Category Archives: International students

Exciting News!

On July 1, the office of international affairs will officially become the Office of Global Engagement!

We are still here to help you with education abroad, international student services, and cultural programming, we just have a new name that better suits what we do 😊

The Office of Global Engagement prepares students to be world ready, and fosters respect for diverse cultures, identities, and opinions locally and internationally.

Starting July 2 you will begin to see emails from GlobalEngagement@chatham.edu and we encourage you to use this email address starting on July 2.

We’re looking forward to providing you with opportunities for global engagement!

Big Decisions in Life

Rena Yamashita

English Language Program

Fall 2022

There are numerous people in the world today who can speak English. As I do not excel in anything, I was afraid that I would have trouble finding a job in the future if I could only speak English to some extent. I was leading a mediocre university life, but I decided that if the university was recruiting international students, I would do something I might never experience again in my life, and it would give me a chance to rethink my thinking and way of life. There are two main reasons for studying abroad. The first is to improve my English skills. Second is to experience various things and develop myself. There are still many things I don’t understand at all, but I hope that by the time I return to Japan, I will have grown as much as possible.

Do you think English will be useful in the future? I began to think that my English skills were not good enough around the first year of junior high school. When I became a junior high school student and had to communicate in English, I felt very miserable because I could not speak fluently. The reason why I feel so bad is because I had lived in Hong Kong and had daily conversations in English, but when I came back to Japan, I had no opportunities to speak English and my English skills quickly deteriorated and I could no longer speak it. Unlike other subjects, I studied English without giving up because I thought that studying a lot of vocabulary and grammar now would help me in the future. Until I entered college, I thought that if I studied English in college, I would surely be able to speak it fluently. However, I realized that the opposite was true and that I would have to work hard and study hard to speak English. There I decided that the only way to improve my English was to study abroad in the United States. I hoped to improve it and work in a trade-related field where I can communicate with foreign countries in the future.

Unlike in Japan, students are more aggressive and to do anything eagerly in the US. Since I was a child, I was influenced by other people’s opinions, and I did not express my own opinions and had no will of my own. When I was a freshman in college, I took a Global Study class, and Professor Gakiya’s words stuck with me. She had previously taught at an American university and was able to give us some specifics about the level of student participation and how advanced the education was at that time. In fact, most American students speak up and learn by themselves. Hearing that story, I felt miserable and wanted to go to the U.S. to take classes and gain that positive attitude. It has been about three months since I came to the U.S., and as I took classes with people from various countries, I felt firsthand that their positive attitude is different from that of Japanese students. I feel I have been growing by being stimulated every day. In addition to classes, I interact with local people by participating in events held by the university, which is also a good stimulus for me. For example, local students who are studying Japanese and we Japanese students have a chance to meet and talk with each other once a week. I am very grateful for this opportunity to learn about the U.S., and it is also a great way to study English. You can also travel around the U.S. to observe the national character and visit tourist attractions to experience other cultures. I believe that by interacting with many local people in this way and experiencing things that cannot be experienced in Japan, one can grow unknowingly.

I realize the only way to develop myself is to keep trying new things, but I am often disappointed by my lack of self-confidence. However, when I think back on the reasons for my decision to study abroad, I can see that I should not dwell on it and that I need to be more proactive and active. The important underlying question for me is: Why did I come to the U.S. to study? It was the negative thoughts inside me that keep saying the he wrong thing and make me feel embarrassed, and I worry about what other people think of me. I would like to adopt a more positive way of thinking. I also want to improve my English skills and become a person who can play an active role overseas. How much can I grow during this short period of studying abroad and how much time can I spend in a productive and fulfilling way? In my mind, studying abroad is one of the major decisions of my life, so I hope to spend each day of this important time without wasting it, and to grow as a person.

Reflection on my Study Abroad Experience in the US

Nodirjon Kobulov

English Language Program

Fall 2022

Next week will be exactly 4 months since I arrived in the United States. If you ask me why I wanted to study abroad and  why I chose the United States of America and why I left Cambridge International University, which is one of the best schools in Uzbekistan, I will without hesitation say the past 4 months has been a huge step towards success in my life and studying abroad has been a great learning experience for me.

As many say, studying abroad gives a person great skills. It is no exaggeration to say that I have found out what I am capable of and found my identity in America. I have learned to be grateful and take advantage of every opportunity that is given to me. I have realized that learning from world-class and experienced teachers from different countries can have a special effect on a person. Studying abroad has allowed me to learn about the culture of not only my current country but also different countries. I met new friends and it has helped me to achieve everything I dreamed of.

