For the past three years, FIUTS has partnered with community members Fortunato Vega and Luke Tracy on the Take the World to Work Program. The FIUTS World to Work Program is a week-long series of events and workshops that connect students, both Americans and internationals, to professionals in their fields of interest. The culminating event is a networking reception, a festive event that creates a safe opportunity for students and professionals to meet and learn from each other.
Tonight, as I reflect on our third annual networking event, which included more than 100 students and professionals. I am so impressed by the program’s growth in just a few short years. But more importantly, I am struck by what it is not. World to Work is not an internship service. It is not a formal mentorship, a placement program, and no academic credit is offered.
Students and profesionals take part in World to Work because they are interested in connecting with people who share their passion and want to learn. It goes to the core of the FIUTS mission to connect people across borders, languages, and cultures to find common ground.
FIUTS mission to engage students and others in cross cultural experiences might seem simple, but it truly resonates with people who share our passion for understanding, diversity, and leadership. Thanks to everyone who took part in this years’ FIUTS World to Work Program.
CulturalFest is one of the largest events of the year at FIUTS – it takes an incredible amount of work to produce a cultural exhibition, a silent auction/reception, and a show featuring 9 acts all in one day! As a small nonprofit, it seems like a huge investment in resources for a single event. But CulturalFest is way more than a simple variety show. In fact, CulturalFest goes to the heart of our mission in three important ways.
First, The FIUTS Student Board produces the event. The Student Board is an important leadership development opportunity for 10 elected students each year. They participate in every aspect of the event, from fundraising to overseeing the audition process. They work for months on event planning teams alongside the FIUTS Board of Trustees and volunteers. As student leaders, they are learning about philanthropy, civic engagement, and project management on a large scale.
Second, more than 150 students from around 100 countries participate in the event. They are performers, they work behind the scenes, and they lead groups of their peers as they produce country exhibition booths to share their culture. Every one of these student leaders is working as part of a diverse team, setting goals and building new friendships that cross national and cultural boundaries.
And last, CulturalFest brings our community together. Hosts, alumni, community partners, and others join us for this one night to see our work in action, meet students, learn about a place they’ve never been before, and celebrate together. If this doesn’t meet our mission, I don’t know what does.
FIUTS Performance, 1960’s
Booth at CulturalFest, 2008
Japanese Tap Dance, CulturalFest 2009
FIUTS students have been participating in planning & performing in “cultural shows” since the 1950’s. The earliest Cultural Shows were presented in the old Meany Theatre, before it was torn down in the early 1960’s. From 1967-69,FIUTS produced the annual International Show event in the Seattle Center Opera House. After a 20-year lag, the FIUTS Student Board began producing the event as CulturalFest in 2000. But at FIUTS, a cultural show is much more than just a schedule of dance performances.
Welcome to the first post on the first ever FIUTS blog, peanutbutterdiplomacy! I hope that this blog will grow to become an important place for our community to share stories, learn more about each other, and deepen their commitment to FIUTS‘ work to build cross-cultural understanding and engage future leaders in activities that promote understanding, respect, and peace.
The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) is a nonprofit organization that was founded on the University of Washington campus in 1948. Our mission is to build international awareness, cross-cultural communication, and informed leadership through programs that connect students with local and global communities. We work with more than 5,000 students each year, as well as hundreds of local community volunteers and alumni around the world, who share our commitment to promoting respect, compassion, and diversity in our community and around the world.
The name peanutbutterdiplomacy comes from a 30+ year FIUTS tradition, Wednesday Lunch, a regular gathering of hundreds of students on the University of Washington campus. At Wednesday Lunch, our community of students and others from more than 100 countries comes together to share sandwiches and reach across national and cultural boundaries to find common ground, learn more about each other, and share their cultures with people very different from themselves.
peanutbutterdiplomacy will collect blog posts from FIUTS students, community members, alumni, and others around the world on topics ranging from volunteer opportunities to culture shock, from upcoming events to study abroad, and everything in between.
Thank you for reading – and for traveling the world with FIUTS!