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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Ornwipa Thamsuwan

Ornwipa Thamsuwan will perform Thai classical music from a period when such music was banned on the Khim (hammered-dulcimer).

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

My non-musician family supported me to learn Thai instruments in school and my teachers encouraged me to perform frequently during the 1990s. Nowadays I do background music as part of the "Chaopraya Ensemble".

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?

The theme of the song Saenkhamneung is "I fight through music".  The history of the song date back in 1940s, when Thai dictator tried to modernize the country to protect the nation from westerners and, therefore, banned Thai classical music. Teacher Luangpraditpairoh composed a song this song to protest against the government. This song represents the heart of Thai people who try to preserve and share cultures. Like a tree can withstand strong wind with its roots, the composer Luangpraditpairoh taught us that our nation can withstand the outside forces if we are strong; for that to happen, we must honor our heritage regardless of what we are to become.

Ornwipa (center) performing in an ensemble at a Thai temple

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

Thai people love of our nation. Thailand has a unique culture, barely touched by occidental countries because we have never been colonized.

CulturalFest Ticket Information:

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

Click here to buy your tickets today! And don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Join us for free cultural activities and more at the International Expo on Thursday, February 12, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances.

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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet Sorando

The group will present the traditional fisherman dance of Sōranbushi from Japan in an energetic and powerful performance.

Only three 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, Sorando!

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

When I saw the poster of Cultural Fest 2016 in November 2015, something suddenly came into my mind. Since I am an exchanging student and I can stay here only for one year, I thought that I could do something as Japanese and also that Cultural Fest would be a great opportunity to share Japanese culture. I started inviting Japanese friends and international friends who are interested in Japanese culture as well. Now our Sorando members unite each other and practice hard for the Cultural Fest 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you hope the audience will take away from your performance?

First, we would like the audience to get to know a little about Japan. Soranbushi is a Japanese traditional dance and this is a fisherman song. Fishing is very important for Japan. Fishing is really crucial for industry, culture, economics and even as fun leisure. Historically, we have continued fishing for thousand of years and we cannot separate our lives from fishing. I hope the audience will feel the importance of fishing in Japan by watching fishing movements of dance and fisherman passion in the song. Also, this song were sung among fishermen.
Because fishing is hard work and cannot be done by yourself, people sing this song to unite, cooperate each other by singing this powerful song. Since this performance itself is so powerful, I hope that people would get energy from it.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your performance?
I would like people to know that each dance movements show the motions of fishing so I hope the audience get them. Please enjoy!!

CulturalFest Ticket Information:

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

Click here to buy your tickets today! And don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Join us for free cultural activities and more at the International Expo on Thursday, February 12, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances.

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CulturalFest Countdown: Meet The Khmer Student Association

Members of the UW Khmer Student Association will perform a traditional Cambodian scarf dance. Learn about their history & plans for their performance!

Only one month to go until the CulturalFest Performance Showcase, featuring 11 performing artists & groups 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, Khmer Student Association!

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

Khmer Student Association (KhSA) has been an RSO of University of Washington for quite some time. Every year, our organization plans a New Year Show event for Cambodian New Years. In the event, we would incorporate one of Cambodia's fairy tale/ folk tale and a few of Cambodia's traditional and folk dances.

Since dancing is one of the biggest aspect to our culture, we as officers of KhSA want to preserve our culture by teaching our members how to speak, traditions, history, and dancing.

2) 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?

KhSA wants to spread awareness of Khmer culture through dance. CulturalFest would be a great experience for our group with the amount of exposure to the greater Seattle community. The audience would learn about a smaller minority of Southeast Asia and show the amount of diversity within UW.

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

We would like our audience to know that Scarf is a folk dance which originated from the minority Cham ethnic group in Cambodia, who once had their own kingdom known as Champa, which is now part of present-day Vietnam. Cham women traditionally cover their faces when they go out. Thus, the female dancers will use the scarves to magically court their lovers.

CulturalFest Ticket Information:


General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 onlineDiscounted student tickets will be available for $10 in advance at the FIUTS office (HUB 206) or at Wednesday Lunch. Tickets will also be available at the door for $15.

