Join the Office of International Affairs for International Education Week from November 18th to 22nd!
“International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.” (www.iew.state.gov )
This week will feature events celebrating international education and student experiences. Join us for our planned events:
When: Monday, November 18th – 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Where: Carriage House
Join the Modern Language department for International Karaoke! Sing in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish!
When: Wednesday, November 20th – 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Where: Carriage House
Bring a group of friends to play Jeopardy! The subject is international trivia and the winning team will win prizes. There will be free food!
When: Thursday, November 21st – 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Where: Carriage House
This mini-symposium will celebrate International Education week, as well as the benefits of international education and exchange. This year’s theme is “International Education: Legacy and Promise.” The symposium will feature presentations and posters by students relating to this year’s theme.
International Tea: Morocco
When: Friday, November 22nd – 11:30 to 1:00 pm
Where: Carriage House
Celebrate this year’s Global Focus country at International Tea: Morocco! Bring tea from your home country and share cultures with another person. Show others your own culture and tell stories about experiences you have had abroad. This will be a great way to learn from others and experience something new.
“I never thought that when I was 20 I could set foot in America – the dream country of so many people. But on a beautiful day, Chatham gave me that opportunity when they sent a congratulatory letter to inform me that that I received an International Student Ambassador Scholarship offered by Chatham English Language Program.
Time in America was truly a wonderful experience. The programs here are very creative and interesting: we presented, played games and explored the world outside the classroom. In addition, every Friday we have interesting field trips, which allowed us to explore nature and visit famous places in Pittsburgh. The teachers accompanied and guided us enthusiastically. The teachers here are the best and the most dedicated. They patiently taught us from the smallest things with all their hearts.
Friends here are really diverse and interesting. I had the opportunity to talk and make friends from many countries around the world. We ate together, played together and talked happily. Another thing that impressed me was the nature here. Chatham is a quaint and picturesque school with endless green grass. The air is fresh and clean. The people are very friendly. Chatham is a great option when you study abroad. I had a precious and unforgettable time here. If you intend to study abroad, I highly recommend Chatham.
By TuongVy Le, International Student Ambassador, ELP Scholarship Recipient
I never once thought I would be able to study abroad or study in the US, but Chatham University offered me an International Student Ambassador Scholarship from from the English Language Program. It was the best experience ever for me. Before attending the program, I was a very shy speaker, but everything changed thanks to the program at Chatham, and my English-speaking skill has improved ever since.
Studying in my hometown does not include going on field trips, so the program was such an eye-opening experience for me. History was never my favorite subject, but the U.S Culture class was so interesting, and that’s what I love the most about this program. It was the best summer I’ve ever had; I’ve grown a lot from this experience. I am so grateful for the friends I’ve made during the time at Chatham.
Even though it was the first time studying in a different country, I never felt lonely or helpless at Chatham. Everyone there is super friendly, you can always get the help you need anytime. I only studied in Chatham for approximately three months, but Chatham felt like my second home. Chatham University offers the best environment for you to study and grow as a person, you will never regret going to Chatham!
BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS, ENTHUSIASTIC TEACHERS, AND AMAZING FRIENDS AT CHATHAM UNIVERSITY
Ngoc Pham, International Student Ambassador, 2019 ELP Scholarship Recipient
In the past, I never thought that I could go to the US for an overseas education, but Chatham University gave me a great chance through the English Language Program International Student Ambassador Scholarship. During the 10 weeks at Chatham University, I learned a lot of things. Through the English Language Program at Chatham, you are cannot only improve your English language skill, but also explore US culture and form new relationships with other international students. I have changed a lot, from a person who is always shy to speak English to a confident communicator, from a family-dependent to independent person, and from a passive to now a more lively person. All of these changes occurred during my three months in the U.S. To me, Chatham is not only the university to study, but also the place to discover myself and the environment to grow.
At Chatham University, you will be able to receive full support from enthusiastic teachers, experience well-designed learning programs, and interact with amazing friends, and study in a place where you always feel comfortable like a second family.
