Category Archives: Student Essays

Overcoming Fears of Studying Abroad and Widening Outlooks of the World

By Karun Lelahuta, ELP Graduate, Chatham Graduate Student

Karun and friends – Academic Communication class

Karun wrote a speech to celebrate the his graduation from the English Language Program at Chatham University. He shares that studying abroad has helped him to widen his outlooks of the world, grow up and stand on his own, and love to make mistakes because that’s how he learns new things.

After studying at Chatham University for 9 months, I have gained much experience that guides me to become a person who I want to be.

Before I talk about the challenges I face during my study abroad experience, I want to tell you about my background. I was an unconfident person who tried to avoid groups of people. In daily life I used to be alone rather than hang around with my friends. My parents were concerned about me that I might have trouble when I grew up because I would have to work with many people. After I graduated from university in Thailand, they decided to send me to study abroad. My parents said to me, “You have to regain your English language skills” and they took me the United States. I can still remember how much I resisted to coming to the U.S. I thought to myself so many times day by day about why they wanted me to go to the U.S. just because of English. Finally, when they said to me that I could come back after 6 months, I agreed with them and came here to Pittsburgh.

Life in the United States was not as easy as I had thought. The first day I arrived in Chicago I had a horrible experience. I missed my flight to Pittsburgh, not because I was lost or I did not have enough time to transfer to another flight, but because of the TSA staff. She was very upset and shouted every minute, and she did her work very slowly, so I was stuck there for more than two hours and missed my flight. At that moment, I was so frustrated. I said to my mother who came along with me that I hated the United States. However, after that experience things got better. I tried to communicate with other students. At first, it was very hard to step out of my comfort zone. I was scared to make mistakes. I feared to communicate because my English was weak. I was afraid that I would lose my Japanese. However, I did not have any friend who can speak Thai, so it forced me to focus on my English. I am no longer afraid to face many challenges. I found Japanese friends. I overcame my fears.

I always think about the reasons why I came to the United States. Improving the second language is part of studying abroad. I think it helps me to learn other cultures and different ways of thinking. It helps me to have a wider outlook of the world after I have met so many people around the world. It helps me grow up and stand on my own because my family or my friends who always support me are not here, so I have to do everything by myself. It helps me love to make mistakes because I can learn new things. So, I always remember what my parents said to me “be brave and keep learning. You already have a chance to improve yourselves. Do not let it go.”

Don’t let your life drift away. Don’t let your emotions like fear control you – you have to control them. Don’t judge other people because you will learn something from them. Don’t fear to make mistakes. Don’t lose your hope because it will make you stronger. Step out of your cover and your will enjoy your new life.

I cannot say I already achieve all of my goals of studying abroad. I still have to learn many things to improve myself. However, I think to myself that I would not be a person who I am right now if my parents had never let me study aboard, and I  would not be joyful if I had never met my friends here. So I want to thank you to everyone who always supports me. Thank you.

Making the Best of What you Have

By Aristote Kipayko, ELP Graduate, Chatham Undergraduate Student

Asked to write a commencement speech to students graduating from the English Language Program, Aris writes, “We had better start looking at the light to see where we are going.” He urges the students to make the best of what they have now to have a great future.

About Aris: My name is Aristote Kipayko. I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I plan to graduate with a double major in Economics and Management Information System at Chatham University, class of 2021. I chose to get into business because I believe that everything nowadays is related to business and money. I am interested to know the real use of money and the different impacts it can have on any individual.

Aris’s speech:

I’m pleased to be with you at this time today for your commencement to a new step in your journey. Most of you have gone through a lot in order to be here with us. It may look easy, but only you can know the pain and suffering you have encountered.

I assume that many of you had the same problem as me when arriving in Pittsburgh and trying to settle. For me, the Pittsburgh weather was the first challenge I faced. It could get so cold in a day just as it could get so warm as well. I come from Africa and most of you might know or heard that it is usually way warmer in Africa in comparison to America. Adapting to the cold weather in Pittsburgh was really hard.  Determination and desire to learn more were the keys to help me overcome that challenge. It helped me to stay strong and stay focused in class.