 

 

 

 

Click here to buy your tickets today! And don't forget that CulturalFest is much more than just the Performance Showcase. Join us for free cultural activities and more at the International Expo on Thursday, February 12, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances.



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CulturalFest Countdown: Travel to Slovenia!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Read 5 fun facts about Slovenia!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Spend the day experiencing the cultures of over 35 countries - the Expo features booths developed and staffed by student volunteers from all over the world! The event is free and open to the public.

In the weeks leading up to the Expo, we'll be featuring blog posts about different regions and countries represented at the Expo. Read on to learn five fun facts about Slovenia:

Fact #1: There are over 10,000 caves in Slovenia. The Škocjan Caves in the southwest of Slovenia are one of the largest known underground canyons in the world and were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986.

(Photo by TravelingOtter)

Fact #2: The current territory of Slovenia has had several different state formations throughout its history, such as the Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Serbia, and Yugoslavia, to name a few.  Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the Southeast.

Fact #3: Slovenia is a very mountainous country and almost half of its surface area (10,000 sq km!) is covered by forests. Despite its small size, Slovenia has over 24,000 types of animal species- it even has one of the largest brown bear populations in all of Europe (over 400).

Fact #4: Potica is a popular pastry that consists of a rolled dough cake filled with chopped nuts, honey, butter, cinnamon, or raisins.

Fact #5: Slovenia has the most religious buildings per capita in Europe. There are more than 3,000 churches, chapels, and religious monuments. Most monuments are Catholic that date from various periods and cover all different types of archaeological styles.

Come to the 2016 CulturalFest International Expo to find out more fun facts about the cultures around our globe! Open and free to the public:

Friday, February 12, 2016

10:30AM- 3:00PM

University of Washington

Husky Union Building (HUB) Ballrooms (2nd Floor)

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CulturalFest Countdown: Travel to Panama!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Read 5 fun facts about Panama!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Spend the day experiencing the cultures of over 35 countries - the Expo features booths developed and staffed by student volunteers from all over the world! The event is free and open to the public.

In the weeks leading up to the Expo, we'll be featuring blog posts about different regions and countries represented at the Expo. Read on to learn five fun facts about Panama:

Fact #1: Panama is a narrow land bridge (called an isthmus) that connects North and South America. It is the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise on the Atlanta and set on the Pacific.

Fact #2: Panama City is the only capital city in the world with a rain forest in its city limits (the second largest rain forest in the western hemisphere)! About 1.5 million people live in Panama City, which is almost half the entire population of Panama.

Fact #3: The Panama Canal, one of the most complex and difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, stretches 80 km from Panama City to Colón. Allowing passage of over 14,000 vessels a year, the canal accounts for one third of the country’s total economy. It was built between 1904-1914 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Panama assumed full control of the canal in 1999.

Fact #4: Panama is a constitutional democracy. Its first female president, Mireya Moscoso, was elected in 1999, serving from 1999-2004.

Fact #5: Panama has the lowest population in Central America (3.6 million).  It is roughly the size of the state of South Carolina. Despite its small size, the country has over 1,500 miles (2, 500 km) of coastline.

The Beach at Santa Catalina, Panama (Photo by Alex Proimos)

Come to the 2016 CulturalFest International Expo to find out more fun facts about the cultures around our globe! Open and free to the public:

Friday, February 12, 2016

10:30 AM-3:00 PM

University of Washington

Husky Union Building (HUB) Ballrooms (2nd Floor)

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CulturalFest Countdown: Travel to Indonesia!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Read 5 fun facts about Indonesia!

Join over 1,500 students, local community members, and elementary school students in travelling the world in a day at FIUTS CulturalFest International Expo! Spend the day experiencing the cultures of over 35 countries - the Expo features booths developed and staffed by student volunteers from all over the world! The event is free and open to the public.