Chatham University is one of the best choices for your education, you will never feel regret when making that choice!
Tôi chưa bao giờ nghĩ mình sẽ có cơ hội được học tập tại Mỹ dù là trong một chương trình ngắn hạn. Đại học Chatham đã cho tôi một cơ hội đáng quý và thật may mắn hơn cả là tôi đã nhận được học bổng Đại sứ Sinh viên Quốc tế từ chương trình Ngôn ngữ tiếng Anh tại đây. Trong suốt gần 3 tháng ở Mỹ nói chung và đại học Chatham nói riêng, tôi đã có cho mình rất nhiều những trải nghiệm đáng giá và đã học được rất nhiều điều. Thông qua chương trình Ngôn ngữ Anh tại đại học Chatham, tôi không chỉ cải thiện được các kỹ năng tiếng Anh của mình mà còn được tìm hiểu thêm về văn hoá Mỹ, gặp gỡ các bạn sinh viên quốc tế đến từ nhiều quốc gia khác nhau để có cái nhìn toàn diện hơn về thế giới bên ngoài. Đại học Chatham đã giúp cho tôi có điều kiện để tự khám phá bản thân, thay đổi chính mình. Những giảng viên tâm huyết, những người bạn quốc tế tài năng, những bài giảng thực tế, môi trường học chủ động, khuôn viên trường cổ kính và còn vô vàn những điều thú vị khác bạn sẽ có thể khám phá tại Chatham.
Đại học Chatham là một sự lựa chọn mà tôi không hề cảm thấy hối hận và tôi tin bạn cũng sẽ cảm thấy như vậy!
The German classes that I took with Dr. Martina Wells from the Modern Languages Program at Chatham University have been my favorite classes. This summer I was lucky enough to spend two and a half months studying abroad in Germany. I stayed in a small town, Lohr am Main, situated about 50 minutes east of Frankfurt. The people I stayed with have been my family’s friends for all my life, but I hadn’t seen them in quite a few years. They have two sons, Max and Felix, who became my ‘adopted’ brothers for the summer. Max is my age, so he was kind enough to introduce me to all of his university friends! Over the eleven weeks, I made so many great friends who provided me with memories that I’ll never forget.
The class that I took was German History from 1900 to 1970 and was held at the University of Wuerzburg. We met once a week on Tuesdays, but the class also offered optional extracurricular events like wine tastings and historical tours of the city. I really enjoyed the class despite it not being a part of my major, but I found that most of my learning occurred outside the classroom. My main reason for visiting Germany was to practice and improve my German speaking skills. I was able to do this on an everyday basis, whether it be ordering food or asking a passerby for directions. And while I did do my fair share of touring around (I was able to visit France, Luxembourg, and Belgium), I found that my favorite things to do revolved around whatever the locals did on a daily basis! In finding out that they, too, enjoy spending a day outdoors and then grilling hamburgers amongst friends, I realized that despite distance and language, we are all the same at our core.
• Went to a Champion’s League soccer game
• Visited the Cologne Cathedral and even heard someone playing the organ inside it
• Toured the Residenz in Wuerzburg, which contains the largest ceiling fresco painting in the world
• Toured Luxembourg city and a castle in the country regions of Luxembourg
• Visited the World War I Memorial at the Battle of Verdun
• Enjoyed walks in the woods where I would stumble upon either a herd of goats or beautiful secluded church
• Became a surprise guest in a primary school’s English classroom
• Toured the European Parliament Building in Brussels, Belgium
• Watched the first two stages of the Tour de France in Belgium
• Ate the most wonderful Belgian waffle off of a street vendor, mmmm
• Tried seven different white wines native to Wuerzburg. Wuerzburg has Germany’s second, third, and fourth largest vineyards and specializes in white wines. The wine cellar underneath the Residenz holds up to 700,000 liters of wine!