Apart from the weather, food in America was also a big challenge. I was surprised that the quality of the food here would be so bad. I felt that I had led myself into a dark journey. I realized that I was eating more organic food back to my country, and it took me about two months to get used to the food here. In order to move forward, I had to make it a small deal and move on. Just like Ron Shayka said, “When all you see are shadows, you never see light.” We had better start looking at the light to see where we are going.

Once again, I want to congratulate all of you for your achievements. We still all have a lot to achieve, but this is also a big step. Just like Steve Jobs said, “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish.” Nothing is more important than always want to learn more. Success is a fruit from hard work and dedication. The future is in our hands. John Schaar wrote that “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made.” Therefore, you have to make the best of what you have now to have a great future.

The Best Environment for Learning and Growth

By Issareeyaporn (Wi) Praisuwanna, Chatham Undergradaute Student, International Student Ambassador


I’m Wi. I am a transfer international student from Olympic College in Washington State. All of my credits were able to transfer to the business program at Chatham University. I love Chatham University and Pittsburgh❤❤❤. The reason is that Chatham University provides me with a suitable program, small classes, friendly professors, nice friends with great diversity, but not too many international students, the best location, and the best environment for learning and growth.

– สวัสดีทุกคน

เราชื่อ วิ นะ เราเป็นเป็นนักเรียนต่างชาติมาจากประเทศไทยจ้า เราโอนหน่วยกิจมาจากวิทยาลัยแห่งหนึ่งในรัฐวอชิงตันนะ หน่วยกิจทั้งหมดของเราสามารถโอนมาใช้ในคณะบริหารของมหาลัย Chatham ได้ เราอยากบอกทุกคนว่า เราชอบมหาลัย Chatham และ เมือง Pittsburgh มากกกกกกกกกก เพราะนักศึกษาต่อห้องน้อย มีโปรแกรมที่เราอยากเรียน เจอเพื่อนจากหลายเชื้อชาติ แต่ก็ไม่ได้มีนักเรียนต่างชาติเยอะจนเกินไป มหาลัยตั้งอยู่ในที่ๆไม่วุ่นวาย แต่ก็ไม่ห่างจากที่ซื้อของมากจนเกินไป นอกจากนี้มหาลัยก็มีบรรยากาศที่ดี

Begin Your Study Abroad Journey with Chatham English Language Program

By Duyen Nguyen, Former ELP Student

Choosing Chatham English Language Program to begin my “Study Abroad” journey was the best decision in my life.

Going Apes in North Park

Xin chào,

Mình là Duyên Nguyễn, sinh viên của chương trình English Language Program khóa mùa xuân và mùa hè năm 2017 tại Chatham University.

Đối với mình được đi du học là một cơ hội rất lớn mà chính bản thân mình cũng không ngờ tới, nhưng lựa chọn Chatham University là trường để bắt đầu cuộc hành trình mang tên “Du Học” thì đây chính là quyết định đúng đắn nhất của cuộc đời mình.

Nếu để diễn tả Chatham University trong ba cụm từ, mình sẽ nói: khuôn viên tuyệt đẹp, giáo viên tuyệt vời, và chương trình học cực kì linh hoạt. Chatham University là một môi trường hoàn hảo để tập trung vào việc học, nhưng không những thế Chatham cũng có những hoạt động ngoại khóa để sinh viên khám phá vẻ đẹp của Pittsburgh. Có lẽ rất nhiều người sẽ nghĩ rằng chương trình Tiếng Anh thì khá là khô khan. Nhưng giáo viên và các hoạt động tại Chatham sẽ khiến mọi người có cách nhìn khác về những khóa học Tiếng Anh. Nhờ những chương trình học linh hoạt, học Tiếng Anh sẽ không đơn giản chỉ học về những ngữ pháp, từ vựng hay lý thuyết, mà giáo viên tại Chatham sẽ khiến các bài giảng trở nên thú vị hơn bằng những bài học về văn hóa nước Mỹ, những cuộc thảo luận sôi nổi đầy tiếng cười, và cả những bộ phim.

Trong suốt hai khóa học ở Chatham, mình có thể nói rằng đó là khoảng thời gian không thể nào quên được.

