FIUTS is very lucky to have a new friendly face in the office! Erika is our newest intern from Japan and will be helping out with orientation this fall. Say hi to her when you see her around! Here she is, introducing herself to the FIUTS community:
Name: Erika Suzuki
Year: Junior at Tokyo International University
About me: Hello! My name is Erika Suzuki. I am from Yokohama in Japan. The scenery in my hometown is kind of similar to Seattle, so I am comfortable to be in Seattle. Last year I had been studying for 10 months in Oregon, then I came to Seattle for a vacation. It was fun so I love Seattle. I like traveling, watching movies, going shopping, and playing basketball. I am very happy to have an opportunity which I work outside of my country and help international students. I am always welcome to talk so come to say hi when you see me.
FIUTS students kicked off the summer with a camping trip to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest! Read on to hear more about the experiences of 3 FIUTS facilitators!
You never know exactly what you’re going to see when you go camping. Like every other American style camp, I enjoyed the campfire and barbecue and games, but at midnight, many of us decided to go down by the river and see the stars. Well, it wasn’t easy to navigate our way over rocks in the dark to get there, but we made it. I personally didn’t know that I could see many different stars than I am used to seeing just because we are in the North West. I couldn’t stop looking at the sky with everyone else. Every once a while, a comet would cut a pretty line through the tapestry of stars. All of us were trying to get pictures, but I gave up. I thought no picture would be as amazing as seeing the stars in such a dark place away from the city lights.
The next day we drove to the hiking location. In the car, I started asking a few riddles and everyone in the car was trying to solve them. They were really good; they spent whole time trying to solve the riddles. It was like a competition. I should admit that they also asked some riddles and some of them were difficult to me.
Hiking in the snow is always fun for me when the weather is sunny. Although it sometimes makes it a bit harder to hike, the snow is very beautiful. I couldn’t imagine how beautiful the view of Cascades would be at the top until we got there. It was really gorgeous. And among the beautiful mountains, the perimeter of the Hidden Lake could be seen. I guess we spent about one hour there just enjoying the pretty landscapes. One of the main things that makes me want to go back to Hidden Lake Lookout is sliding over the snow. On our way back down, we slid over the snow on our backs. I would never have thought about that when we started the trip.
“No one will die from stick germs!” I told them, “I’ve been roasting marshmallows with sticks off the ground all my life. Hasn’t killed nobody yet.” Like every other FIUTS trip I’d ever facilitated, I’d forgotten the skewers. I feel like it’s a pretty American thing to roast with sticks. I mean, just the week before I was on a rafting trip that included a fireside BBQ, they didn’t bring skewers, but nobody hesitated to grab sticks when it came time for s’mores. So bringing the skewers is just one of those things that I fail to think of every time, but never fails to cause irritation. Hesitant at first, everyone soon found a suitable stem with which to roast and nothing more was made of it. I still should have brought the skewers, but a part of me is glad that I didn’t. I don’t want to impose, but at least I was pushing people outside their comfort zones, right?
I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about that moment, but I really think it represents a careful balance one must strike as a facilitator on such a trip. On one hand, I want to share my culture and push people to try new things while they are here. On the other, I don’t want to force anyone to do something that they really don’t want to, or present my way of doing things as better than theirs. It’s a dilemma I’ve run into a lot. I can’t possibly know how to handle every possible situation perfectly, but the aforementioned incident helped me think up a useful rule of thumb: always encourage people to try roasting with a stick, but don’t forget to bring the skewers.
If you have not done american camping than you should try this at least once. I was facilitating this event, but I was also a firsttime American camper. Part of being a firsttimer is that you will be very enthusiastic and ready to face new situations and adventures. I was really amazed by the way American forest department and people maintain the camp sites. It was really close to river and best part is shallow cold white water (almost melted ice) the best for relieving your stresses after a long drive. I have never dived in such cold water other than once (in the Ganga [Ganges] river Holy river for Indians I did it as a religious ritual), but me and Kevin decided to make it an adventure. This experience was unforgettable and remarkable.
If you know how to make Indian tea, especially when you are camping (chill air, light sunlight, nice people), tea time will make morning golden for you. I made enough for 40 people, still we finished it among 22 (except for Kevin who was so impressed with the cold water dive that he missed the tea for a morning swim!). Tea helped us all wake up in the early morning after a late night of games and star watching and prepared us for the for best hike at Hidden Lake.
