International Welcome Weeks, September 2018

Two Weeks of Programming and Welcoming More than 2,500 New International Students!

International Welcome Weeks is twelve days of programming intended to welcome all new incoming international and exchange students to the University of Washington! These programs range from Embark orientation sessions, social programs like a Seattle-wide scavenger hunt, and info sessions given by many of our campus partners. Below are some highlights from this year’s International Welcome Weeks.

All new international students on F-1 or J-1 visas participated in one of 14 Embark sessions, designed to help students connect with each other, prepare for their cultural transition to the UW and U.S., and learn more about maintaining their visa status while a student at UW.

Stationed in the HUB, the Welcome Lounge was the place for new students to bring any unanswered questions that they had about International Welcome Weeks, UW or Seattle. FIUTS Facilitators and staff were there ready to welcome any new students and their families to campus.


Campus Tours and Insider Tours were just two programs that were organized from the Welcome Lounge and occurred throughout the entire first week of International Welcome Weeks. These tours were led by FIUTS facilitators and interns, and introduced new students to the campus while also including some personal anecdotes from the tour guides. Insider Tours led students around the U-District surrounding campus, introducing them to nearby coffee shops, bubble tea shops, happy hour spots, and restaurants.

International Welcome Weeks features several on-campus activities that students can participate in that are free for them as UW students and introduce them to some fun locations on campus. This year we hosted Bowling and Games at the HUB, Canoeing at the Waterfront Activities Center, a visit to the Burke Museum, and a visit to the Henry Art Gallery.

This year’s IMA Experience included two tours of the Intramural Activities Building (IMA), and sports and activities including volleyball, football, soccer, ultimate frisbee, badminton, tug-of-war, and more!

International Trivia Night at the Central Cinema Theater boasted upwards of 150 participants this year! Our Manager of Community Programs, Samantha Novak, was the MC for the night, asking international and local Seattle trivia questions over several rounds. Participants enjoyed popcorn and beverages from the theater throughout the trivia event.

The Seattle Challenge is a Seattle-wide scavenger hunt that encourages students to explore five Seattle neighborhoods: Wallingford, Capital Hill, Downtown, Pioneer Square, and the International District. They are put into random teams of four and given clues that are associated with each neighborhood, then given three hours to explore before ending at the International Welcome Party at the Centilia Cultural Center in Beacon Hill. This challenge pushes students to get acquainted with Seattle public transportation systems, including both buses and the Link light rail, and allows them to make friends with new people!

The International Welcome Party at the Centilia Cultural Center was the official ending location of the Seattle Challenge, but was open to all new international students and their family members. This celebration featured music, food, and team awards for the Seattle Challenge.

This year’s Boat Cruise was on the Salish Explorer docked at Pier 55. Our students enjoyed views of Downtown Seattle on this scenic harbor cruise. There was pizza served, a dance party, and a lot of great opportunities for students to take photos!

The Community BBQ, hosted at Gas Works Park, was open to all new international students, scholars, and community members! It was an American-style BBQ at one of Seattle’s largest public green spaces, with a fantastic city view. We had a record number of FIUTS Facilitators and community volunteers serving food and beverages, and helping the event run smoothly. We also welcomed several sponsors to the BBQ.

Host Appreciation Night is an event for Homestay and Friendship Connections participants, along with the countless wonderful hosts that welcome international to students to Seattle all year. Happening at the Walker-Ames Room in Kane Hall this year, we saw a fantastic gathering of FIUTS staff and facilitators, hosts, and international students. We heard speeches from the FIUTS Executive Director, Era Schrepfer, the FIUTS Manager of Community Programs, Samantha Novak, the UW Vice President of Student Life, Denzil Suite, and a student who participated in a homestay program this Fall, Kanako.

Thank you to all of our student and community volunteers and campus partners who helped us create a welcoming environment for all new international students at UW!