Facilitator Corner: Lucas Colusso
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 Lucas Colusso.
Name: Lucas Colusso
Major: Human Centered Design and Engineering
FIUTS Facilitator Since: October 2016
Hello! My name is Lucas, and I am originally from the city of Santa Maria in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. I did my undergrad and master's in Design in Brazil and worked for a few years before starting my doctoral studies at the University of Washington. Outside of my academic activities, I am pretty active, practicing different sports and outdoor activities. Like most Brazilians, saying that I love to watch and play football (the sport played with your feet) is an understatement; however, in Seattle I could learn more about American football, now one of my favorite sports (to watch). Also, I have had a great time hiking and camping around the state of Washington! I was particularly happy to discover that poisonous snakes stay away from the Washington coast — snake-free hiking trails and camping sites make me happy. :-)
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
First, as a facilitator, I can communicate and exchange with students from various countries, allowing me to become more empathetic towards diverse ways of seeing the world and other ways of thinking. Studying abroad in a multicultural institution such as the UW, as well as being a part of FIUTS, are unique opportunities to expand my network and learn from different cultures from all around the world. It is clear that this experience gave me more awareness of my beliefs and views, as well as an opportunity to re-examine them.
Second, and most importantly, volunteering at FIUTS allows me to give back to the international academic community that I am a part of, by doing the vital work of easing other students’ adaptation. I too was once new to a different country, far from friends and family. Therefore, I try to create a friendly environment while facilitating FIUTS events so that international students feel welcomed and accepted.
Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
The Huskies’ tailgate party was probably my favorite FIUTS event so far. I was given the task to grill for a hungry crowd of international students. I do love barbecue and hot dogs, as well as cooking, yet grilling for hundreds of students from all over the world was challenging -- my past experiences at grilling were limited to small and quaint friends or family gatherings. Adding to the challenge, I was responsible for grilling beef sausages, which were preferred over the turkey and vegan options. Students kept coming back for a second or third round of hot dogs, so I think it is fair to say that those beef sausages were well grilled! Sharing food is always a great way to spark conversations and new friendships -- as students filled up their bellies, the fantastic exchange of cultural understanding throughout the afternoon prepared the ground for a fun football match where the Washington Huskies crushed the Cal Bears 38 to 7.
How have you grown as a leader through being a facilitator?
Given that language is a critical barrier in intercultural interactions, and that it is impossible to learn other languages immediately, I believe that curiosity is paramount for multicultural understanding. Communication doesn’t flow only through proper grammar; I would argue that sharp curiosity and openness to otherness are more important for good communication. I try my best to amp up my curiosity prior to FIUTS events, which has not only helped me discover other cultures, but also to become a better facilitator, as I make it clear to students that their perspectives matter to me.
Tips/comments for peer facilitators
Having a proper communication channel between facilitators and students makes event coordination a lot easier. Right at the start of a FIUTS event, I like to create a group chat to be able to send reminder messages to students regarding gathering locations and times. However, this strategy is not bulletproof! Very often, FIUTS tours students through beautiful distant sites around the Pacific Northwest, and sometimes these sites do not offer reliable phone or internet networks. Always have a plan b! Nothing beats good old handwritten notes with times and places for meeting! Other than that, kick back and have fun with your fellow students!