Friends and memories are what I got from this camping trip. Only student life can give you these moments, so don't miss opportunities and build stories for the future.
Join FIUTS in our events throughout the year! Check out our Calendar of Events. See you soon!
This week, we are saying goodbye to Danika, Student Programs Coordinator, who is off to a new adventure in New Zealand! Over the past 2 years, she has worked with hundreds of students, training new facilitators, managing interns, planning and leading programs and activities, and much much more! To say goodbye and thank you, we asked these students to write messages to her. THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK, DANIKA!
Danika is such a nice, friendly, warm lady that I feel I'm encouraged to share my experience with. I attend so many of the events that she planned. This summer, I attended almost all of the Friday events that she arranged for us. They are fun, and also gave me a change to meet so many wonderful people. Facilitating these events with the support of you guys let me feel the joy for sharing. -Ang Li
Through the past two years, I received so much help from you and I changed a lot through all the opportunities you created for us! I really appreciate how you always trust all the facilitators and advocate for us and create new opportunities for us. I have to say, the best part of facilitating for FIUTS is that I got to work with people like you who can always make a positive impact in one's life. I hope you have a great trip to New Zealand, Danika! -Jane Zhang
Danika, you are amazing! You and FIUTS will for sure be part of my most cherished college memories. I wish you well as you start your new adventures in New Zealand. -Ian He
I am sad that you will not be with us next year. Although I have known you for only a year, you and FIUTS have become my family at UW. I will miss you a lot! I am also glad that you decided to go on a new journey. I hope that you will enjoy your adventures in New Zealand, and have tons of fun and memories there. Don't forget to take a lot of photos and share with us. If you find something interesting, let me know. Last but not least, keep in touch! We all will miss you so so so so so so so so so so much ! And Thank you for everything! :) -Tiffany Le
Thanks for everything, Danika! You're the bee's knees! -Fatih Thompson
Danika was one of the first people I met a FIUTS and she has the most incredible communication skills of any person I've ever met. Her ability to get people talking and create meaningful discussions makes her so special in this world! She inspired me to have more patience and ask people really good questions. I've always felt so comfortable coming up to her in the office and saying hello. We had many fun chats each time we talked. Danika is genuinely kind and was such an amazing member of the FIUTS community. Even though I've graduated, she is one of the leaders I will always remember from my university experience. -Masha Demyashkevich
Hi Danika, thank you for all the wonderful work at FIUTS! We are so grateful to have you as our leader and colleague! I am extremely honored to get to know you at my first facilitator training. Your passion and devotion brought so much positive energy to the organization! Wish you the very best with your new journey! -Wenjie Li
Danika, you were the first person I met at UW even before I started my classes there, and you have been since then an inspiration to me! I always wonder how you can be so energetic and amazing :) You are always there, welcoming with a bright smile to help anyone. It has been great being a facilitator and working with you. I wish you all the best in your next journey, and hope to stay in touch! -Jessica Pal
Thank you for being so much fun to work with! I really appreciate your help and support. Good luck for your new adventures! -(Leo) Wanxiang Cai
Danika, thank you for always being so helpful and having such positive energy with FIUTS! Good luck on your epic adventures! -Joslyn Cal
Hey Danika, It is really hard to believe you are leaving FIUTS. It was a great pleasure for me to know you and every single member of FIUTS family. I really enjoyed a lot participating and working with FIUTS. This is because of the great jobs you guys are doing and specially you. I don’t remember any event you haven’t been involved with the most positive attitude, motivation and planning. Thanks for being such a great program coordinator. Although it’s really sad to say goodbye, but I hope wherever you are, you’ll always be happy. -Kamal Ahmed
Danika! Can't believe you are leaving! I really enjoyed your bright smile and your positive attitude. Now matter what you decide to do I believe it will be a good choice for you. You will be awesome no matter where you go. Keep in contact and maybe I will visit you in New Zealand one day!! :) -Yunqian (Waterlily) Huang
It has been great two years since I got to work with you. You are such a passionate and considerate person. Always have our backs and you are the best! Have a great time in NZ and hope to see you again soon! Thank you for all your help! -Lucy Deng
I have no words to describe how you will be missed, especially those warms HI at the office and the messages in Spanish! -Michel Riquelme Sanderson
Danika, it's been such a pleasure working with you these past two years. You will truly be missed by the FIUTS community! I will miss your positivity and unwavering sense of humor. I wish you all the best in your next chapter. May our paths cross again. -Bader Alfarhan
