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Faces of FIUTS

Faces of FIUTS is a campaign that collects personal stories from individuals who are part of our work. Follow FIUTS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see new faces every two weeks. All posts are collected on this page.

No matter what your role - alumni, homestay host, current student, program partner - we'd love to feature your story in a future post! To take part, email Ellen Frierson at ellen@fiuts.org or fill out the form to submit your information.

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Aaron

Where are you from?
I was born in Detroit, but grew up in Sammamish, Wa. I also consider Pullman, Washington and Taiwan my "other homes" as I studied in both places in high school. My mother was born in Ukraine and my father was born in Taiwan, so I am quite the multi-cultural mix!

What's your FIUTS story?
My roommate from China invited me to a FIUTS trip to Green Lake, and he introduced me to a bunch of students involved with FIUTS. Joining FIUTS has given me the opportunity to meet incredible people from across the world. Being able to travel, dance, eat, and interact with people that have different experiences has shown me other ways to look at the world around me. Not only that, I have a great group of friends from my FIUTS outings and events that I am very thankful for!

How will you change the world?
I enjoy learning about cultures as well as technology, so I am hoping to combine these interests to help people. I particularly want to work on bio-technologies related to robotics and AI that can help people live better lives no matter where they are in the world. The skills I am developing now in college, including multi-cultural awareness, will hopefully help me achieve this goal!

Aaron Su is a sophomore at the University of Washington, studying Computer Science and Engineering with Interdisciplinary Honors. He has been a FIUTS Facilitator since Fall 2016 and is involved in the FIUTS Connections program.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Fia

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Bangladesh for 18 years of my life. I came to USA for undergrad in 2016. My family still lives in Bangladesh but my sister and brother in law live in New York.

What's your FIUTS story?
The first time I encountered FIUTS was during my freshman orientation. When I first arrived I did not know anyone in Seattle. It was a little difficult to make friends. I remember a few FIUTS volunteers giving me my warmest welcome. They were extremely supportive and kind. So, I decided to be part of FIUTS myself. It turned out to be one of my best decisions because I met some of my best friends through FIUTS and have gained so many new perspectives and experiences since then.

How will you change the world?
After graduation I plan to return to Bangladesh and teach my community the lessons that I have learned from my undergraduate experience. The cross cultural experiences that I have gained by working with so many people from so many different cultures has truly enhanced my view on the world. I want to go back to my country and conduct training and workshops that promote education and health.

Fia Hoque is a sophomore at the University of Washington, intending to major in Chemistry. She is a FIUTS Facilitator, Student Board member, and co-chair of the Marketing Committee.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Erickson

Where are you from?
I am from Luanda, capital of Angola, where we speak Portuguese mostly but we have our traditional languages like Kimbundo, Umbundo and among others that I would like to learn, a very rich and beautiful place, it is really the place that I am happy to call home.

What's your FIUTS story?
Through contributing to my community by donating to hospitals and homeless people and also for fighting for equal rights, I was selected by the American embassy in my country to participate in the SUSI on civic engagement. FIUTS training made me comfortable to explore my creativity without barriers. It did not matter to them your physical appearance, for them the important thing is your mind and your heart and to become the best person joining both.

How will you change the world?
Promote equal rights, inspire people to have empathy, help with more access to things like education and information so that we can break social and economic barriers and become better as a community. I believe that every action has a reaction that will result in action as well, so I do my best to convey what I can by writing.

Erickson Carvalho is an activist and law student at Universidade Catolica de Angola. He was a participant in the Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Civic Engagement with Student Leaders from Southern Africa in January-February 2017, hosted by FIUTS and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Kao

Where are you from?
I grew up in the center of Tokyo. I consider Elgin, Nebraska, as my 2nd home; I was an exchange student for the year of 2012-13 and went to the public school where I actively worked as an ambassador of my country. After one year at UW, Seattle is now another place I feel very much connected!

What's your FIUTS story?
While staying at UW, I got involved in many programs at FIUTS. It was simply because I so much enjoyed the community since the very 1st day and the great time I've had with my friends from all over the world. I strongly feel that more schools should have organizations like FIUTS, where people interact boundlessly regardless of their background and create something together. Special thanks to the outstandingly amazing staffs - Ellen, Tom, Era, and Kelsey - for your warm hearts and hard work!

