Facilitator Corner: Jenny Xu
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 Jenny Xu.
Name: Jenny Xu
Major: MCD (Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental) Biology
FIUTS Facilitator Since: 2015
Hi, I’m Jenny! I lived in Shanghai for the first seven years of my life before moving to Portland. I am a biology major, but I also love learning about other subjects, especially history. One of my favorite experiences in college was studying abroad in Tokyo last summer, because I had the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture. I hope to continue traveling in the future and learning new languages. My other interests include playing tennis and reading mystery novels.
What does it mean to be a FIUTS facilitator?
I joined FIUTS as a facilitator to find a community in which I can embrace and learn about my own cultures while respectfully and enthusiastically discovering unfamiliar cultures. The chance to interact with people from all over the world, to hear about their diverse stories and to share my own, is one of the most valuable opportunities of my college experience that FIUTS has provided me. As a domestic student, I have also appreciated the chance to answer any questions from the international students about life in the U.S. and to explain cultural differences. In addition to developing skills as a leader, the role of facilitator has taught me a lot about cross-cultural communication and cultural awareness.
Favorite FIUTS anecdote as a facilitator
I have facilitated many events so it’s difficult to pick a single memory. The first event that I facilitated as a lead facilitator was going to see the Nutcracker Ballet. Since we had a large group for that event, each facilitator led a smaller group to take the bus to Seattle Center and have dinner before the show. We had some problems with getting there and staying in contact. Minutes before the doors closed, there were still a couple participants without a ticket that we couldn’t locate. There was a point of stress and frenzy, but everything worked out and people were seated in time. Some of my favorite memories of FIUTS start with unexpected circumstances and chaos, but they always end with participants and facilitators enjoying the event together with good conversation and new experiences.
How have you grown as a leader through being a facilitator?
The role of facilitator helped me develop the ability to initiate conversations and exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds. Every event brings together a group of people with different cultures, fields of study, and experiences. As I facilitated more events, I found myself starting conversations with the participants more often rather than waiting for someone else to jumpstart the talking. Every FIUTS event is centered around people sharing stories from their own cultures, discovering commonalities while learning new things. As a facilitator, I try to make sure everyone feels comfortable and no one is left out of the conversation.
Tips/comments for peer facilitators
Always be flexible. Unexpected circumstances come up and also most events don’t have strict itineraries to follow. Be open to adjusting plans and to keep participants engaged. Communicate the plan well with other facilitators and the participants.
Try to start a conversation with each participant.
Have fun and try new things. I have experienced so many activities as a facilitator, like going to a baseball game or exploring different neighborhoods of Seattle, that I wouldn’t have on my own.