In the weeks leading up to the Expo, we'll be featuring blog posts about different regions and countries represented at the Expo. Read on to learn five fun facts about Indonesia:

Fact #1: Indonesia is huge and very diverse! Composed of 17,508 islands covering approximately 1,919,440 square kilometers, it takes 12 hours of flying to get from one end of the country to the other (and covers 3 different time zones)! The total population is around 238 million people, making it the fourth most populous country in the world (China is #1, India is #2, USA is #3). More than 700 languages and their dialects are spoken across the country.

Islands in Indonesia

Fact #2: Indonesia’s size and tropical climate support the second highest level of biodiversity in the world, with thousands and thousands of different plants and animals (Brazil is #1). It is home to the world’s largest lizard (the Komodo Dragon) and the world’s largest flower (corpse flower).

Komodo Dragon (Photo by Mark Dumont)

Fact #3: Did you know that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country? Over 87% of the country’s population identify themselves as Muslim. It is home to around 12% of the world’s entire Muslim population.

School children in Indonesia

Fact #4: There are over 400 volcanoes (more than any other country in the world). Mount Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is located in Indonesia. It has erupted regularly since 1548 (once every 2 to 3 years). Despite this, thousands of people still live on the slopes of the volcano.

Mount Merapi, located between Central Java and Yogyakarta

Fact #5: The world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur temple, can be found in Indonesia. It took over 75 years and 2 million blocks of stone to build. It was abandoned for unknown reasons in the 14th century and later buried for centuries under volcanic ash. Today it is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.

Come to the 2016 CulturalFest International Expo to find out more fun facts about the cultures around our globe! Open and free to the public:

Friday, February 12, 2016

10:30 AM-3:00 PM

University of Washington

Husky Union Building (HUB) Ballrooms (2nd Floor)

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CulturalFest 2016 Performance Lineup

The FIUTS CulturalFest Performance Showcase is only five weeks away! We're so excited to announce this year's incredible lineup of talented performers from all over the world.

The FIUTS CulturalFest Performance Showcase is only five weeks away! We're so excited to announce this year's incredible lineup of talented performers from all over the world. These amazing individuals and groups will share music, dance, and more at Meany Hall on Saturday, February 20; buy your tickets online now!

This year's CulturalFest performers are:

Daniel Kapellmann (Mexico): Daniel Kapellmann will sing two popular ranchera Mexican songs, contemporary and classic.

KUD Sevdah Seattle (Bosnia and Herzegovina): “Sevdah” means “love,” and through dance and music, KUD Sevdah Seattle shares that love through traditional folk dancing from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UW Khmer Student Association (Cambodia): Members of the UW Khmer Student Association will perform the Cambodian scarf dance, telling a story of ladies using scarves to magically court their lovers.

Maria George (India): Dancer Maria George’s semi-classical dance incorporates classical Indian dance forms Mohiniyattom and Kuchipudi.

Sorando (Japan): The traditional fisherman dance of Sōranbushi from Japan is an energetic and powerful performance.

Tanak Borneo (Malaysia): Malaysian ensemble Tanak Borneo share a dance representing the history of headhunter warriors and paddy field caretakers.

Ornwipa Thamsuwan (Thailand): Ornwipa Thamsuwan will perform Thai classical music from a period when such music was banned on the Khim (hammered-dulcimer).

UW DangeRAAS Dawgs (India): UW DangeRAAS Dawgs promote the traditional dance forms of Garba and Raas, folk dances originating in Gujarat, India, with a colorful fusion performance.

Denná Good-Mojab (Iranian-American): Iranian-American soloist Denná Good-Mojab performs Tahmineh’s Aria from one of the few know Iranian operas, Rostam and Sohrab.

Husky Wushu Team (China): Wushu is contemporary Chinese martial arts, a modern exhibition sport that is derived from traditional Chinese fighting systems.

UW Awaaz (South Asian): A cappella team UW Awaaz incorporates various genres of Western and South Asian music, to bring out flavors from both cultures.

Ticket Information:

General admission tickets are on sale now for $15 online. Discounted student tickets are available for $10 in advance at the FIUTS office (HUB 206) or at Wednesday Lunch (February 3). Tickets will also be available at the door for $15. Children 10 and under are free but do need a ticket to enter. Click here to buy your tickets today!