How will you change the world?
I believe this world would be a much better place if all of us can respect and try to understand the differences people have, such as culture, nationality, gender, and race. In the field of Business and Journalism, I've been working to realize the goal by putting a spotlight on those unheard or disregarded subjects. On a personal level, I continue being active to promote my country in many ways.

Kao Takaya is junior at Waseda University. She was a UW exchange student from 2016-17, studying Business with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Management. Kao was active with FIUTS as a homestay and Thanksgiving student, Pen Pal, Education and Visiting Programs volunteer, student committee member, SUSI Ambassador, and SLCI camp counselor.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Alissa

Where are you from?
I'm from Mexico, a little town called Mérida. It's really close to the border with Belize and Guatemala. It's very hot and humid. I like it.

What's your FIUTS story?
My first day at UW I went to the FIUTS office and asked, do I really have to come to orientation? I'd rather spend that time at home before classes start. Brianna said that I did, and I'm really thankful that I didn't skip it. I went to everything except camp, and met facilitators, and right after orientation ended I went to the office again and asked how I could become a facilitator. Since then I've been doing everything FIUTS offers for student leaders since literally the first day I got here.

How will you change the world?
I've been a social justice advocate for a few years now. I believe that education can create change, but so many people in the world, especially girls, don't have access to that really powerful tool. If we have that basic human right available to everyone, it can lead to a lot of amazing things. So I really want to push for education for everybody, everywhere.

Alissa Mustre is a senior at UW, majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice. She has been a FIUTS facilitator, student board member, education programs volunteer, SUSI Ambassador, student committee member, and office intern.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Gurdal

Where are you from?
I am originally from Istanbul but spent the last 5 years in the States, travelling for work. Lived in New Jersey (2 years) and Northwest Arkansas (3 years) before I moved back to Seattle with my family in June this year. I consider Seattle to be home right now.

What's your FIUTS story?
I got involved with FIUTS from Day 1 of my UW experience, with FIUTS arranging my temporary accommodation with a FIUTS alum, who still happens to be one of my best friends in the world. Joined several FIUTS activities like historic downtown tour, Vancouver trip, international welcome camp, and my favorite College Inn Wednesdays! FIUTS has made my UW experience so much more colorful in many ways. Connections I have built there are still an important part of my life.

How will you change the world?
I have spent 12 years in Consumer Good Industry giants, like P&G and RB and moving my career direction to Pharmaceutical Industry with my next challenge. My wife has started her own business You've Got Maids of Seattle, a professional maid services company. We would like to be an inspiration to other international FIUTS members to pursue their American Dream and hopefully help them along the way.

Gurdal was a FIUTS Facilitator during the years 2005-2006. He was an MBA exchange student at the UW Foster School of Business. After returning to Turkey he led the FIUTS Abroad Team in Turkey, supporting students from Turkey to get ready for their UW and Seattle experiences.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Clarisse

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Kuwait City, Kuwait. I consider a lot of places home since my nationality is a little bit more complicated. I've come to learn that home is now more of a feeling, where I feel loved and supported. This also means anywhere my family is.

What's your FIUTS story? 
FIUTS has been an organization that has given me a family, and some of the people I hold dearest to my heart. The most meaningful FIUTS experience was definitely doing Global Gala 2017 with my co-chair Suyi. Working together to create an event from scratch was both challenging and rewarding. FIUTS is a wonderful community, and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

How will you change the world?
I am passionate about people, and working towards creating a strong voice for people who have historically not had one. I want to work to bridge the gap of mental health in communities where it was historically looked down upon. I hope to be a catalyst of change through my activism to inspire a generation of leaders to take initiative to continuously better their community for anyone after them.

Clarisse Furtado is a senior double majoring in psychology and communication with a minor in diversity. She has been involved in FIUTS since her freshman year as a facilitator, student board member, and education programs volunteer.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Hajrudin

Where are you from?
I am from the heart shaped country where many historical events happened, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was born and I lived in Germany and I love to travel, but when I imagine my future I can only see myself in my beautiful Sarajevo.

What's your FIUTS story?
In fall 2012 I got the great opportunity to participate on a program FIUTS organized. It was life changing because it connected me with amazing peer role models and showed me that we can critically analyse our situation, identify problems and do something about them ourselves.