• Watched people surf on the river Isar in Munich
• Stayed at a youth hostel and made some friends from the UK and Australia
• Visited the World War II Labor Camp Dachau
This study abroad experience pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to grow as a person. I would highly recommend anyone to study abroad if they get the chance!
The bus ride from the Madrid airport to the city of Salamanca was quiet; the only sounds were snores. We had all been traveling for more than eighteen hours, and had little to no sleep. The “us” included myself and four other girls who attend Carroll University in Wisconsin. The five of us made up the Global Health Science (GHS) group, and we were together for the entire month. We arrived in Salamanca and were taken to our respective living arrangements. My “flat” came with three other students. As I walked in I was greeted with “Are you the American?” I was the only American in our apartment. Jacob was from the Netherlands, Alice from Taiwan, and Michelle from Germany. This was something I had not expected and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed living in a multi-country flat. My roommates were very inviting, happy, and interested in American life.
My flat was in the middle of beautiful Salamanca. The city was filled with shuffling of shoes on the narrow winding roads, laughter and chatter, and kisses on both cheeks. The city was overflowing with restaurants, cafes, markets, cathedrals and shops. It was breathtaking with old architecture, stone roads, parks, and lively people. My schedule while in Salamanca was class every day (M-F) and other activities four days a week (MWFSat). Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday were our independent days, in which I typically spent doing school work, exploring the city, or spending time with my roommates.
Some of the many things I did in Spain included:
Tour of tapas: we went to restaurants around Salamanca with a local and were given different tapas to experience Spanish food (one of the best things we did).
Traveled to Segovia and Avila. Segovia had a castle where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand lived and aqueducts that were built in the year 98! Avila was a city surrounded by a large stone wall.
Learned Flamenco and Salsa dances.
Visited la Clerecía church towers which overlooked all of Salamanca and contained many stork nests!
Went to Málaga, Spain for a weekend visiting the beach on the Mediterranean Sea.
Visited the Old University of Salamanca founded in 1218, in which Christopher Columbus attended. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world.
Enjoyed churros with chocolate at Salamanca’s art deco museum.
Went to Madrid for the day. While in Madrid we went to two museums and a park. I liked Salamanca way more than Madrid.
Visited San Esteban Church as well as several other cathedrals.
Celebrated the week of Salamanca with fireworks over their river, and a light show on their major buildings.
I did these activities with my GHS group and I became good friends with all the girls We did hang out outside of school and our activities. We went to shops, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, the swimming pool, markets, and we would even hang out in my apartment. I was very thankful to have such supportive and fun girls to be with. My classes were Aspects of Public Health and Alternative Medicine. Both classes were taught by wonderful instructors and were very eye opening. Going to class while in Spain never felt like a chore, I was always very excited to learn something new. My time in Spain was quite lovely, and I will never forget this amazing experience.
When will you study abroad? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Monica Snyder is a Chatham student currently studying with USAC Study Abroad in Florianópolis, Brasil. Check out her blog at https://monicainfloripa.wordpress.com/
Hello readers! Today’s blog entry is going to be a little longer than usual. I will catch you up on my adventures, but I’m also going to talk about the day to day life here in Florianópolis, Brasil. Since Carnaval, I have gone on hikes, futebol (soccer) games, and school has started (yes for real)! My adventuring picks up with hiking Morro do Lampião (Lamp Hill), though it was more like a mountain… The trail was about 30 min long and it was all uphill. It was completely worth it though, because the view was the most breathtaking think I have ever seen. I got a 360 degree view of the island of Floripa, and it was, like I said, just breathtaking. That same day, 16 of us from USAC (program I’m doing the studying abroad through) went to a Brazilian futebol game! Everybody came to my house, where I made brigadeiros and beijinhos (coconut brigadeiros), and they got to meet my vovó and tia. The game was one of Floripa’s home teams Figueirense vs Brusque (another team from Santa Catarina). The game was another great exposure to