Also, remember to join us for free cultural activities and more at the International Expo on Friday, February 12, and support FIUTS programs at the Reception and Silent Auction before the performances. See you there!

Can't come to CulturalFest, but want to support FIUTS? Consider making a donation to our cross-cultural and educational programs serving students and community members in Seattle and around the world.

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Global Getaway: FIUTS Goes to Portland

Over Thanksgiving weekend, FIUTS students traveled south to explore Portland, falling in love with the views, food carts, and premium malls. Facilitators Wedward, Allan, and Kathleen recount their experiences!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, FIUTS students traveled south to explore Portland, falling in love with the views, food carts, and premium malls. Facilitators Wedward, Allan, and Kathleen recount their experiences with 40 FIUTS participants!

The Portland Trip seems to be a FIUTS tradition, but none of the participants or facilitators had been on a Portland Trip with FIUTS yet. This year we have a big group of 40 students, coming from different programs at the UW, different years, and different background. But we got to the same destination: Portland! So, here is our story.

Day 1:

It was amazingly sunny and clear, and everybody met at the Burke Museum. Exciting people plus cooperating weather equals to a perfect start to an amazing weekend as we all climbed into our cars! Five cars left Seattle around 10 AM.

After satisfying the participants’ quickly-built hunger, all of our cars headed to Multnomah Falls, which was just a bit of detour from Portland. There was much appreciation and awe for the spectacular waterfall; however, there was a sudden change of weather and awful traffic… despite which, the excitement of this new experience eventually brought back everyone’s enthusiasm as we finally reached downtown Portland.

It was almost a group consensus that missing the Christmas tree lighting was inexcusable, therefore, people “fought” and squeezed through traffic, vendors, and people just to get a glimpse of this supposedly life-changing, breathtaking show. A sing-along of Christmas carols was very much a good start to the ceremony. But you might have already guessed what happened when everyone was holding such high expectation. The actual tree-lighting was surprisingly short and generic. Although mediocre, many people still left with smiles on their faces because they knew it would be followed by a nice, heart-warming dinner. And to many of them, it’s also the beginning of their first magical evening outside of their hometown, besides, of course, Seattle.

Most of the students had dinner in a Thai restaurant. We played several icebreakers while we waited for food. Wedward’s table played the game “two truths and one lie”. Usually, the truths were always something you did amazing, but the lie was something you expected to achieve in the future, which was a great opportunity to let everybody know each other.

By the time we finished dinner, it was after 10pm. But people seemed to only have gotten more excited and longed for more. So a few groups decided to ignore everything that health science had warned us by taking an evening sugar run to Voodoo Donuts. Wedward had the following impression: “I like this place a lot. The cashier in store dressed like a devil, and the dark purple lipstick looked scary.” There were various kinds of donuts, and many students bought a lot for friends and themselves. Dessert was just the beginning of night life in Portland. Wedward, Julia, Lina, Noel and Shuyan had a conversation group in a Portland pizza place, which was so much fun talking about translation of Harry Potter for different European languages.

FIUTS students posing with their Voodoo Donuts!

Day 2

On the second day, almost all of the participants joined the Saturday Market group to explore the beautiful city of Portland. The waterfront view is priceless where big bridges and snow-capped mountains are surrounding the lovely area. We were fascinated by streetcars in Portland and the number of food carts was far greater than we expected. We even found Jian-Bing (煎饼, a kind of Chinese wrap includes scrambled egg, black bean paste, chili sauce, pickled vegetables, green onion, cilantro, and a crispy fried cracker), which is one of the most common food carts in China. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sight-seeing tour and after visiting the Powell’s bookstore, we headed out to Pittock Mansion.

Portland features Pittock Mansion as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The panoramic view from the estate grounds of downtown area and Mt. Hood were amazing. While most students went shopping after the mansion visit, a smaller group took the Portland Aerial Tram to the Upper Terminal, where you can see three Mt. St Helens, Mt. Adam and Mt. Hood embracing Portland.