How will you change the world?
My goal is to become a mentor for young people. I had amazing experiences with FIUTS and local NGO's and now I want to give back. With an amazing team of friends and youth workers I founded an NGO called Association for Career Development (ARK) and we plan to mentor young people and help them to develop their true potential. We founded the organization this year and we are starting to implement our first projects.

Hajrudin Solak was a participant in the Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina in Fall 2012, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He is currently studying criminology at the University of Sarajevo.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Wenting

Where are you from?

The whole world is my home! I've studied and lived in Taiwan, mainland China, the U.S. and Spain, and I've traveled a lot.

What's your FIUTS story?
It has always been important to me to have a feeling of belonging. However, studying and living all over the place sometimes makes it confusing where I am truly from. I am considered a 'foreigner' even in Taiwan, where I was born and raised, but in FIUTS, everyone travels a lot and enjoys such experiences. We identify ourselves by all the pieces we've collected in every trip. This is a family of global citizens. This is where I belong.

How will you change the world?
My dream is to work in health-related NGOs and promote cultural diversity in daily life. I am currently working in CURE UW Chapter, an international charity and also a RSO on campus that helps kids with deformities in developing countries. With my experience gained in FIUTS, I am more aware of how culture influences health and the importance of respecting cultural differences.

Wenting Liu is a senior majoring in public health and minoring in global health. She became a FIUTS facilitator in 2015 and serves on the Student Board.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Bing

Where are you from?
I come from Kuantan, a coastal city in Malaysia. Growing up in Malaysia, spending 19 years of my lifetime there, I recognize myself as Malaysian Chinese. "Above Singapore, below Thailand" is how we Malaysians always describe the location of our country.

What’s your FIUTS story?
My first experience with FIUTS was performing at CulturalFest my freshman year with the dance group Tanak Borneo. In my sophomore year, I became a lot more involved with three different FIUTS committees. The thing I learned the most about from FIUTS is cross-cultural understanding. Even though I grew up in a multicultural country, people are still separated by culture. I grew up mostly around people from one background, and when I started to meet people from different backgrounds, my mindset started to change.

How will you change the world?
I want to contribute to making PEACE in this world by inspiring people with the most important FIUTS value that I have learnt: embracing difference. As a multicultural country, citizens in Malaysia are not 100% united. Racism is still a huge issue. Even though my contribution is small, I still wish to influence as many people as I can. I may not change the world, but I'll persist in spreading love.

Bing Yu Lee is a sophomore from Malaysia, majoring in geology and oceanography. He has performed at FIUTS CulturalFest and served on the Community Programs, Global Gala, and CulturalFest Expo committees.

Photo Credit: Lucy Deng


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Manjot

Where are you from?
I was born in Punjab, India and I lived there until I was about 11 or 12. After moving to the United States and living here for the last seven years or so, I always have a difficult time when I am asked where I am from. I consider both India and US my home because of all the memories I have made.

What's your FIUTS story?
I became involved with FIUTS before I started classes at UW, roughly two years ago. Knowing how large UW was, I wanted to be a part of a smaller, close-knit community that I could always rely on. And FIUTS provided me with so much more than what I could have ever imagined. I have met so many wonderful people and have learned so many things from people around the world. Every day working with FIUTS is a new opportunity for me to talk to someone from another part of the world, which I truly enjoy.

How will you change the world?
Currently, my plan is to become a physician to improve patient experience as they undergo treatment. It has been a long-term goal of mine, from even before I moved to US. But, to achieve this end, I need to be able to communicate effectively with patients from various backgrounds. FIUTS has played a key role in helping me understand the different perspectives people from around the world bring.

Manjot Singh is a sophomore double majoring in Bioengineering and Public Health. He has been a work-study assistant in the FIUTS office for almost two years, and also volunteers as a FIUTS Facilitator.

 

lissy board photo

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Lissy

Where are you from?
I grew up in Frankfurt, Germany, raised as a first-generation German to French and Austrian parents. I moved to the U.S. when I was 17 to study in a small Wisconsin High-School for a year, arriving with one suitcase, leaving everything familiar behind. Since then I have been addicted to learning about the world.

What's your FIUTS story?
FIUTS has enabled me to make friends from places I did not know existed, bringing me closer to understanding that we are essentially the same while celebrating our differences. Some of my best friends today were made at orientation camp, hiking a muddy trail to Mount Pilchuck, jet-lagged and absolutely soaked. The secret ingredients to making friends were revealed: sharing food, drinks, laughter and tears, stories to just keep us going. Making it back safely together is what makes the difference, regardless of where you are from.

How will you change the world?
My mission to change the world is to be fearless and to reduce ignorance. People are often afraid of the unknown. My implementation path is simple: Talking to strangers, asking for help, providing assistance whenever I can, learning and sharing the lessons and appreciating people for their kindness, curiosity and willingness to step outside their comfort zone. Basically, what we did on Mt. Pilchuck.

Lissy Rabusseau graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 with a Master's degree in Women Studies. She served on the FIUTS Board of Trustees for 6 years, including as President of the FIUTS Student Board, and helped welcome many international students to Seattle.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Farrah

Where are you from?
I was born, raised and now working as a high-school teacher in Nickerie, the second largest city in Suriname. My roots stem from Indonesian immigrants, who were brought here by the Dutch, to work at the plantations. I am proud to be part of Suriname, a country that gives us enough room for our multi-cultural heritage.

What's your FIUTS story?
I came to FIUTS as a mentor for the Youth Ambassadors Program for the Caribbean (YAC) in 2016. FIUTS has opened my eyes in student-involvement and volunteerism, two subjects that haven’t been developed yet in my country. I found it amazing, the way FIUTS is working for the students, trough the students. Instead of treating youngsters as inexperienced, FIUTS is treating them with mutual understanding and respect.

How will you change the world?
I live in a country where it is part of our culture that adults don’t need to listen to children. As a dean and a teacher in Basic Life Skills, I want to help change that perspective by showing my fellow teachers that we need to start having a different approach towards students. We can do that by involving them in activities for the community, giving them a sense of freedom to take action, trusting their creative abilities and guiding them through the process in order to help shape them into better human beings, which will eventually result in a better citizens.

Farrah Kartosentiko is a teacher in Suriname. She was an adult participant in the 2016 Youth Ambassadors Program with the Caribbean.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Bader

Where are you from?
I grew up in Kuwait City, Kuwait. I moved to the U.S. when I was 18 to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Washington. I am now living in New York City, pursuing a master's degree at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What's your FIUTS story?
It is difficult for me to narrow down my FIUTS experience to a few words. I became involved with FIUTS as a freshman, hoping to meet other students from all over the world. It was through my four years with FIUTS that I found many of my college friends. FIUTS was there for me before I even set foot on the UW campus.

How will you change the world?
I aspire to become an applied anthropologist, collaborating with other educators to enhance the experience of diverse students at schools. FIUTS has enabled me to become a more well-informed and culturally sensitive individual.

Bader Alfarhan ('16) graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. While at FIUTS, he served on several committees and helped welcome many international students to Seattle.

 

Faces of FIUTS: Meet Brooke

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Washington. I have lived here at the University of Washington for four years, but my parents live and work in Tacoma. My cultural background is Korean; my parents were both born in South Korea. I’ve visited there a few times, but have lived the majority of my life here in Washington.

What’s your FIUTS story?
I first got involved with FIUTS as an Ambassador for the SUSI program. It was a transformative experience. I’d always thought of myself as an open-minded person, but it was a different experience to really get to know people from other places and have real conversations about politics, culture, music, and much more. I still keep in touch with the SUSI students. It’s amazing to have their friendship in different parts of the world – any time of day, there’s always someone to talk to.

How will you change the world?
My goal is to become a physician and work with underserved minority communities as a family doctor.  I’m also interested in global health and would like to do trips with Doctors Without Borders someday. I hope to use my experience with FIUTS to bridge cultural gaps; I’ve developed a lot of communication skills that aren’t about language, that I hope will help me make connections with people from around the world.

Brooke Byun is a University of Washington senior majoring in Biochemistry and Communication, minoring in English. She was a UW Student Ambassador for the FIUTS Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) in 2016 and 2017.


Faces of FIUTS: Meet Daniel

Where are you from?
I lived most of my life in Mexico City, however I have also spent some time in Cologne, Germany and now in Seattle.To tell the truth, it just seems home is wherever you want it to be.

