Do you live in the Seattle, Washington, USA area?
Consider hosting an international student through the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS)!
Below is a post from one of the FIUTS Board of Directors about his own experiences as both a student and a host.
By Greg Siegler
Photo Credit: Kasey Rackowitz
When I was a junior in college, I spent my winter and spring quarters overseas. At the beginning of January, my parents drove me from our home in Pennsylvania to the airport in New York, for the start of my journey to West Berlin. I was 20 years old, and it was my first time leaving the country without my family. Once at Berlin’s Tegel airport, I found my way into a taxicab, and used my rudimentary German to give the driver the address that was to be my home for the next few months. Berlin in January is cold and dark, and though I was excited to be there, I was weary and in a very foreign land. The driver took me to the address, a flat in a mixed industrial / residential area of West Berlin, where the two medical students who had signed up to host me lived. I got to the door of the flat and rang the bell … and no one was home.
It wasn’t too long before one of the med students got back from the store to which she had run for some errand, but an impression had already been made in my mind: I was on my own.
This August and September, over 2,000 international students and scholars will arrive for their first quarter at the University of Washington. While the applications and acceptance letters for those spaces are still flying back and forth, it is clear that the UW is experiencing an unprecedented increase in enrollment of international students. America’s universities continue to enjoy outstanding reputations throughout the world, and on top of that the whole world is crazy about learning English. These factors are resulting in a phenomenal influx of international students paying top dollar to the UW and our country’s other great universities.
Since 1948, a nonprofit organization called FIUTS — short for Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (www.fiuts.org) — has been welcoming international students to Seattle and the UW. FIUTS organizes a myriad of programs year-round for visiting international students and scholars, ranging from comprehensive orientation programs at the start of each academic quarter, to homestays, to leadership training, to the famous “Wednesday Lunch” series, which for over 60 years has served up all-American hospitality and peanut butter sandwiches.
FIUTS usually manages to find local hosts for just about all of the international students who request homestays for their arrival in this area. But with the recent unprecedented growth in numbers of international students, which may be just part of a wave that may continue for years, FIUTS needs to greatly increase its ranks of gracious local hosts. So please consider signing up to host a visiting international student or two in your home. The commitment is typically just for 10 days or so in September, and based on the experience my family had with our first-ever guest student — delightful Natsuka from near Tokyo, who brought us all manner of treats from Japan and now personally embodies most things Japanese to my three young kids — it’s an experience you’ll always be glad you had. And not only that — in my case, I took enormous satisfaction in being able to greet and welcome Natsuka on her arrival at SeaTac, knowing that she would not have to repeat my experience of flying across the ocean for her first experience in living abroad and finding no one home when she got there.
Greg Siegler is a member of the FIUTS Board of Trustees.