For group dinner, the participants wanted to try a new place so we had an Italian food at Pastini. During the second night, we also had some beers in Rogue Hall. The bartender was so nice (not only for looking). When we found it hard to choose the beers, he offered us lots of samples for tasting. By the way, the Hazelnut Brown Nectar Beer was really nice.

Enjoying Portland nightlife!

Day 3

The last day was surprisingly the popular among our participants. Yes, despite all the deliciousness and beauty of Portland, people had chosen shopping over any other proposed options. It, of course, took place at the biggest premium outlets just a bit south of the city. To be honest, I have never seen a happier face on so many people before we arrived at the outlet. The traffic back to Seattle was not that bad. Though it became foggy in Seattle Area, we all came back safely.

It was nice to meet all thirty-five participants and five dedicated facilitators (Allan, Noel, Pramod, Kathleen, and Wedward), who made the experience irreplaceable. Also specially thanks to our bonus driver Julia from Germany and who made so many good suggestions during the trip. See everyone next FIUTS event!

FIUTS Facilitator team!

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Welcome, Yurie and Satsuki!

FIUTS is very excited to have two new friendly faces at the front desk! Meet Yurie and Satsuki!

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

 

 

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Name: Yurie Noda

Hometown: Yokohama, Japan

Year: Senior

Major: Business

About me: Hello! My name is Yurie Noda and I am an international student from Japan. After I finished my junior year in Japan last March, I joined a one-year program at Bellevue College studying English and Business. I’m really excited to work at FIUTS this quarter! I will work at front desk and help some events.

I decided to join FIUTS partly because I would like to learn different cultures. I have noticed that America has a variety of cultures and people have different backgrounds, which is different from Japan. FIUTS gives us great opportunities to meet new people around the world and share different cultures through a lot of events.

I like eating, exploring new places, watching musicals/movies and playing Mandolin. In my free time, I like to explore Seattle. Please tell me your favorite place in the city! My stay in Seattle is limited, so I hope to join many events, learn other cultures and get great experiences. I’m looking forward to meeting you at office and events!

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Name: Satsuki Ishii

Hometown: Japan

Year: Junior (from next April in Japan)

Major: Comparing Culture

About me: Hi everyone! My name is Satsuki Ishii. I am a new intern at FIUTS and I am going to Bellevue College as an international student. I am from Japan. My hometown, Niigata, is similar to Seattle, so I love life in Seattle. Since I came to the U.S., I have been interested in taking leadership in international situations. Also, I want to know about the world and want to be more international through communication with students who have different backgrounds. I am really excited to meet new people every day at the FIUTS office! I hope I can help you enjoy FIUTS events!

In my free time, I like to cook, watch movies and listen to music!

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Pen Pal: Meeting Great Children with Big Dreams

Check out Emma's joy in getting a new letter each week, meeting her pen pals, and making a difference through the FIUTS Pen Pal Program!

The FIUTS Pen Pal program connects local elementary school students with University of Washington students to exchange a series of letters over a period of 6 weeks. The program culminates in an opportunity for the youths to meet their UW pen pals on the university campus. Check out Emma's joy in getting a new letter each week, meeting the pen pals in person, and making a difference!

Name: Emma Begue

Country: France

Major: Economics

Class: Junior

Brief Introduction

I am twenty-on years old and I am from France. My university in France had an exchange with UW; that is how I got to study at UW for the autumn quarter in 2015. I am studying Economics and I joined the Campus Band to keep playing the flute in the US.

Why did you participate in the FIUTS Pen Pal Program?

At the beginning of the quarter, I was looking through the welcome kit FIUTS gives at Greeting Tables for activities. I wanted to find new things to get involved in. I saw a presentation of the Pen Pal Program and I thought, “Why not?”. I love children and I thought it was another way of discovering the American culture and making new friends.

Tell us a little bit about the Pen Pal Program.

I got assigned two pen pals. The process is very simple: you write a letter one week, and the following week, you get an answer from your pen pal. This happened all through the fall quarter. I remember my first letters, it was so fun to read all the questions the kids had to ask. They were interested by everything and you could see they put heart in writing back to you. It was fun discovering what they liked, their favorite books, sweets, places in Seattle, etc.