Despite the fact that I have lived in America for just 4 months, I have gradually got used to this atmosphere. I know it wasn’t easy and it’s still not easy. There are times when I have to get up early to go to school, wait for the bus on cold days, and run as fast as I could to avoid missing the bus. However, I can clearly say that all these events have made me me happier and more resilient. I believe that if I were in my own country, it would be very difficult for me to find such happiness or success despite difficulties. I have learned to inspire and motivate myself from every detail and from every place.

In my free time I enjoy learning more about America, exploring historic buildings and history. I enjoy watching deer come to my yard and try to get as close to them as I could, but I never could. I especially love watching the breathtaking sight of airplanes buzzing in the air when the weather is clear. I improve my knowledge of English by talking to people, and I get the information I do not know by talking to people. I have been trying to take advantage of the facilities that have been given to me as much as I can.

I couldn’t imagine when my friends who studied abroad told me that they made so many friends. At that time, I made a promise, ” I will definitely learn and make educated friends abroad. ”  When I summed up my 4 months in America, the number of my friends increased significantly. I am currently making friends from countries such as America, Korea, Japan, China, Afghanistan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan. I am learning about different countries, cultures and values. Most importantly, after talking with them, I feel that there was a great growth in myself through their fluid thinking and good relationships with people. Especially when I listen to lectures about American culture and literature by highly experienced teachers during my ELP classes, I am proud that I get a lot of information about America and get to know more every day.

Currently, I am in the United States and through all the experiences and knowledge I have gained. I have learned that every step I take to see everything around me helps me to understand what original beauty means. New opportunities are opening up for me, and I have a different world view. Studying abroad has opened my eyes. Life is not as easy as we think, but I am happy to make the most of these opportunities given to me and work for the future believing that everything will be fine. If asked for advice on studying, I would tell everyone to come and study here so that they can enjoy such happiness. I am sure that studying abroad is very useful and worthwhile, and believe me, all the knowledge and experience you gain from such an atmosphere will serve you well for the rest of your life.

A Dream of a Better Tomorrow

By Mohammad Omar Ahmadi

English Language Program

Fall 2022

It was August 15, 2021.  Everything seemed normal in the morning, but things suddenly changed later in the day. I went to my work like I was doing every other day in the morning. Everyone was talking about the news Afghanistan’s president fled. In the past few months, the government situation was uncertain because every day we witnessed fallen cities to the Taliban. Only Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan,  and a few other cities near Kabul were governed by the previous government. Then in the afternoon, we head of the Taliban’s entrance to Kabul. My father was working with a U.S. media company in Kabul, which finally succeeded in helping us leave Afghanistan after many attempts. It was hard to leave Afghanistan physically and mentally.

Education was always a priority in my life. After graduating from high school and earning an associate degree in technology, both my homeland’s history and the ongoing political conflicts in Afghanistan motivated me to pursue my higher education in International Relations and Diplomacy. As a young Afghan, I always dreamed of being able to one day, as a seed for a new Afghanistan, open the door to peace in the midst of war and terrorism by choosing to pursue my education. It was a dream that I, and a thousand of my classmates, had for Afghanistan. It was not just a dream, we believed that one day it would happen, and our homeland would move towards the light of peace and prosperity. But all of a sudden, it got dark. On the 15th of August 2021, everything collapsed, despite the entire twenty-year journey of fighting against the Taliban. My family and I had to emigrate for our lives.

After defending my monograph online from the United States, my four-year study of international relations and diplomacy came to an end, and I graduated from university in exile. It was a strange state of joy and pain. Like any other human being, I was happy that I finished my bachelor’s degree and was gradually coming closer to my dreams, but it was painful that the ideal I had envisioned for my homeland no longer existed. I had my diploma in hand, but I had lost my homeland.

The four-year journey to receive my bachelor’s degree was not easy for me. Even as a young child in the family, I always had a responsibility to financially contribute to the family in addition to my studies. Therefore, while continuing my college education, I started working with a telecommunications company in Afghanistan. I worked with this company daily from morning to afternoon for a small salary, and I went to university in the evening after work. This was how my entire four-year journey went. I remember the nights that I was awake until late at night to attend to my studies and then got up early in the morning to go to work in order to support my family. It was a difficult time, but the dream of a better tomorrow was the motivation that kept me moving and working hard to complete my education.