Brazilian culture, and if you think Pittsburghers are sports fanatics… come to a Brazilian soccer game. Figueirense won 2 x 0. A week later, I got to go to another soccer game, but this time it was the Clássico: Avaí vs Figueirense! Both teams are from Floripa, so the rivalry is VERY intense. We sat with Figueirense, which was the visiting team at Avaí’s stadium, and my goodness were the fans passionate. It was an amazing time, the the atmosphere was so energetic, even with the final score of 0 x 0. I also got to go to a Lutheran Church, and it happened to be with people whom my mom grew up going to church with. I loved meeting them, and I loved meeting college students who are strong in their faith. Classes also finally started! UFSC started classes after Carnaval, so this year was a little later than normal, but while my friends were telling me about spring break, I was telling them about the first day of classes… I have 4 classes and they are going really well. I’m continuing my Portuguese and learning about trade and development from a Brazilian perspective. I am also taking a Brazilian film class, where I get to learn more about Brazilian culture through film, which is a new and interesting perspective (and no, we are not watching City of God or Rio). I am LOVING LOVING my time here in Brasil, but in this blog post, I wanted to write about differences that I notice between the US and Brasil. My study abroad experience is different from normal experiences: I am a citizen of Brasil, I have family in the city where I am studying (which means I am living with them), and I already know the language (though I still have a lot to learn). Being a citizen means that I have a Brazilian passport, I have to register to vote (voting is required by law here once you turn 18), and I have a CPF (Brasil’s social security number). Acquiring some of these documents has been a very long road. I have been here for 3 months and just got my CPF number. The bureaucracy in Brasil is very different from in the US, it takes a lot longer to get things processed and approved. Brasil also has a free healthcare system, meaning that doctor appointments and hospital visits are free. This is great news, but this also means that wait times are very, very long. Someone here was telling me that they made an eye doctor’s appointment in 2016 and just went to the appointment 3 weeks ago. Floripa is considered one of the wealthiest cities in Brasil, yet there are still people sleeping on the streets and people selling things while cars are stopped at red lights. Public transportation is used by everyone in Floripa, yet it takes me almost an hour to get to UFSC by bus because of traffic and lack of connecting roads. Electricity is very expensive in Brasil, so air conditioning is not widely available like in the US, which is a challenge since we are in a subtropical climate (most buses do not have AC). Dryers are also very rare to find in a Brazilian household. Because Brasil’s economy focuses mainly on agriculture, a lot of goods are imported into the country. Many Brazilians have Samsung phones because Apple products are so expensive. $1 is equal to about R$4 (the real is Brasil’s currency). Floripa also has A LOT of traffic, due to lack of connecting roads (there is about one way to get to a place) and one bridge connecting the island to the continent (Floripa is on the island and partly on the continent of Brasil). There is a 2nd bridge that is considered a landmark, and it is under construction, but it has taken many many years and another bridge will not be built in the near future due to public funding. Even with all of these differences, I am still in love with Florianópolis. The natural beauty of the island can’t be found anywhere else in the world. And the people, the people are so kind, friendly, helpful, and happy. They enjoy life and love to share their Brasil with you. These people and this place will forever have a place in my heart. Floripa isn’t perfect, but where is? I’m making memories with my American friends, Brazilian friends, friends of my mãe (mom), friends of my vovó, and friends of my tia. I thank God for placing me here in Floripa to be with my family, and learn more about a myself and a country I love. I’m learning what it means to be a Brazilian. In the next edition of Manezinha, I will tell about an upcoming birthday and travels. Beijos
