmann. You can also find a couple of singing videos on YouTube.

Join us for our celebration of the diversity and talent that international students bring to our community!

CulturalFest Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online or at the door. Discounted student tickets are available for $10 in advance at the FIUTS office (HUB 206).

Don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Join us for free cultural activities at the International Expo on Friday, February 12, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances.

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