What has been the most rewarding part of the Pen Pal Program?

I feel like the most rewarding thing was to feel how happy they were that you wrote back each time, that you asked questions about them, that they got to talk to you. We talked a bit about everything and nothing at the same time, it was really nice. And you could definitely see how important it was to them when I met them at Wednesday Lunch. I felt like I made a difference. I will remember it as a wonderful experience.

Tell us about meeting your pen pals!

Meeting my pen pals was really fun! At first it’s hard to break the ice because even if you know them it’s still a little weird but it gets fun fast! After eating, my pen pals and I did an activity that consisted in building the highest tower out of newspapers. It was really fun and we got to talk while doing it, which was awesome! They gave me their last letter too and I was really sad to have to say goodbye. But it was great, you could see that they loved being there and we had fun.

What was your favorite part of, or memory from, being a PenPal?

I think my favorite memory was getting the letters. Each of them. Maybe the first ones made more of an impact but I remember feeling really excited about getting a new letter that I got to read before going to work and it was a great way to start my shift. They always brought a smile to my face for sure. One of my pen pals loves to draw and all her letters were covered with drawings so it was nice to discover each new design.

Would you recommend other international students to do join Pen Pal program? Why?

I would recommend it mostly because it is another way to get to know the American culture. You get to write to children who don’t live in the greatest area in Seattle and it’s rewarding to make a difference for them, to show that you are interested. It’s a way to get involved in something that doesn’t take huge amount of time and meeting really great children with big dreams.

Be a part of the FIUTS Pen Pal Program and write to and meet a Seattle elementary school student! Find out more at the next Pen Pal Information Session on Friday, January 8, at 11:30 am - 12:00 pm at Allen Library Research Commons, Red C. For more information click here or contact Tom at tom@fiuts.org

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Facilitator Corner: Alissa Mustre

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 Alissa Mustre!

FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over theworld 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 Alissa Mustre!

Name: Alissa Mustre
Country: Mexico
Major: Law, Societies, and Justice (intended)
Class: 2018
FIUTS Facilitator Since: Autumn 2014

Brief Introduction

Hi! My name’s Alissa and I am from the beautiful, colorful Mexico. I’m a social justice advocate, feminist, vegan, lover of cats, Taylor Swift, and the cosmos. I enjoy watching football, soccer and the stars. Food is one of my favorite things in the world; I believe it’s a great thing to bond over. I also love to read – books are probably THE greatest things ever invented by human beings. Books or Star Wars… it’s debatable.

What does it mean to you to be a FIUTS facilitator?

Being a FIUTS facilitator is so much more than leading events and helping answer people’s questions or needs; it means you’re a role model for people, you’re someone they look up to not only because you’re leading an event, but because you’re a leader.

Being involved in FIUTS is about making connections from literally all over the world. It feels like the world gets smaller because you make so many friends with people whose cultures are so different, and yet similar at the same time, to yours. I have met so many amazing people that I have learned so much from, and I am eternally grateful for this opportunity. If it weren’t for FIUTS, I probably wouldn’t have met these beautiful people that are now some of my best friends.

Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator

"The fact that people from tremendously different cultures can come together for the same selfless, altruistic values is so inspiring."

I think my absolute favorite event I have facilitated is the MLK Day of Service. It’s spectacular how many people get together for a good cause: to give back to the community. I not only got the opportunity to make a small (but significant) change in people’s lives, I also got to bond over this with wonderful and dedicated people. The small group of people I led went to a homeless shelter for women and cleaned the place for lovely women to have a decent place to live. It’s so easy to take commodities for granted, and this event particularly makes you aware of how lucky you are to not have to worry about certain things. The fact that people from tremendously different cultures can come together for the same selfless, altruistic values is so inspiring. I highly recommend this event!

Alissa (left) explains football to our international students before a Husky football game this fall quarter.