Oi amigos! Esse capítulo tá mais longa do que o normal. Vou falar sobre minhas aventuras, mas também vou falar sobre o dia a dia aqui em Florianópolis, Brasil. Desde o Carnaval, fiz trilhas, assisti jogos de futebol e a escola começou (sim é a verdade)! Eu fiz a trilha do Morro do Lampião, mas é mais como uma montanha … A trilha foi 30 minutos e era toda subida. Mas valeu a pena, porque a vista era a coisa mais linda que eu vi na minha vida. Tinha uma vista de 360 graus da ilha de Floripa. No mesmo dia, 16 de nós da USAC (programa do meu intercâmbio) foram para um jogo de futebol brasileiro! Todo mundo veio à minha casa, onde eu fiz brigadeiros e beijinhos, e eles conheceram minha vovó e tia. O jogo foi um dos times de Floripa: Figueirense x Brusque (outro time de Santa Catarina). Vemos mais da cultura brasileira, e se você acha que os Pittsburghers são fanáticos por esportes … venha para um jogo de futebol brasileiro. Figueirense ganhou 2 x 0. Uma semana depois, consegui ir para outro jogo de futebol, mas desta vez foi o Clássico: Avaí x Figueirense! Os dois times são de Floripa, então a rivalidade é MUITO intensa. Nós sentamos com o Figueirense, que era o time visitante no estádio do Avaí, e eram os fãs apaixonados. Foi incrível, a atmosfera era tão enérgica, mesmo com o placar final de 0 x 0. Eu também fui na igreja luterana, e onde tinha pessoas com quem minha mãe cresceu frequentando a igreja. Eu adorei conhecê-los e adorava encontrar estudantes que fossem fortes na sua fé. As aulas também finalmente começaram. A UFSC começou as aulas depois do Carnaval, então este ano foi um pouco mais tarde do que o normal, mas eu vi fotos dos meus amigos nas ferias da primavera, e eu mandei fotos do primeiro dia da escola… Eu tenho 4 aulas e tô gostando. Estou continuando meu português e aprendendo sobre a economia de uma perspectiva brasileira. Eu também tenho uma aula de cinema brasileiro, onde eu aprendo mais sobre a cultura brasileira através do cinema, com uma perspectiva nova e interessante (e não, nós não estamos assistindo Cidade de Deus ou Rio). Estou ADORANDO o meu tempo aqui no Brasil, mas neste capítulo do meu blog, eu queria escrever sobre as diferenças que eu noto entre os EUA e o Brasil. Minha experiência de intercâmbio é diferente das experiências normais: sou cidadã do Brasil, tenho família na cidade onde estou estudando (estou morando com elas) e já falo a língua. Ser cidadã significa que tenho um passaporte brasileiro, tenho que me registrar para votar e eu tenho um CPF. Obtendo alguns desses documentos foi… longo. Estou aqui há 3 meses e recebi o meu número de CPF agora. A burocracia no Brasil é muito diferente da dos EUA, demora mais para as coisas sejam processadas e aprovadas. O Brasil também tem um sistema de saúde gratuito. Esta é uma ótima notícia, mas isso também significa que os tempos de espera são muito, muito longos. Alguém aqui estava me dizendo que eles fizeram uma consulta de oftalmologista em 2016 e só foi para a consulta há 3 semanas. Floripa é considerada uma das cidades mais ricas do Brasil, mas ainda há pessoas dormindo nas ruas e pessoas vendendo coisas enquanto os carros são parados. O transporte público é usado por todos em Floripa, mas eu demoro quase uma hora para chegar à UFSC de ônibus por causa do trânsito e da falta das ruas de conexão. A eletricidade é muito cara no Brasil, então o ar-condicionado não é nos todos os lugares como nos EUA. Secadores também são muito raros de se encontrar em uma residência brasileira. A economia do Brasil se concentrar principalmente na agricultura, então muitos produtos são importados para o país. Muitos brasileiros têm celulares Samsung porque os produtos da Apple são muito caros. $1 é como R$4. Floripa também tem MUITO transito, não tem estradas de conexão (há cerca de uma maneira de chegar para um lugar) e uma ponte conectando a ilha ao continente. Há uma segunda ponte que está em resturação, mas levou muitos anos e uma outra ponte não será construída em um futuro, por causa do financiamento público. Mesmo com todas essas diferenças, ainda estou apaixonada por Florianópolis. A natureza da ilha não pode ser encontrada em nenhum outro lugar do mundo. E as pessoas, as pessoas são tão gentis, amigáveis e felizes. Brasileiros aproveitam a vida e têm amor para compartilhar seu Brasil com você. Essas pessoas e este lugar terão um lugar no meu coração para sempre. Floripa não é perfeita, mas onde é? Estou fazendo memórias com meus amigos americanos, amigos brasileiros, amigos da minha mãe, amigos da minha vovó e amigas da minha tia. Agradeço o Deus por me colocar aqui em Floripa para estar com minha família e aprender mais sobre mim e um país que eu amo. Tô aprendendo como é pra ser brasileira. No próximo capítulo da Manezinha, vou escrever sobre um aniversário e viagens. Beijos
Embarking on a Chatham field experience introduces you to your new host culture, making it a great preparation to go abroad again on a longer program. You have enough freedom on these shorter programs to experience the day-to-day of living abroad and get infected with the commonly known ‘travel bug.’ On the field experience your faculty, in my case, two American professors from Chatham, knew where they were and how to operate in the host country. There’s a sense of ease that comes along with that. When abroad on other programs, teachers of your host country invite you in, as an insider to the society. This link gives you a different experience from being invited in by an outsider, however experienced.