There are 1,025,110 words in the English language (according to Google), and I cannot find the words to express my gratitude for all you've done for FIUTS and our beautiful world. I'm proud to call you my mentor and friend. We will all miss you so, very much! Keep changing the world!!!!! -Alissa Mustre
Thank you so much for everything you've done for FIUTS. All of your hard work has brought thousands of students together, so thank you for welcoming me and many others into the FIUTS family! We will miss you! -Sarah Duncan
Thanks for all your effort Danika. You managed an organization that brings international students from all background together in unity for a wonderful experience and I'm very grateful to have met you and worked with you because you are truly an awesome person. I pray that you continue to achieve success in all you do, Amen. -Ginika Anozie
Hi Danika! I just wanted to say thanks! FIUTS is great is because you inspired people to try new things, it was one of the reasons why I kept coming back to FIUTS. I still have many memories of FIUTS because of you, and even though I wasn't able to volunteer with you one last time, I hope you enjoy your adventures abroad in your new life. I had a lot of fun getting to know you. Bye!!! -Terry Jung
You are my best boss!! Thanks to your advice and help, I got great experience and confidence. I'll miss you when I visit FIUTS office, but I'm glad that you have new adventures:) -Yurie Noda
I hope you enjoy New Zealand as much as so many international students have enjoyed the US thanks to you and your pals at FIUTS :) -Nail Hassairi
Hi Danika! Thank you for all the wonderful work you did during your time at UW FIUTS. Your efforts behind the scenes made sure all the participants had a wonderful time at the events. The enthusiasm and guidance you provided us facilitators have always been like a glue that kept the facilitator community together like a family. If I was even a slightly good and fun facilitator, it was thanks to the coaching you have provided us during the facilitator orientation and meetings. You will be missed, and your work here will surely continue to make a positive impact on this community after you leave. Have fun in New Zealand! Please visit the Shire for me :) -Furkan Ozunal
Thank you for all that you've done for FIUTS and the students in the past couple years. Your dedication and passion in creating an inclusive and cohesive community for students have truly inspired me to become more caring and supportive for all that are around me. Have a blast in New Zealand and keep impacting others around you! Can't wait to see and hear about this exciting journey ahead of you! -Aimme Zhang
I remember you were one of the first people I met in FIUTS when I first came around! It will be hard to imaging FIUTS without you now, but I am so excited and wishing you all the best for your new adventures in New Zealand! -Peirce Kirkham
By Kamal Ahmad, FIUTS Facilitator
At the end of May our international students took a trip to San Juan Island through FIUTS. Here's our facilitator, Kamal's, reflection on the Global Getaway!
One thing I always remember from any FIUTS trip is that at the end, I have a lot of new friends. But it is different from making friends that you see and hang out with all the time. Together, you explore a small piece of the world with people from different cultures and perspectives. It’s as if our destination takes on a little bit of the beauty of each participant's homeland just by their presence. When we started San Juan Island Global Getaway, everyone was a stranger to me. It only took us the time we spent in the car to get to know each other and enjoy being together. In fact, some of us started a series of camping and hiking and hang outs together after this trip and even today we see each other a lot.
"Together, you explore a small piece of the world with people from different cultures and perspectives."
The beauty of San Juan Island was only eclipsed by the fun we had together. We spent a lot of time waiting for Orcas, but we weren’t lucky enough to see any. However, no one paid a lot of attention to this since there was much more to see on this amazing island. We traveled to American Camp and British Camp, learning about the disputed history of the island. In Roche Harbor we explored a sculpture garden and watched bald eagles. And at South Beach, we enjoyed sunset and cooked dinner over a campfire. We could even spot Mt Rainier in the distance from our spot on the beach. Throughout the island, wildlife like deer, seals, and birds made the environment come alive. So many aspects of this trip live in my memory, that it is hard to recount them all. But I will never forget the people that I was with and how they made it all so worthwhile.
Join FIUTS for Global Getaways! Check the calendar for more information or contact email@example.com
We are so thankful for our hosting community at FIUTS! Hosts come from around the world, live all over the Puget Sound region, and range from first-time volunteers to hosts who have been welcoming students to their homes for decades. This summer, we had two short-term hosting opportunities for visiting programs, Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media (SUSI) and Seattle Language and Culture Institute (SLCI). Both participants and hosts had unforgettable weekends and have so many stories and photos to share!