For more information: email or call (1)412-365-1388.  Visit our website at

Escape from Weekday Blues

By Chika Kitaghishi, Chatham Semester Exchange Student

“Find a partner for the upcoming presentation, and hand in a three page-long paper before the next class. See you in two days then.” I was so astonished and overwhelmed by how my first American class started. I remember how awkwardly I talked to an American classmate to ask her to be my presentation partner in the first class. However, it has been almost a month since then, and now I am getting to know how to manage time, deal with stress, and more than anything, enjoy all the differences of studying abroad. I love professors from the English Language Program and other departments here at Chatham, who are always there to support us, and friends I met at Chatham, who always blow away my depressions. Here is a picture when Chatham University surprised students with inflatables, and I and my conversation partner had a little great escape from weekday blues.


Speech for Equality: Have You Ever Asked Yourself What It Would Be Like If You Couldn’t Marry The One That You Love?

By Joyce Nguyen, ELP Student

Have you ever asked yourself what would it be like if you couldn’t marry the one that you love?

To be honest, I used to be terrified of gay people when I was a little kid, because my relatives told me that being gay was just wrong. Growing up, I became conscious of what was happening in my life. There was a significant thing that I learned, which was I couldn’t judge gay people because they were living a life that they belonged. There is no one to interrupt our lives; we could live a life whatever we want, but why couldn’t gay people live a life that they were born with?

During the time when I was in elementary school, I saw my friend, who is gay, being abused by another student. At that moment, I realized that I couldn’t watch my friend be abused just because of his gender, and I understood that I didn’t have the courage to see my fellow-creature being unequally treated also. We are all human, not only thinking by our head but also thinking by our heart. Although people all over the world have fought for human rights for many years, there are still some of those people who cannot bear gay people. Aren’t gay people human, too?

Yes, they are. The red blood is running in their body the same as us. They are normal; they are working hard to be parents. When it comes to being able to get a home, earning a place to live, being served by business, they should be treated like anyone else. As ex-president Barack Obama states, “We live in an America where all of us are treated more equally, because visiting hours in hospital are no longer depend on who you are and insurance companies can no longer turn somebody away simply because of who you love.” The knowledge about the LGBT community is and has been understood in the wrong way. Most people think being gay is a mental illness that should be treated by medicine or they need to meet a psychologist to become a normal person. Therefore, education plays an important role to heighten public awareness of the LGBT community.

Imagine that you were born with yellow skin. In everyone’s awareness, people who have yellow skin type are inferior, or have “mental illness”, or “something needs to be cured”. You use a ton of specialist cream to change your original skin into another color that you think could help you look like “a normal person”. You can tell the world that you are an ordinary person now, but you cannot change the fact that you are a yellow-skinned person. Think carefully, it must be extremely hurtful to hide who you are because nobody likes it.

I gave you this example to show that it feels painful, devastating to become someone else and not yourself. Could you imagine what would happen if you get married with someone that you don’t love? I could imagine that it feels awfully dreadful; I will live a wasted life, harassing myself for the rest of my life, watching the one I love from behind, I may want to ask myself just one question “What am I trying for?” Not only will it hurt me, but also the one that I don’t love will also feel awful. Normally, people can’t help who they fall in love with, so it’s unimaginable to say the LGBT community is not allowed to love people who have the same gender.

In conclusion, the LGBT community is not disease; they are trying hard to achieve their dreams the same as normal people. I have a dream that my children will be able to live in a world that I don’t need to tell them please treat your gay friends, your gay neighbors the same as us. Gay marriage becomes common day by day, and we should adjust ourselves to adapt it. It doesn’t feel right to get married to someone that you don’t love. Not only can gay people can feel how much it hurts, but also the normal people can feel hurt, too.

Speech for Equality: Feeling Happy Together with “Buraku” People

By Natsuki Sakagami, ELP Student

In our town, there are deep-rooted problems that have not resolved for a long time. In our town, there are people called “Buraku” that refers to the people who lived in a small area of the town. In our town, there are people who got a raw deal in spite of living in the same town. Why do people discriminate against them? Why can’t we treat them without discrimination?

Let me explain the history of the “Buraku” people.

A long time ago, Japan had the class system to separate people who handle the dead body of people and animals from samurai and common people. In that period, the death and the blood were perceived as dirty, so the “Buraku” people were also perceived as dirty. And unfortunately it had not changed for a long time. This is so wrong. Because they’re just like us, aren’t they?