I always tried to find good educational opportunities for my future. Even when I was in Afghanistan, I dreamed of being among the graduates of the Fulbright Scholarship, and I was always striving to qualify for an international scholarship to pursue a master’s degree abroad. I have come to understand that Afghanistan needs more people with sufficient knowledge of the world and the realities of our country. Our homeland is far from being the caravan of progress and development in the world, and the main reason for this distance is the illiteracy of a large number of Afghans. I considered it my responsibility in Afghanistan to study and be as literate as possible.

When we immigrated, all my dreams for Afghanistan were gradually becoming memories. During my first months in the United States, I had the impression that living in an immigrant land consisted of only constantly working just to keep the family alive. The situation in my homeland took away all my hopes for the future since it was hard to believe that one day it would change again. The hopes for Afghanistan’s future are diminishing day by day. But my concerns for the future of Afghanistan are still present, and with each day they grow more.  I have decided to continue my path and chose Afghanistan’s future. Whatever happens, I still hope and believe in a better tomorrow for my homeland, so I will continue my education. As a former student of international relations, I have learned that regimes like the Taliban that impose themselves on nations will not last long. From my understanding of the contemporary history of Afghanistan, it is clear to me that these times in history are passing, and people will one day decide their own destinies again. With this belief, I have decided to continue my education to change my own destiny.

A Great Friend I Met in Pittsburgh

By Yuki Katayama 

English Language Program

Fall 2022

“How great view is it?” I thought in my mind. I was impressed by the magnificent scenery, and I wanted to show the beauty to my precious friend. 

In May 2022, I came to Pittsburgh. Since then, I have visited many restaurants to eat American style hamburgers or tacos, watched Jurassic Park at AMC Waterfront 22, and been to Point State Park to watch marvelous fireworks on the Fourth of July. However, in July, I felt little tired of Pittsburgh because I ended up going to almost all the fun places in this small city. I started to seek new places that would excite me to visit. 

One day in July, a classmate from my first semester in the U.S. invited me to do something different. “Do you know Prism which is an international student community? Why don’t you go to bible study with me tonight?” she asked. I suspected bible study would be challenging for me since religious stuff was not familiar to Japanese people like me. Yet, I expected to gain a new experience and decided to participate in it. “Sounds cool! I want to go there!” I responded. After classes, we went to a house that held bible study sessions. I was somewhat nervous before entering the room. There were three volunteers, among whom Mike was especially gentle and friendly. He is American, but spoke slowly for us to help us understand the meaning of the sentences in the bible. The topic of that bible study session was “LOVE.” I don’t remember the details, but I learned the importance of giving unconditional love to those close to me. The value was brand-new and greatly inspired me. My first day with Prism was unexpectedly amazing, and I wanted to keep participating in their activities. 

The following Wednesday, I went to bible study again. At the beginning of the study session, Mike asked us, “Do you believe in resurrection?” I didn’t understand the word and asked, “What is the meaning of resurrection?” “Resurrection is the return of dead people to life,” answered Mike. It made sense, but I was still confused because I didn’t believe in “resurrection” at that time. However, the more we read bible, the more I understood and was convinced of the meaning of the word. “Resurrection refers to soul or spirit coming back to life, not to a body,” Mike said. Even though the idea was new for me, I felt it faithfully. I thought about one thing in my mind. My dad passed away when I was a junior high school student, and I cried heavily. Despite feeling sad sometimes even now, I could start believing that my father’s spirit came back and a person who has his soul was born after his death. I feel like my life is a little brighter than it used to be thanks to the bible study at that day.  

One Saturday in August, a bike trip took place around the west area of Pittsburgh. It was such a hot day. I was anxious about my bike skill since the last time I rode a bike was when I was a junior high school student. Anyway, the trip started. I started catching a fresh breeze while riding a bike. I sang my favorite song at a volume that no one could hear. After a while, I felt hungry. I asked Mike, “When is the lunch time, Mike?” “Oh Yuki, are you hungry now?” responded Mike and he took a snack out of his knapsack and handed it to me. The snack was tasty, and I felt “Mike is such a considerate person!” again. At the end of the trip, I took a picture with him in front of a fountain in Point State Park. 

In October, we had a Niagara Falls trip. It took about four hours by car, and I got a little tired before seeing the fall. Also, the most disappointing factor was that Mike was not there. On the other hand, the moment I saw the waterfall, my fatigue was blown away. “What a beautiful scenery!” I was moved by the view I’d never seen before. The water was transparent like crystal and splashed vigorously from the top to bottom. That night, I wanted share pictures of Niagara Falls with Mike and sent them to him. He responded 5 minutes later. “Wow, they are so beautiful! I hope you had a good time, and we can go there together next time!” he said. I was glad to see the messages and smiled in the room where there was only me. I have a sister in Japan, but I was feeling as if Mike is my brother in the U.S. 