Take a look at the weekends our local hosts and international participants spent together all over the Puget Sound and join our hosting community today!
They spent time outdoors..
Learned new games...
...And developed new and lasting friendships from all over the world!
Here's what home stay participants and hosts had to say about their experiences!
"Questions and curiosity of how an American family is gave way to fun and satisfaction once I entered Lanaya and Zach's lovely home. With two dogs, three cats and two adorable little boys - Eli and Ike, their home was filled with happiness, laughter and glee. Lanaya and Zach were hosting for the first time, I heard, but I couldn’t believe so. They were very warm, welcoming and accommodative and shared so many insights about American culture, education, politics and everything. A hearty thanks to them for an unforgettable and enriching experience" - Ananya, participant from Chennai, India
"We loved hosting Upakar. We learned about Nepal and some of the customs there. More importantly, I gained hope that with intelligent, caring young leaders like Upakar, our world will be a better place for future generations. Upakar wants to go back to Nepal to help his country, countering the trend of "brain drain." On top of that, he was a delight to have around and as a role model for our son" -Barbara, homestay host
"Sarika and Shail shared many stories about life in their countries. This gave us a new perspective on every day life in Southeast Asia. They brought us hope that their generation will make the world a better place. We now have two more wonderful family members who we can love and follow for the rest of our lives. THANK YOU!" -Stuart, homestay host
Interested in a rewarding experience with international students this August and September? We are actively looking for hosts to welcome students into their homes for a short-term stay! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or if you're a new host, fill out an application today!
Every quarter, FIUTS is lucky enough to have interns and work study students who help us with all kinds of tasks in our office while having an opportunity to meet people, gain work experience, and learn about international education. We are lucky to have Aleassa and Catherine with us this summer working on orientation and visiting programs! Say hi when you see them around! Read on to learn more about them:
Name: Aleassa Wren
Hometown: Chehalis, WA
Major: Socio-cultural Anthropology
About me: I am a senior at University of Washington studying Socio-cultural Anthropology. Upon completion of my bachelors degree I hope to work with refugee resettlement or with immigration reform. In my free time I like to play tennis, hike and watch "The Office" . I decided to join FIUTS because I love to meet people and learn more about various cultures.
Name: Catherine Rock
Hometown: Short Hills, NJ
Year: Graduate Student
Major: International Education
About Me: Hi, my name is Catherine and I am a graduate student at SIT Graduate Institute studying International Education. I grew up in New Jersey and went to college in Baltimore at Loyola University Maryland. There I studied abroad for a semester in Ghana. In my free time, I like reading, watching Netflix, watching baseball, and hanging out with my friends. I love working with international students and meeting new people so I am very excited to be working with FIUTS this year and I can't wait to explore more of Seattle!
Every quarter, FIUTS is lucky enough to have student interns who help us with all kinds of tasks in our office while having an opportunity to meet people, gain work experience, and learn about international education. Cece and Keiki are two of our summer interns. Say hi when you see them around! Here they are, introducing themselves to our community:
Name: Xiruo (Cece) Zhang
Hometown: Tianjin, China
About me: Hi there! My name is Xiruo, go by Cece if you don't know how to pronounce my Chinese name-- a lot of people don't so no worries ;) I'm a senior student at UW, major in Applied Physics, and minor in Mathematics. I've joined FIUTS as a facilitator for almost 2 years, and I learned a lot more than just leadership. FIUTS provides a great chance meeting new friends from all over the world, it's such an amazing experience knowing people that have similar interests as you but with a completely different background. During free time I like to stay outside when the weather is nice, exploring new places and food around Seattle area. However if it's raining, which happens quite a lot, I like to watch anime at home and play online games like League or Overwatch with friends.
Name: Keiki Hatsuiwa
Year: Junior at Japanese University (came to Seattle last September)
Major: International Business/Marketing
About me: Keiki is an international student at Bellevue college and studying international business there. He is from Japan and came to Seattle last September. This is his first time studying broad, so it is a big fun and challenge for him. He wants to communicate with many people from all over the world and learn their cultures, which is why he decided to join FIUTS. In his free time, he likes playing/watching sports, especially basketball. He went to Los Angeles to watch Kobe's game on last winter vacation. He also likes watching TV shows and movies and eating food.
Thanks to our awesome interns for supporting FIUTS with all your hard work!