In Meiji period, however, Japanese government abolished that system to get rid of our disparity, to unify our rank and to treat us equally. After many, many years, finally they are perceived as equal according to the law. Already 150 years have passed since the crass system was abolished. Already 150 years have passed since we should have treated them equally. And yet, even now, why do we treat them as before? Why can’t we stand in the same place? Why can’t we think of them as the same residents? Why do we have prejudice for them? “Do you want to change our future?”

I believe that people who can resolve our problem are only us. I believe that people who can change our future are also only us. I have a lot of dreams which would be enough. For now, I want to fulfil my dream with us. I want you to have same dreams with me. And then we can take our problem away. Our children will spend time together without thinking about the difference. We can go back and forth in our town without thinking about the difference. For now, let’s step into a new place where all people can feel happy together.

Speech for Equality: Would You Like to Make a Fair World Where All People Can Say, “I Love You So Much”?

By Seina Maeda, ELP Student

Have you ever loved someone? Do you have someone who you care about? I’m sure that all of us will answer yes, and I also say yes. It is natural to be attracted to someone even if the person is a man or a woman. However, there are people who cannot say “I love you” in a loud voice, because some of us reject them and do not allow them. They are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. Do you have a friend who is a left-handed person? Do you have a friend who has type AB blood? And then, do you have a friend who is LGBT? The number of people who recognize themselves that they are LGBT is the same number of left-handed people and people who have type AB blood. How many of us know this fact? Probably, most of us do not know about that, and we think that the number of LGBT people in Japan is not so high. The reason why we do not recognize the number is large is that we created the society in which they cannot mention they are LGBT easily.

There is one group who tackles the issue of suicide among LGBTs. According to The White Ribbon Campaign, sixty percent of the students who are tormented for their gender identity have attempted to commit suicide. Most of them have doubts that they are little different from other students when they are from thirteen to fifteen years old, and some of them cannot go their school and others experience bullying. Sadly, bullies are not only students, but also their teachers. Have you listened to someone say, “He is a boy but looks like a girl”? Have you told your children, “Be a man” or “Play like a girl”? If the boy or the girl is worried about their gender, our thoughtless action and word become invisible knives. As you know, words cut more than swords.

Today people get a better grasp about LGBT people little by little in Japan, but many of them still carry their true color under cover in their heart. We have people who are given up by their family after confiding they are LGBT. We have people who commit corrective rape because their family cannot accept that fact. Do you know these facts? If you don’t know about them, please pay attention to these facts, please think over people around you once again, and please don’t laugh at them.

People often tell their children to respect others, and not to make fun of others. Why do we forget about these things? It is the next generation to change their future life, but it is not them to improve our present life. It is us. When you are going to your company tomorrow, let’s care about our colleagues more than today? Even if we cannot take any action for LGBT people, we can just accept and watch them in our heart. Would you like to make a society where all people can take a walk holding their lover’s hand? Would you like to make a fair world where all people can say, “I love you so much”?

Speech for Equality: A First Step to Build a Good Relationship with Zainichi Koreans in Japan

By Chika Kitaghishi, ELP Student

“We all are equal, regardless of race.” These words were always kept in one great Japanese man’s mind some 70 years ago, who worked in the Korean peninsula in the period when Japan ruled Korea and the humanity of Korean people were looked down on so badly. It has been 72 years since Korean people were freed from the empire of Japan. However, we, Japan and Korea, still have some conflicts over historical and political issues. Today I want to bring you to see one aspect of Japan, which is about Korean residents in Japan. They are called “Zainichi Korean.” I believe we, the young generations, need to handle these fragments of what the war left behind.

Firstly, let me briefly explain what made Zainichi Korean not want to go back to Korea but to live in Japan. While Japan had ruled Korea from 1910 to 1945, most Korean farmers had no choice but to move to Japan in order to raise their living standards. After the moment, when the Asia-Pacific War was about to begin, the Japanese government began to force a lot of Korean people to move to Japan. They were the bondages of seriously hard labors. Some Korean men were even forced to join the Japanese Army. On the one hand, some Korean women were forced to serve as sexual partners for Japanese personnel. They were called “comfort women,” which is now one of the most controversial issues between us, Japan and Korea. The number of such Korean people is estimated to be about 60 million. After Japan surrendered, most of them fortunately could go back to their own country, Korea, but some could not. One of the reasons for this is that their descendants who were born in Japan did not have a command of the Korean language. What was worse, the Japanese governments restricted them from taking property out of Japan. Therefore, they could do nothing but to keep living in Japan. That is how some Korean towns were born and then gradually evolved as good places for Korean BBQ over Japan.

