At the 2018 FIUTS Blue Marble Bash fundraiser on April 27, three inspiring students spoke about their experiences connecting with others through FIUTS programs. We'll be publishing the text of these speeches over the next couple of weeks so that those who couldn't attend the event have a chance to hear what these incredible members of our community have to say.
The following is the text of the speech by Jie Bai, a sophomore studying Public Health from Wuhan, China. Jie is a current member of the FIUTS Student Board.
Good evening everyone.
My name is Jie from Wuhan, China and I will be one of your speakers.
It’s such an honor to deliver a speech here tonight and I am so happy to see all of you here supporting FIUTS. Standing here today reminds me last year I was also a table ambassador, with the “Education” table. I was so nervous, I remember I was sitting with my ab muscles contracting, straight back for the whole two hours, and totally didn’t know how to answer when people asked me how do you feel about how FIUTS has changed you.
So today, I am going to try again to answer that question, excited to share with you how my two years of involvement with FIUTS changed me as a person. Honestly I didn’t know how and where to start because there are so many lessons and moments. For example, two months ago, we finished one of our biggest projects: CulturalFest. I was the committee co-chair for the CulturalFest Expo, an annual event featuring 35 booths representing different cultures and countries in a big ballroom with over 2,000 visitors. We often say you go around the world in a day. The year before that I was a member of the committee that planned this event, and a year later, I was now leading the committee.
I remembered seven in the morning 2/8/2018, I was helping out with setup, I was wearing the same orange shirt as last year, pulled my hair like a bun, I walked into the light open ballroom. I looked around at the empty booths that were waiting for their captains to decorate and kids to play, looking at the fancy stage, microphones that were waiting for the performers, and I thought: "We made it." All the memories, posters, outreach, hours and hours spent in meeting room, paperwork, and all I have done with my teammates in the last two years started flashing in my mind, I was just like “Wow.” Getting the chance to lead with my fellow students, I learned so much. I had never led a 20-people team before, and by the end of this process, I was confidently coordinating our group to put on this huge event and I was so proud that I was able to help and empower my teammates both professionally and personally.
I felt revived, aware, conscious, confident (well, not all the time but a lot of times). I started to be ever so curious and my experiences started to be more authentic. I started to think about questions like how my behavior affects others, who and what I should be responsible for, how I built my identity over the year, what’s my cultural narrative, how do I want to approach the world, what perspectives are out there and how do I learn them.
I started to do things for the sake of something, more thoughts involved than ever. It could be my belief, my value, my identity, instead of just for the sake of the work itself, for the sake of "resume building" and a thought of "I have to." I really like one quote from the writer Andrew Solomon that says, "forge meaning, build identity and then invite the world to share your joy." I recalled the little moments that I had with FIUTS, like leading a 40 people group of people from different continents to Mount Rainier, to the chocolate factory, to Green Lake, museums, exploring Seattle, helping out at International Student Orientation, talking to people who come from over 100 cities in the world, speaking up to 20 different languages, giving tours, talking about my own culture, even working in the office doing data entry and photocopying (well depends on how you look at it) -- all these small little moments made me realize that I was making meaning out of them, reflecting over who I am.
For those moments, I know everything we do is not just about building community connections, promoting student leadership and cross-cultural understanding but essentially about who we are, where we came from and where we want to go. And I believe all of us are somehow somewhere on the way doing so. Last but certainly not the least, I want to wrap it up with encouraging all to attend our community events. I guarantee you there’s joy inside of you waited to be discovered.