After belonging to Prism, my life in the U.S. has completely changed. Due to it, I have learned new perspectives from bible study and have traveled to many places which I’d never visited. Also, above all, what I am grateful to Prism is giving me an opportunity to meet a loving man, Mike. His kindness has warmed not only my body but also my heart even in severe cold winter. I will return to my country in a month, but before that, I want to express my gratitude to Mike for sure. I’m quite certain that I will never forget him. 

Appreciation

By Mithaq Alshammari 

English Language Program

Fall 2022

Do you appreciate things in your life? I am writing this while it is raining outside, and thinking about everything that has happened in my life. How did I get here? Why did I get here? When did I get here? And lots of questions – some might matter and some might not. 

I am in the 20th year of my life studying abroad in the United States far away from my home, my family, and my friends. Is it hard? Yeah sometimes. Is it a great experience? I would say loudly “Of course!” My way of thinking has changed. I became more responsible and mature, and the most important thing is that I understand myself better after coming here. I am more aware of my desires and my interests compared to when I was back home. For that reason, I appreciate the opportunity to study abroad.  

In addition, I started to think about my future more deeply and manage my plans for a better future. In April 2022, I opened my first business in something that I am passionate about, which is clothing design, with zero experience in marketing and accounting, but I did it at a young age. I design abayas and scarves which are the Saudi women’s traditional clothes. I started to promote my products on the social media platform Instagram, and there were some difficulties attracting customers. However, with the support and the help that I received from my family and friends, I overcame those difficulties. After that experience, my appreciation for the good, supportive, loving people in my life grew.  

 I remember something my dad said to me when I was 14: “Feel the value of the things around you, appreciate the value of the smallest things in your life.” He always gives me advice about life, but this was different. I never forget these words. I started to appreciate the smallest to the biggest things in my life: appreciating the picturesque nature and fresh air, appreciating a cup of coffee early in the morning, appreciating the presence of someone who understands you, appreciating work and studying, appreciating chocolate, appreciating good and loving people, appreciating sleep with a calm mind, appreciating security and safety, appreciating love, appreciating a supportive family, appreciating music and songs. 

Why is appreciation important? It makes us feel safe and peaceful, which is what frees us to do our best work. Personally, when I started appreciating everything in my life, the little details as well as the big important aspects, I became a peaceful person, calm, positive, and comfortable. I noticed that I don’t get bothered or upset by small things as usual. However, appreciating the things you have in your life does not mean that you do not aspire to be more and better. On the contrary, appreciation gives you the motivation to aim for the best. And if you don’t appreciate the things that you have, you will focus negatively on the things that you don’t have and this will make you as a person who doesn’t appreciate any thing in their life, less productive, and compare your life to other people’s life, which is unhealthy. 

I wish all people can take a pause and start searching for things in their life that are worth appreciation. It might be difficult for some to feel that appreciation because they might be taking things for granted. Especially things that repeat and are part of a routine. However, don’t let repetition take away the observation, don’t forget how wonderful your friend is, how delicious your coffee is, or how comfortable you are in most of your things, and do not allow the coldness to prevent you from appreciating the good things around you under the pretext that they are ordinary. Ordinary things are often great otherwise you will not continue to live with it. Give yourself inner peace, and satisfaction that there is nothing more beautiful than the feeling of peace.  

Overcoming Struggles and Hardships of Studying English

By Rion Tomomasa

English Language Program

Fall 2022

International Education Symposium, November 2022

Almost 3 months has already passed since I came to the US. It is only 3 months in my life, but I have experienced a lot. I have studied English since I was a junior high school student because Japanese students must study English in Japanese education. However, this education is not enough for me to speak English fluently because students mainly study English grammar and writing. There are no opportunities to talk to native English speakers. I want to be a flight attendant in the future, so I decided to study English at university when I was a high school student. However, my university education is not an ideal environment to focus on studying English. Gradually, I became lazy to study English, so I lost my goal without my noticing. When I became a 2nd-year student, I noticed that I could not keep going like these days to achieve my goal. Therefore, I decided to come to Chatham University to improve my English. 

After I came here, I felt like I was going to falter many times because of my English skills and my personality. When I met my roommate for the first time, she asked me, “Do you have a nail file?” I could not understand what she said because I did not know the word “nail file.” I was confused and I could not answer her immediately. And then she said, “It’s ok.” I was shocked that I could not communicate fluently with an English speaker. I fully realized my lack of English skills at that time. After that day, I was confused when listening to English, speaking English, and writing English again and again. I cried every night because I did not like myself then. I could barely keep up with my classes. However, I gradually get used to listening to English and started to feel better. Nowadays, there are some words that I cannot understand, but I can make sense of almost all of what my teacher means. I try to achieve my goal to make sense of what is said in English in normal conversations.  

