Facilitator Corner: Madeline Kusnadi
FIUTS Facilitators are student leaders from all over the world who welcome new international students, help organize events, and lead activities for hundreds of students each quarter. Read on to find out more about the FIUTS facilitator experience from Maddie Kusnadi.
Name: Madeline Kusnadi
Major: Creative Writing
FIUTS Facilitator Since: August 2018
Despite being born and raised in Indonesia, I was raised with the culture and mindset of an American: conversing, watching TV shows, reading novels, and thinking in English. Attending international schools, I was able to get exposure to different cultures, befriending students from different countries and going on study abroad tours. I was so fascinated in cultural diversity, I ended up being very removed from my own culture, to a point where I could barely speak my mother tongue. It wasn’t until I got involved with FIUTS that I began to appreciate and accept my own identity as an Indonesian, all the while interacting and exploring the different cultures and backgrounds FIUTS brings together.
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
My experiences in community college made it a challenge for me, so when I transferred to UW, I decided to make the most of my remaining two years as a student. I sought out every opportunity I could to get involved, to find my own community, to find myself – but nothing felt more like home than FIUTS. It didn’t just happen overnight, though. It started with the Student Board. I got to meet and know some amazing people and felt the need to be just as impressive and keep up with them, so I started facilitating to overall grow as a person. I facilitated 83 hours in September before I finally felt the least bit comfortable with the idea of facilitating. Soon enough, with the newfound confidence and self-improvement, I was able to enjoy the leadership position I feared, speak up when I used to be the shyest, and step out of my comfort zone when I used to hide in it. I then wanted to reach out to those who felt like they were alone, who felt as small as I did when I first started at UW. Facilitating gave me the chance to be the best version of me I can be. I made it a goal for myself to facilitate as much as I can. It’s my last year at UW now and I hope to keep taking the opportunities given to me by FIUTS.
Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
One of the most memorable events I facilitated was last fall’s Lake 22 and Bridal Veil Falls Hike. I had to lead a group of 40 students with two other facilitators on a hike and back to campus safely. Never have I thought that I would ever go hiking anywhere, let alone lead one, and yet I did. Despite being the slowest, most tired, most out-of-breath person on the entire hike, I was able to make new friends, keep a conversation going, and finish the hike alive and unharmed. Of course, I made sure my participants also came back in one piece. It was the hardest, yet most fun and rewarding event I’ve facilitated thus far. It’s my favorite memory because there were smiles, laughter, and stories shared between me with complete strangers who turned into friends. It’s also because it’s a personal accomplishment where I really threw myself out there when I had zero experience, but came back with a memory of a time I’ll never forget.
How have you grown as a leader through being a facilitator?
I’ve always been told that communication is key. I’ve always believed it; I just never had the platform or community to practice it in, until I got involved with FIUTS. Being a facilitator, I had to make announcements, initiate conversations, come up with icebreakers, lead groups of students, help people connect to each other, and more. Slowly but surely, I learned to communicate more frequently and more confidently. It allowed me to share more ideas, stories, thoughts, and feelings, helping me explain things better, make more friends, give better advice, and comfort and encourage others. It allowed me to show others that I’m there for them, that I could be their voice when they might not have theirs ready yet. Speaking up and communicating lets me better express myself, gain more feedback, and in turn, helps me better reflect and understand myself.
Tips/comments for peer facilitators
Your FIUTS experience is what you make it. It’s home to me by now, and it could be yours, too — you’re always welcome! Everyone is! No experience? No problem. Get out there and go get some! Don’t forget that your fellow facilitators are just students trying to graduate, too. Facilitate with friends; it’s fun and helpful.
Facilitating is like a blank journal waiting to be filled with pictures, stories, and memories of fun-filled, adrenaline-rushed adventures with friends you never knew you had. You are bound to learn and grow with every step you take, so walk, run, hike, facilitate.