Matthew Fisher is the current Chair and Treasurer of the FFIS Steering Committee. He and his wife Kassy hosted their first FFIS student in 2009 and Matthew joined the Steering Committee the following year. Their now eight-year-old daughter Margot took her first steps as a one-year-old in Beppu, Japan.
“Hosting international students from the UO is a wonderful and convenient way to stay connected to the international community, while also sharing a bit about our larger “American” culture and the unique nature of our local community, says Matthew. “It’s an amazing feeling to make those meaningful connections with those who, at times, come from radically different social and cultural backgrounds.”
Matthew is originally from Tampa Bay, Florida and has been a Lane County resident since 2006. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida in Philosophy and International Studies. He followed that up with graduate studies in Planning and Public Policy at the University of Oregon. Matthew is currently a stay-at-home father after working in the Springfield Public Schools Transportation Department.
Why did you become an FFIS Volunteer? Kassy and I had both done quite a bit of international traveling before we met. Actually, one of the things that I found attractive and intriguing about Kassy was the amount of traveling she did overseas and how much exposure she had to foreign communities and cultures. I guess you could say that it’s really important to me that we find a way to connect to the larger international community and gain some perspective outside the comforts of our own way-of-life.
What do you enjoy most about being an FFIS Volunteer? It’s an amazing feeling to make those meaningful connections with those who, at times, come from radically different social and cultural backgrounds.
Why did you join the Steering Committee? We had hosted a female UO student and learned quite a bit about FFIS at that time, including the steering committee and ways to get more involved in the “nuts and bolts” aspects of the organization. Having recently finished a degree that touched on nonprofit management, I was interested in what FFIS was doing and trying to accomplish. FFIS was a good fit for my passions and skill set.
What are some of your favorite memories of international students that you’ve met? Most of my favorite memories center around the sharing of food, drinks, and having conversations about commonalities and differences in our respective cultures, traditions, political and social environments, etc. You learn so much about yourself and your own culture when you explore someone else’s with them.
What memorable experiences did you have as a result from volunteering with FFIS? There are many, but the most memorable are the Fall Picnics that we hold each year. It’s quite remarkable to see all the moving pieces required to get a social event of that size off the ground and merge together to create a safe, engaging, and fun experience for all involved. We literally have individuals from all corners of the planet coming together, celebrating the wonders of diversity, and dissolving the barriers that keep many in the international landscape unnecessarily divided. Again, it’s the theme of making meaningful connection that’s most memorable.
Anything else that you would like to share about your FFIS experiences? I’d like to shed light on the wonderful group of individuals in our steering committee that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. This organization has been making connections between the larger Eugene area and the international student community at the UO since the 60’s. Having been involved as long as I have, I’ve seen firsthand what it takes to keep the FFIS engine chugging along. The commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm exhibited by each of our committee members lies at the heart of FFIS and really makes it all possible.