Nevertheless, I still have time when I feel depressed. When that happens, I remember the phrase from my mom, “Learning to push a little harder is a powerful thing.” My mom gave me these words after I came to the US because I wanted encouraging words to overcome the times when I am worried about my English skills. My mother went to Canada for about one year to study English like me when she was a university student. She could not speak English at first, but she was able to speak English fluently at the end of studying abroad. Now, she is my English teacher at home. I am proud of my mom and want to be like her. I got confidence from her many times when I felt depressed. My family encourages me every time, so I want to show my family how I have grown by studying abroad when I go back to Japan. This is one of the goals that I try to do my best here. 

One day, I took notes for this essay. I usually write notes before start writing an essay to sort my head out. I put the note on my desk just like I always do, and then I went out to take my class. After I went back to my room, I found a note from my roommate. While reading the note, I was moved to tears in spite of myself. In the note, there are many cheerful words to me: “Know that you have your roommate on your side.” I noticed that I’m not alone and I have such a wonderful roommate. I struggle to build relationships with American friends because I could not gather the courage to talk to them even my roommate. If I have any worries or questions and I want to ask my roommate, I could not do so due to my hesitation. I’m not brave enough, but now I just do it without thinking too much thanks to my roommate.  

Leaving home is hard. Moving across the world is even harder. However, I have many memories here. I have made friends from different countries, known the difficulties of studying a foreign language, learned the different ways of thinking in each country, and experienced many precious memories that I can never forget. I cannot write down everything in this essay, but  I can say with confidence that I’m doing my best now! Finally, I’d like to share my favorite words “Don’t forget, beautiful sunset needs cloudy skies.” It means there are good times and bad times in life or after you experience hardship, good things will happen to you. If I want to cope with and overcome something, I have to make an effort. Everyone can do everything if they have courage. 

Cooking Lesson: Tacos! (American-style)

Cooking with Kate!

On Tuesday June 7, Kate provided a cooking lesson to our summer English Language Program students. Students were able to vote in advance on what dish (American cuisine) they wished to learn to make. For this lesson the top choice was: Tacos!


During the lesson students learned about the difference between traditional Mexican tacos, and the American counterpart.

We began with making our own guacamole (recipe below); before putting together our tacos. Students were able to personalize their taco and try different types. At the end of the lesson, students took home taco kits to make their own at home!

Guacamole recipe:

Ingredients:

  •  2-3 ripe Avocados
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Red onion (cut in small pieces)
  • Tomato (cur in small pieces
  • 1 lime, cut in half and juice ½ into mix.
  • Salt ¼ tsp
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Jalapeno (optional)

Cut avocados in half and remove the pit. Scoop out avocado with a spoon and mash in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, and salt. (add cilantro and Jalapeno if you wish). Chill and serve!

Taco (American) recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef; or 1 lb chicken, cut to bite sized pieces.
  • 2/3 cup water (150ml)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix
  • Hard shell tacos or soft tortillas
  • Toppings
    o Cheddar cheese
    o Onion
    o Tomato
    o Lettuce
    o Sour cream
    o Jalapenos
    o Cilantro

In a skillet, cook beef or chicken over medium-high heat until cooked. Drain extra oil/fat from beef (do not put in sink!).

Once cooked, stir in seasoning mix and water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

If making hard-shell tacos: Remove tacos from packaging and place on cookie sheet, put taco shells in oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) 5-7 minutes. Remove carefully- they will be hot!

Spoon meat mixture into tacos (hard shell or tortillas) and add the toppings you wish. Enjoy!

Support for Ukraine

The office of international affairs is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ukraine. We support our students, their families, and friends who are affected by the invasion, and stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

How can you help?

Post your support for Ukraine, condemning the war on your social media, #standwithukraine, #notowar

Wear blue and/or yellow colors to show your support for the people of Ukraine.

Write your congressional members request support for Ukraine and her people, including the more than 1-million refugees.

Avoid mis- and disinformation: check the source of the information you are sharing/reading and use only reputable sources.

Resources for those outside of Ukraine:

https://how-to-help-ukraine-now.super.site/

NAFSA- a resource for international education, has a page for immigration recourses for Ukraine.

Local organizations in Pittsburgh: