Celebrating FIUTS Friendships

July 30 is the International Day of Friendship! To celebrate, we asked a few members of the FIUTS community to submit photos and stories about the cross-cultural friendships that they've made through FIUTS. Take a look, and share yours in the comments!

"We met some of our best friends at FIUTS CulturalFest today. Since more than 10 years ago we were FIUTS buddies, participated in FIUTs trips, drank at College Inn every Wednesday nights, scaled all the mountains near and far, traveled the world together, be there for each other when life rides its roller coaster. Tonight we met again with our babies.  This organization has contributed my understanding of the world and cultures tremendously. I learned how different we all are, but the same at the same time . I am truly grateful for being part of it."  -Yangyang Pan

"We met some of our best friends at FIUTS CulturalFest today. Since more than 10 years ago we were FIUTS buddies, participated in FIUTs trips, drank at College Inn every Wednesday nights, scaled all the mountains near and far, traveled the world together, be there for each other when life rides its roller coaster. Tonight we met again with our babies. This organization has contributed my understanding of the world and cultures tremendously. I learned how different we all are, but the same at the same time. I am truly grateful for being part of it." -Yangyang Pan

"I met Wenting Liu and Rowina Akin through FIUTS during my freshman year and we went to Yellowstone together with my roommate Zhaotong Liuduring that summer.  The best thing about friends is to explore the world together! "  - Yuxuan Chen

"I met Wenting Liu and Rowina Akin through FIUTS during my freshman year and we went to Yellowstone together with my roommate Zhaotong Liuduring that summer. The best thing about friends is to explore the world together!" - Yuxuan Chen

Our family was lucky to host Muyao, and her father Shubo when they arrived from Shanghai to start a year in Seattle. (She was 4 1/2 when they arrived, our kids were 9 and 12. She did not speak any English at all but she comunicated well, chasing our cat around the house with uncooked potatoes.)  We never felt like 'typical Americans' before but we loved sharing our family traditions with our new friends.  On Halloween, Muyao trick-or-treated with us, bringing her own style to the enterprise. She refused to wear a costume, and inspected most of the candy carefully before accepting it. When I explained to a neighbor "it's her first Halloween," Muyao turned around and corrected me: "It's my SECOND Halloween." We are so grateful to FIUTS for this opportunity to make new friends from around the world.  -Diana DeForest

Our family was lucky to host Muyao, and her father Shubo when they arrived from Shanghai to start a year in Seattle. (She was 4 1/2 when they arrived, our kids were 9 and 12. She did not speak any English at all but she comunicated well, chasing our cat around the house with uncooked potatoes.) We never felt like 'typical Americans' before but we loved sharing our family traditions with our new friends. On Halloween, Muyao trick-or-treated with us, bringing her own style to the enterprise. She refused to wear a costume, and inspected most of the candy carefully before accepting it. When I explained to a neighbor "it's her first Halloween," Muyao turned around and corrected me: "It's my SECOND Halloween." We are so grateful to FIUTS for this opportunity to make new friends from around the world. -Diana DeForest

I'm Modesty, and this is Ruqayyah. We met on the Youth Ambassadors Program with the Caribbean, and hit it off right away. Growing up, I was always the odd one out, very talkative , very curious about seemingly 'adult topics' such as politics. This wasn't always received very well, and in primary school I was bullied by my teacher. From the second I entered class in the morning, I could feel her hatred for me wafting off of her. The second I opened my mouth to speak, or ask her something, she would scold me. I felt alone, and I hated school, but thankfully still passed (at the top of the class, much to her frustration).  That's why I'm eternally grateful to have met Ruqayyah, who's the Trinidadian version of me.  We hit it off the minute we became host sisters, so much, that she became my real sister in the end.  We could talk about anything and everything, and used to stay up all night during the program. She's an inspiring young woman with incredible drive and ambition. I really look up to her, and she's pushed me to go chase my dreams.   I'm vacationing to Trinidad & Tobago in a few weeks, and I'm staying at her home.  I can't thank the program enough for introducing us, and I hope for others that they too, can find a lifelong friend.  -Modesty Van Der Leuv

I'm Modesty, and this is Ruqayyah. We met on the Youth Ambassadors Program with the Caribbean, and hit it off right away. Growing up, I was always the odd one out, very talkative , very curious about seemingly 'adult topics' such as politics. This wasn't always received very well, and in primary school I was bullied by my teacher. From the second I entered class in the morning, I could feel her hatred for me wafting off of her. The second I opened my mouth to speak, or ask her something, she would scold me. I felt alone, and I hated school, but thankfully still passed (at the top of the class, much to her frustration).

That's why I'm eternally grateful to have met Ruqayyah, who's the Trinidadian version of me. We hit it off the minute we became host sisters, so much, that she became my real sister in the end. We could talk about anything and everything, and used to stay up all night during the program. She's an inspiring young woman with incredible drive and ambition. I really look up to her, and she's pushed me to go chase my dreams.

I'm vacationing to Trinidad & Tobago in a few weeks, and I'm staying at her home. I can't thank the program enough for introducing us, and I hope for others that they too, can find a lifelong friend. -Modesty Van Der Leuv

"Anya, when I met you almost 4 years ago, you were like a magnet. Gorgeous, Manchester accent,  so kind and passionate about the world and about your contributions to it , and with a contagious positive energy no one could walk through unaffected. Throughout our friendship, you've taught me so much and opened me up more to who I am and what I'm capable of. I am so, so grateful to have you in my life. And it breaks my heart to say goodbye, but I know what an amazing opportunity awaits you back in Europe. Kill it in flight school, I'll visit you as soon as I can."  -Denna Good-Mojab (written on Facebook to fellow FIUTS Student Board member Anya Raj, used with permission)

"Anya, when I met you almost 4 years ago, you were like a magnet. Gorgeous, Manchester accent, so kind and passionate about the world and about your contributions to it, and with a contagious positive energy no one could walk through unaffected. Throughout our friendship, you've taught me so much and opened me up more to who I am and what I'm capable of. I am so, so grateful to have you in my life. And it breaks my heart to say goodbye, but I know what an amazing opportunity awaits you back in Europe. Kill it in flight school, I'll visit you as soon as I can." -Denna Good-Mojab (written on Facebook to fellow FIUTS Student Board member Anya Raj, used with permission)

" Friendship comes in different shapes, forms and sizes and in my experience the best of those are never expected and come in the least of common ways.  Embarking on the FIUTS SUSI program I had little expectation and a lot of apprehension as can be expected when faced with meeting 40+ new faces over the next few weeks. Little did I expect to create lasting links that I have enjoyed keeping up and maintaining over the last 5 months since I returned home to Zimbabwe.   From the small awkward moments you share initially as you wonder what to say, what to ask, how to laugh, to eventually becoming more accustomed to each other, to the late night chats and visits and so many more fond memories , it quickly became a normal routine and these kind souls have become endeared to my heart and a normal part of my life as if they are faces I have known all my life.  It is interesting how these friendships have and continue to show me that despite being born and or raised in different halves of the world, despite the cultural diversity and social differences we all share, there is a common thread that runs deep and true through all of us, the love of country, the desire to create and drive change, the ability to achieve above and beyond anything that anyone could imagine, but most of all, strongest of all,  our love for true, genuine friendship that spans a continent or two, that still makes those long late night/early morning international calls to share a laugh or showcase a virtual tour of our cities.  We may not be geographically linked, but one thing is for sure, the power of Friendship has created friends beyond culture, beyond perception and ultimately, beyond borders!"  -Kudzaishe Chidakwa

"Friendship comes in different shapes, forms and sizes and in my experience the best of those are never expected and come in the least of common ways. Embarking on the FIUTS SUSI program I had little expectation and a lot of apprehension as can be expected when faced with meeting 40+ new faces over the next few weeks. Little did I expect to create lasting links that I have enjoyed keeping up and maintaining over the last 5 months since I returned home to Zimbabwe.

From the small awkward moments you share initially as you wonder what to say, what to ask, how to laugh, to eventually becoming more accustomed to each other, to the late night chats and visits and so many more fond memories, it quickly became a normal routine and these kind souls have become endeared to my heart and a normal part of my life as if they are faces I have known all my life.

It is interesting how these friendships have and continue to show me that despite being born and or raised in different halves of the world, despite the cultural diversity and social differences we all share, there is a common thread that runs deep and true through all of us, the love of country, the desire to create and drive change, the ability to achieve above and beyond anything that anyone could imagine, but most of all, strongest of all, our love for true, genuine friendship that spans a continent or two, that still makes those long late night/early morning international calls to share a laugh or showcase a virtual tour of our cities. We may not be geographically linked, but one thing is for sure, the power of Friendship has created friends beyond culture, beyond perception and ultimately, beyond borders!" -Kudzaishe Chidakwa