We love our homestay hosts and are proud to have a big and diverse hosting community! FIUTS hosts come from around the world, live all over the Puget Sound region, and range from first-time volunteers to hosts who have been welcoming students to their homes for decades.
Our Host Profiles recognize and feature the wonderful hosts in our community whose generosity means the world to our students. Here's Walt and Deb, sharing their story of what hosting means to their family!
Name: Walt Cannon and Deb Slivinsky
Location: Greenlake, Seattle
How long have you hosted students through FIUTS? First time was about 10 years ago
What countries have you hosted students from? France, Germany, Romania, Britain, and Holland
What made you decide to be a host? Deb and I have lived and worked overseas a couple of times and always counted on the kindness of locals to help us get settled in. Additionally, it is a great way to make continuing international connections.
"[Hosting] just continues to reinforce what we learned in our own living and travelling overseas….People the world over have a lot more in common than they do differences." - Walt Cannon
What’s your favorite local place to bring your host students? We love to take them for a walk around Greenlake on a nice day to see Seattleites of all persuasions out enjoying themselves.
What’s your favorite activity to do with your host students? I am a pilot and love to take them flying around the Puget Sound. Most have never been in a general aviation plane and are amazed by the beauty of our area.
Has a host student ever cooked a dish from their home country to share with you? If so, what did they make? Not really :)
What is your all-time favorite memory of hosting an international student? Taking a German student who was studying to be an airline pilot to a small country fly-in. They were delighted and could not believe the variety of private airplanes and freedom American pilots have.
What's your favorite part of U.S. culture to share with your host students? The freedom, opportunity, and diversity of thought that we have here in the US. Foreign students, if they have not traveled widely, might have a fairly narrow view of what the US is like. It may be heavily influenced by negative headline news and pop culture. Deb and I love showing them that though that is real, there are many other aspects of life in the US.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned from your hosting experience? It just continues to reinforce what we learned in our own living and travelling overseas….People the world over have a lot more in common than they do differences.
Have you stayed in touch with any of your host students long-term? Definitely…We have had an opportunity to both meet family members here in Seattle when our students returned and have had chances to visit them in their own country. At the moment we are making plans to visit our last Dutch student at his home when we are cycle touring there later in the summer.
Past Host Profiles:
Interested in a rewarding experience with international students this summer or fall? We are actively looking for hosts to welcome students into their homes for a short-term stay! Contact email@example.com for more information or fill out an application today!
Though the University of Washington campus is quiet today now that the school year is officially over, things are as busy as ever in the FIUTS office! In addition to preparing for International Student Orientation in the fall, we're also working hard to get ready for our three summer visiting programs: the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders (SUSI) in Journalism and New Media, the Seattle Language and Culture Institute, and the Youth Ambassador Program with the Caribbean.
We're excited to welcome two temporary staff members who will be with us this summer as part of our team for these programs. Meet our two new program assistants, Bennett and Qanani!
Name: Bennett Anderson
Hometown: Winfield, West Virginia
Year: Graduate Student
Major: Public Administration
About Me: I have been enthusiastic about international community building since I was a high school student studying Japanese. I went to Salem International University in Salem, West Virginia for my undergraduate degree and then served in Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have also visited Ireland twice and went to Kathmandu, Nepal for a week during my Peace Corps service. I love meeting people from different cultures and learning about different languages. I am also very dedicated to public service and will be starting a Nonprofit Management Certificate Program this fall. When not trying to spread international understanding and cooperation I love to make craft projects, grow plants, play tabletop games, and go look for adventure.
Bennett will be working with the SUSI and YAP Caribbean programs.
Qanani Kalil was born and raised in Ethiopia. She is a second-year graduate student at the University of Washington, studying higher education policy and leadership. She is currently a Graduate Student Assistant for Pipeline Project, a K-12 educational outreach program at UW. Qanani is really passionate about education and youth empowerment. She has worked with students as a tutor and a mentor for over three years and has always had a passion to motivate and empower young people to strive and succeed.
Qanani will be working with the SUSI program.