Tips/comments for peer facilitators

Be a leader. Be kind to people. Be confident in yourself, you can do it! Don’t be shy, try to talk to everyone and help others mingle among themselves. Always listen to people, making them feel heard and acknowledging their opinion is very important. Be prepared for situations not going the way you wanted them to, making mistakes is fine, you can always learn from them. Also, always bring a snack – food can be a great icebreaker. Try to sign up for every event, they’re all super awesome. And most importantly, HAVE FUN – you probably will without even trying, I guarantee it.

Check out our past Facilitator Corners:

Ang 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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Happy Holidays From FIUTS!

Wishing you happy holidays and check out some of our best photos from 2015!

 

Dear Students and Community,

We would like to say a heartwarming happy holidays from all of us here at FIUTS! Our office will be closed Wednesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 3rd. We will be back, rested and ready to roll, to welcome our new students at the Winter Orientation on Monday, January 4th, 2016! It will be followed shortly by our first Wednesday Lunch of the new year on January 6th!

We will also continue to get ready for our annual CulturalFest Event with the International Expo on February 12th and the Silent Auction & Performance Showcase on February 20th. If you are traveling or going home, we welcome donations from a foreign country to take part in our Silent Auction! Bring donation items to the FIUTS office in the new year, with your name, and the country it came from! Tickets to the Performance Showcase event are also on sale!

And, finally, we will leave you with a few photos from our amazing 2015 year! Enjoy your holidays!

Facilitators and students at the pumpkin patch. Photo credit: Wedward Wei

FIUTS students at Lake Wenatchee Campground for a weekend this summer. Photo credit: Noel H. Kimber

Facilitators chopping and slicing away as we prepare for our biggest monthly gathering of international students on campus: Wednesday Lunch!

Students got together for our Happy Hour event at Rhein Haus

FIUTS students serving the community on Martin Luther King's Day of Service in Seattle!

FIUTS students on top of Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Penninsula!

Students at Snow Flake Lane for a test of the winter wonderland!

Students in our host family's home for Thanksgiving Dinner.

FIUTS student volunteers teaching elementary school students about their home country - China!


Sincerely,

The FIUTS Team

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My First FIUTS Thanksgiving

Changning Chen and his classmate Chiaki talk about their first Thanksgiving with FIUTS community hosts!

By Changning Chen

Hi, my name is Changning Chen and I come from Chengdu, China, which is famous for spicy Sichuan food, like hot-pot. My classmate Chiaki and I were very lucky to be invited by Jon and Noreen to celebrate Thanksgiving together with their family. They picked us up on campus and drove us to Bellevue. The weather was beautiful and Jon kindly showed us a lot of beautiful places along the way. Mrs. Jones, Noreen’s mother, prepared the Thanksgiving dinner in her beautiful apartment. We also met several friendly family members there.

Although I also celebrate Thanksgiving in China sometimes, I have never had a “real” Thanksgiving before I came to the USA. The food was wonderful and we really liked the delicious turkey and pie. During the dinner, we shared a lot of interesting stories with each other. Mrs. Jones also showed us her traditional Norway cloth, which is an absolute masterpiece made by her mother. After having desert and coffee, Mrs. Jones suggested we play Scrabble. It was really fun for us and Chiaki won the game. Jon and Noreen drove us back to campus that night. Chiaki adds, "I appreciated the great opportunity to explore American tradition with tender Turkey and pumpkin pie. It was a splendid experience to socialize and accustom ourselves to the local community in Seattle".

It was such a great pleasure to meet and celebrate Thanksgiving with Noreen and her family. I also need to thank Bea who matched us with Noreen’s family. This is a wonderful experience which I will never forget!

Check out more photos from our students placed in homes all over Seattle for this American tradition: Thanksgiving Dinner with Community Hosts. Contact Bea if you'd like to join our community and meet UW international students!

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FIUTS: A Journey North

Read about how Facilitator Kevin Sander, and other FIUTS students, spent the weekend exploring Camano Island.

By Kevin Sander

Normally, going north means going home. My last class ends and I join the daily exodus out of Seattle back to my house in Everett. Go past Everett, however, and my heart quickens. Suddenly I've crossed the Snohomish River, Cascades on my right, and adventure somewhere on the road ahead. There are whole worlds to discover going North; in the ides of November, FIUTS sent me along with a host of others to discover one such world on Camano Island.