What’s your FIUTS story?
FIUTS welcomed me since my first year in Seattle, becoming a space to meet people from different cultures and exchange good moments. Besides from cool experiences, my best FIUTS memory was performing as a mariachi in last year's CulturalFest. Actually, after the presentation I was invited to a primary school to teach Mexican music, it was definitely a fun and enriching experience. This year I will sing again, don't miss CulturalFest this Saturday!

How will you change the world?
As a traveler and a professional, I will seek to share the same values that FIUTS spreads, promoting the mutual understanding and collaboration between people of different cultures, backgrounds and mindsets. It is always fun to both share our experiences and learn from each other, otherwise how can we truly grow as human beings?

Daniel Kapellman is studying for his Master of Science in Information Management at the UW Information School. He is a returning performer at the FIUTS CulturalFest Performance Showcase.

Photo credit: Lucy Deng


Face of FIUTS: Meet Kyki

Where are you from?
I'm from China, I'm a Chinese citizen. But on a cultural level, I'm also from all the places I've visited, because I've taken a part of all of them with me. I've studied, volunteered, and lived abroad in the U.S., Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Nepal, France, and Turkey. So I identify as a world citizen.

What's your FIUTS story?
During the first week of my freshman year, I was in the HUB and I realized I'd lost my credit card. My phone was dying and I was desperate and I didn't know anyone. I saw the FIUTS office and I went in and asked for help. The staff offered me comfort and a phone charger and helped me, and I realized that this was a safe space where I could be vulnerable, a welcoming place.

How will you change the world?
One goal for me is to keep growing and learning and willing to share what I learn. I want to fight against ignorance, and one of the ways I think I can do that is potentially to be involved in higher education, maybe to be a professor to build a safe but challenging space to support people's growth.

Jiaqi (Kyki) Li is a junior anthropology and dance major at the University of Washington. She is a current member of the FIUTS Student Board.


 

Face of FIUTS: Meet Rea

Where are you from?
I'm originally from a little village called Bobonong. But I grew up in a town called Francistown, the second largest city in Botswana. That's home too.

What's your FIUTS story?
When I applied for the SUSI program, it was the first application to anything that I had been completely honest in. FIUTS SUSI has been a stepping stone to me accepting me for me and being truthful for the first time. When I stand in front of people, I don't need to be afraid that I'm going to mess up, that I need to look a certain type of way. I can just be me. Because that's what got me here.

How will you change the world?
I want to teach people to accept their own story, despite the many negatives that might come with it. Our true stories should be our motivation to do everything that we set our minds to.

Tshegofatso Realeboga (Rea) Phatshwane is a participant in the FIUTS Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Civic Engagement 2017. She studies psychology and sociology at the University of Botswana.

 

 

Face of FIUTS: Meet Michel

Where are you from?
I come from Iquique, a city in northern Chile. It is the perfect mix between dessert, ocean, and Mediterranean weather.

What's your FIUTS story?
FIUTS is more than making friends, creating community and advocating for other international students. FIUTS has helped me develop my leadership skills, not only as part of an organization, but also an asset in my career as an educator. Through FIUTS educational programs I have had the chance to work with K-6 elementary students in their schools, not only presenting my own culture, but also assisting staff and coordinating groups of international students.

How will you change the world?
My plan to change the world starts in the preparation of new teachers. As an educator myself, FIUTS has given me the opportunity to explore how culturally sensitive and responsive new teachers must be within their schools and in their communities, especially when interacting and working with students who come from different parts of the world. This will be one of my ultimate goals in life.

Michel Riquelme Sanderson is a current UW student pursuing a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education. He has been a FIUTS facilitator, a member of the Student Board, and a K-12 Education Programs volunteer.

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Upcoming Events
Snowflake Lane Dec 20, 2017 05:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Winter International Student Orientation Jan 02, 2018 01:00 PM - 07:30 PM — HUB 214
FIUTS Wednesday Lunch Jan 03, 2018 11:30 AM - 01:30 PM — HUB South Ballroom
Creating a Welcoming Environment Workshop Jan 04, 2018 03:30 PM - 05:00 PM — FIUTS office (HUB 206)
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