The school year is winding down, but FIUTS is gearing up for a busy and fun summer. We’ll be welcoming students to our visiting education programs (SUSI, SLCI, and YAP Caribbean) while preparing to welcome more than 2,000 new international students to the University of Washington in the fall. If you are planning to be in town to enjoy the fabulous Seattle summer (shhh…it’s our best-kept secret), join in on the FIUTS fun. Our great opportunities for involvement include:
Become a SUSI Ambassador (June 22-July 16)
The Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders in Journalism and New Media program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, brings 20 undergraduates from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Nepal to Seattle. SUSI Ambassadors are University of Washington students who volunteer for the FIUTS SUSI program and receive training and experience in leadership, planning, teamwork, and citizen diplomacy. SUSI Ambassadors join in amazing leadership and social activities (including a Mariners baseball game, a visit to the Space Needle, a service project, the closing ceremony, and more!) and become part of an incredible SUSI family. Apply now!
Be part of the Orientation Committee (All Summer)
FIUTS Fall International Student Orientation is a 10-day program designed to welcome and support new international students at the University of Washington in their transition to the campus and community. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of people and work to put on a program of this magnitude. The Orientation Committee will become experts on orientation events and help create a great environment for the team of facilitators who will be working throughout orientation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in being part of the committee.
Join the Facilitator family (Any Time)
Facilitators are the students who make the FIUTS magic happen. Facilitators help students build connections, foster international awareness, and share their culture, all while making new friends and building their leadership skills and resume. All it takes to become a facilitator is to fill out an application and attend a new facilitator orientation. New facilitator orientations happen every couple of weeks; watch the FIUTS calendar for the dates. Start facilitating this summer and you can be part of the fun at Fall International Student Orientation.
We look forward to seeing you around this summer!
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 Nail Hassairi.
Name: Nail Hassairi
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2014
An alien paying taxes. Addicted to American Dream. Foolhardy, foolish.
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
To be a FIUTS facilitator is to be a gate-keeper, a bouncer, the bellboy, the waiter, a friend, a guide, a medium through which the values of mutual respect, tolerance, friendship are being offered to whoever steps in the door.
Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
I'll break with the tradition and say something about the participant experience. In 2009 I arrived in Seattle, USA. I had traveled a bit before. Italy, Italy and some Italy. I had meting random people a bit before too. In college. Volunteering. There was something strangely seductive about landing far, far away and not having the slightest idea what will happen next. Half-Tunisian, half-Czech, I always felt a bit foreign pretty much everywhere. An Eastern European, huddled masses. I felt exuberant. I was a bit afraid, coming to US for one quarter (I was an exchange student) surely would have felt like taking the red pill and then having to go back to the Matrix. I spent much time preparing for this, mostly learning English and preparing academically. Socially, I was very much unprepared. Cataclysmic changes in the world order have hurled my country back into the open world and for everyone there was suddenly much catching up to do. I grew up on cultural artifacts that made it to my country 10-15 years after they debuted in the US. Fear, admiration and envy are the feelings of choice among my countrymen when it comes to the US. Cultural shock was an inevitability. I did not really expect one, I had thought that US and Western Europe are pretty much the same thing. Still, exuberance was the strongest feeling I had. First time flying more than 3 hours in a plane. First time spending more than 4 weeks away from home. First time living by myself. First time in an Anglophone country. First time crossing the Atlantic, first time leaving the Afro-European-west-Asian space. Sky was the limit. And it was. I met some wonderful people, Betty Voigt, Rosie Icban were among the best but there was a truck-load of awesome people. And vast majority of them were from FIUTS. FIUTS has almost monopolized my exchange student experience and I was lucky that was the case. The FIUTS community has no agenda except international peace and understanding. The FIUTS community is non-judgmental, low barrier. The FIUTS community is diverse and culturally rich. So much so that when I came back for my graduate program one year later and tried to branch out into the Seattle community proper I was very disappointed and dissatisfied. I realized I had been taking FIUTS for granted. That all these values, this warm embrace, unconditional love are not a naturally occurring phenomenon or aspect of Seattle culture but a product of hard work and much effort on the part of the FIUTS staff and community. The world outside of FIUTS was much harder to navigate. Parceled by religion, ethnicity, professional aspirations, the world outside of FIUTS moved with a much stronger sense of purpose, with business-like relationships, with agendas, open or hidden. Quid pro quo. The law of the jungle. The spirit of competition. The hard work. The sharp elbows. The practiced salesman's pitch. The painfully projected persona of confidence. The rat race. The insecure ignorance. The 'real' America felt a bit different than the stuff of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beverly Hills 90210 that I grew up with. I still think that the US is the most fascinating country in the world and that's because whenever my experience felt a bit scary, whenever I was having the blues or the mean reds FIUTS was like a safe harbor where I was always welcome. Also, FIUTS is a truck-load of fun. Betty was like the most social person I have ever met and she took me to so many events and even if I felt a bit shy or self-conscious about being from Eastern Europe she helped me ease into it. This is me, one big paragraph and no story:)
Tips/comments for peer facilitators
I am the most impractical person, facilitating with FIUTS is made fool-proof easy by the FIUTS staff. It's also made fun by the participants. I was worried at first that people would judge me on whether I am doing a good job or not but everyone is relaxed, everyone is just trying to have fun and make the most of the amazing time.
Check out our past Facilitator Corners:
Sophia Chakalo, Bader Alfarhan, Peirce Kirkham, Alissa Mustre, Ang Li, Wedward Wei, Terry Jung, Hassan Almuzaini, Isabella Ning, Lucy Deng, Nhung Le, Abigail Lim, Ferris Maghi, Kevin Sander, Joey Liao, Anya Raj, Minhtu Nguyen, Jianyang (Jane) Zhang, Jialu Sun, Fleur Xuanlin Li, Jeremy Sculley, Ani Antonyan, Jaisang Sun
We love our homestay hosts and are proud to have a big and diverse hosting community! FIUTS hosts come from around the world, live all over the Puget Sound region, and range from first-time volunteers to hosts who have been welcoming students to their homes for decades.
Our Host Profiles recognize and feature the wonderful hosts in our community whose generosity means the world to our students. Here's Karene Busby, sharing her story of what hosting means to her and her daughter!
Names: Karene and Faylynn Busby
Location: Redmond, WA.
How long have you hosted students through FIUTS? 3 or 4 years, but another 4 years with other exchange programs.
What countries have you hosted students from? Serbia, China, Vietnam, Philippines and Antigua.
What made you decide to become a host? We saw a road sign asking for host parents for incoming exchange students. Since we had an extra bedroom, I asked my daughter if we should give it a try. Well, after 8 years, it seems we keep on “trying” every year or so.
What's your favorite local place to bring your students? Alkai Beach.
What's your favorite activity to do with your students? Search for starfish.
Has a host student ever cooked a dish from their home country to share with you? If so, what did they make? It’s a requirement at our house! I can’t remember what our Chinese boys made but I do remember that they CALLED one of their Grandmothers in China for help and then asked her to stay on the computer so they could continue getting directions.
What is your all-time favorite memory of hosting an international student? A couple of years ago, I received an e-mail from one of our first exchange students from China. He had clearly stated the date, flight arrival and hotel where he and his parents would be staying in for a few days. The problem was - I had NO IDEA that he had arranged their visit with my daughter. Hans wanted his parents to meet us and I really think he wanted to see my daughter! Our weekend plans were quickly changed and a new memory builder was formed.
What's your favorite part of U.S. culture to share with your host students? Having pets. Almost all of our students haven’t been around dogs - let alone dogs that are allowed to sleep in our beds. Within a day or so the kids usually ask if they could take Xander out for a walk or if he could sleep on their beds too.
What's the best thing you’ve learned from your hosting experience? That I had no idea I had so many “adopted” sons/daughters in my life.
Have you stayed in touch with any of your host students long-term? Facebook is fantastic way to stay in touch. As I mentioned earlier, one of the kids came back to visit us from China with his parents for a weekend. I believe currently there are 3 or 4 of the kids attending different universities somewhere in the U.S. And we’ve been asked if we could visit them or we've invited them to stay with us. Also, there’s a good chance our “adopted” son from Philippines might attend UW and will stay with us!
Interested in a rewarding experience with international students this summer or fall? We are actively looking for hosts to welcome students into their homes for a short-term stay!. Contact email@example.com for more information or if you're a new host, fill out an application today!
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!
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.
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
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Autumn 2014
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 Alfarhan, Peirce Kirkham, Alissa Mustre, Ang Li, Wedward Wei, Terry Jung, Hassan Almuzaini, Isabella Ning, Lucy Deng, Nhung Le, Abigail Lim, Ferris Maghi, Kevin Sander, Joey Liao, Anya Raj, Minhtu Nguyen, Jianyang (Jane) Zhang, Jialu Sun, Fleur Xuanlin Li, Jeremy Sculley, Ani Antonyan, Jaisang Sun
Learn about our facilitator program here!