However, their struggles of this dark history haven’t actually ended. Zainichi Koreans have been struggling with unequal treatment. Over these recent years, they have suffered from hate speech by an ultra-right wing party which does not tolerate privileges for Zainichi Koreans. Korean people are scared by their abusive, discriminatory, and intimidating words.

The saddest factor for me was, as Zainichi Korean is categorized as the minority, we are not just the majority, but the silent majority. Have you ever happened to see this news on TV? The news always showed the right-wing party doing hate speech around Korean Town and at the same time, they also showed Japanese people just staring at them from a distance or passing by without any interests. We are too apathetic about this issue our country has. Superficial knowledge can just sweep this tragedy of Zainichi Koreans. Sadly, however, at the moment, Japanese school doesn’t provide this modern history class as a mandatory class. I think learning about them is the first step to a better understanding of Zainichi Koreans and to change the stereotypes we might have.

We all first have to know the implications behind this issue.

We all need to take actions to make a better place for each other.

We all need to step into a different community from our own.

We all need to be advocates for each other.

What is wrong? What is right? We will find out when we try to learn about it.

Beyond all the historical and political issues, there is always something we can do to build a good relationship with Zainichi Koreans. I believe what makes people happy is the intimacy we have for each other. I hope more of us take a close relationship with them.

Graduation Speech: Improve English and Deepen Knowledge We Need to Be a Person

By Natsuki Sakagami, Joyce Nguyen, and Chika Kitagishi, ELP Students

Conversation Hour, Summer 2017

Good afternoon, our beloved teachers and international friends. We’re Natsuki, Joyce and Chika. It seems like just the other day we were awkwardly going inside the classroom. I cannot believe how time flies so fast. We feel very accomplished to complete the summer ESL course. We all came from different places and overcame so many things together. However, we cannot forget that it is all thanks to our experienced, sophisticated, and energetic teachers here at Chatham University. Today we would like to express our gratitude to all our teachers, Ms. Sylvia, Ms. Linh, Ms. Mina, and Ms. Trisha.

Firstly, Ms. Sylvia, we really appreciate all you gave us. You have always given us a lot of useful tips such as American culture, slang words, and some sites where we can study English ourselves. Actually in the beginning I did not have much confidence in speaking English in your class, but you always praised me when I said something in the class, and created a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere, so I was be able to be confident. You are so kind, and we feel you are like a real mother to us.

I would like to say thank you to Ms. Linh, because she has helped me a lot since I first came here. It was particularly an incredible moment for me when I realized I would be taught by a Vietnamese professor. Whether she remembers or not, the first question she asked me was “Are you getting used to eating American food?” I was truly moved by her understanding for a completely new student like me. As we see her having a command of English which is not her first language, she showed us the possibility that we can succeed in learning language.

Next, we would like to appreciate Ms. Mina. Thank you for giving us a lot of homework that made us stay up late, but we know that you always believed in our potential. All the assignments and work in class were very challenging for us; however, it definitely made our skills improve and we feel confident about moving forward on to the next semester, thanks to you. You were always caring about us individually so that we could feel like we can always count on you. We thought of you not only as a greatest professor, but also like a sister we can always feel free to talk to.

Finally, I’d like to thank Ms. Trisha. I’d like to say both sorry and thank you to Ms. Trisha. Sometimes we froze in the class, especially when you taught us how to quote from the articles. We even often moaned like children, complaining about how long we have to write in a final essay. However, you always kindly accepted all of our complains and crazy ideas, like writing an essay about Twinkies. It is not too much to say that all the funny stories you gave us to wake us up were the highlights of this summer course.

Ms. Sylvia, Ms. Linh, Ms. Mina, and Ms. Trisha, we cannot thank you all enough about everything you have done for us not only to improve our English, but also to deepen the knowledge we need to be a person of the world. It is the end of the summer semester, however, and at the same time, it is the beginning of a new stage again. Chatham international friends, let’s promise to all our greatest teachers here that we will grow up more and more to be someone who can make them proud of us! Thank you very much.