I hadn't spent much time on Camano in the past. It's near enough to home, but still out of the way enough to feel seclusive. "I can imagine I'm still in Alaska out here," the shuttle driver said as he helped us find our cabins. It was dark, screaming wind and rain chasing us indoors; indeed we might have well been on the shores of the Bering.

We took the time to get better acquainted, huddled around playing cards and steaming cups of cider, hoping the storm would leave us in the night. Only scattered showers lingered by morning, so undaunted we set out to explore our island neighbor, Whidbey.

After crossing Deception Pass, we were soon enjoying lunch overlooking the Sound at Fort Ebey. Amidst the waves, echoes of a history that could have been were heard inside the halls that once housed rounds of ammunition and ever vigilant sentinels. Those echos were amplified manyfold by Fort Casey just a few miles to the south. The forts were part of a network that was to be the last line of defense against a Japanese fleet should they ever reach the west coast during WWII. That day never came, yet they remain a poignant reminder of those terrible events that so enveloped the world. Among the batteries, our group, descended from those who fought on both sides of the war, in both Europe and the Pacific, stood together. We spoke honestly about our nations' roles in the war and about how those events continue to touch our lives today. It was a conversation both solemn and lined with hope, for the fact was that we now live in a world where we can come together to have it and, through such understanding, avoid repeating the tragedies of our past.

We left Whidbey ready for a different kind of adventure. We were already in Silvertip country, so that evening we stopped in Everett for a Western Hockey League match against the Swift River Broncos. It was a perfect setting to hold conversations about sports in our home countries and share stories about our hometown teams. My hometown team, by the way, routed Swift River 4-0. It was a perfect game for our first time hockey fans to cheer and gasp as we scored and laid on big hits. Go Tips!

We ended our trip with another lunch on the Sound at Kayak Point. Sun-showers turned a simple BBQ into a fight to keep the fire burning, but those woes were themselves quenched under double rainbow vistas and the positive energy that had marked our group from the  beginning.

So ended our journey north. It is a territory that I have ventured through many times and from which I have learned many things. But through FIUTS, I was able to see it all anew - through prisms of culture and history that are not my own. I got the chance to share my home, and through their perspective, they shared it back again with me.

FIUTS: A Journey North

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Thanksgiving Dinner with Community Hosts!

Photos and quotes from Thanksgiving dinners around Seattle with international students and community hosts!

Each November, FIUTS connects students with hosts from around the Seattle area who open their homes to share Thanksgiving with UW international students. For many students, the opportunity to eat turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie with an American family or group of friends is a new and exciting cultural experience. And for hosts, inviting international students to join them for Thanksgiving brings unique perspectives to this fall tradition.

We asked hosts to send us photos of the dinner they shared with friends, families, and international guests. We're thrilled to see so many smiling faces as people from around the world gathered to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

Here's a collection of photos from a few of the dinners that took place last Thursday:

"We had a rollicking crowd of neighbors, family, and our FIUTS students." Ann, hosting our students Jingyi and Yuzhu.

"We had such super visits with Rowina and Osman. It was a completely enriching part of our celebration." Sherry, hosting FIUTS students Rowina and Osman.

"No one was injured with the rolling pin."- Nancy, who invited homestay students Nisha and Charlotte over for dinner.

"My mother, husband and myself all really enjoyed hosting our student matches." - Noreen, who hosted Changning and Chiaki.

"We had a blast at our international Thanksgiving!" - Donna, who hosted Nicole, Nicole, Jose, and Maria.

Our community member Cathy, hosting students Ashwaq, Omar, Saleh, and Wafe.

Our host Karen and Dan (as well as their seven-year-old Kendra and four-year-old Darian) hosted 10 FIUTS students for Thanksgiving Dinner!

We're so thankful for the community members who welcome students to their tables, and to students for participating in a unique cultural exchange experience! Stay tuned for a student blog about her Thanksgiving experience with a local family to be posted next week!

To learn more about FIUTS hosting and friendship programs, visit www.fiuts.org/homestay.

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