Two or three weeks in a host country is a significant, meaningful experience, but you will be seeing that country, at least in my case, in more the role of a visitor, as opposed to when you stay for an extended period. The way you relate yourself to your new surroundings begins to change significantly as you stay for an extended period in the host country. You may feel more inclined to take the leap, and relate yourself to your host country through understanding the language, cultural nuances, and other things when you stay for longer.
In my case, I had already completed three months abroad before joining a short-term field experience with Chatham, a little over two months in Italy and one month in Korea, yet these shorter experiences in each culture did ultimately prepare me for my semester in Prague, and shaped my experience there greatly. Through all of my experiences abroad, I learned a lot about being self-sufficient, and independent. I also learned a lot about flexibility, and how advantageous it is to be the most adaptable version of oneself possible.
When I was in Prague, I was game for just about anything because I realized what I would take away from my experiences abroad—the things I would remember most, and mean most to me. I could see what changed me the most significantly as a person then, and wanted to keep pursuing those things when in Prague. Those usually were the things that I never would have done before going abroad. Basic things like being confident in myself, my judgement, and just generally feeling good in my own skin, all grew from my willingness to put myself out there all the time.
Melanie Landsittel is majoring in Visual Arts and will graduate in spring 2019. Melanie is a student assistant in the Office of International Affairs.
International Education week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences.
Students, international and domestic, are encouraged to participate in the events scheduled during this week. At the events, international and domestic students can communicate with one another and learn facets of one another’s’ culture and make new friends.
On Monday November 12th, the Office of International Affairs partnered with the Chatham University Modern Language Department for “International Karaoke.” Offered each semester, this popular events brings together students to sing in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, as well as other languages.
Students in the Modern Language classes are able to practice by singing in their target languages. With well over 100 in attendance, International Education Week started on a high note.
On November 13th, students were invited to the international conversation hour, in the Mellon solarium. The international conversation hour provides topics for students to discuss in order to develop understanding of each other’s cultures.
Later that evening, the Chatham University Vira Heinz Scholars presented on “American Abroad: Social Identity and Positionality in a Global and Domestic Environment.” Students, Miranda Boyden (studied in Italy), Janelle Moore (Costa Rica), Erion Morton (Japan) and Kaylee Spitak (Japan) studied in the summer of 2018 with support from the Vira I Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership. The VIH program “prepares women for tomorrow’s global challenges by offering a unique opportunity for international experiences, leadership development and community service.” Students receive $5000+ scholarship for an international educational experience.
The Chatham 2018 CEE, American Abroad: Social Identity and Positionality in a Global and Domestic Environment involved roundtable discussions around social identity and its impact on students’ experiences at home and abroad.
Thursday November 14th was a cold and rainy day for trivia! OIA hosted the International Jeopardy contest in the Carriage House, and tested students’ knowledge of world history, geography, and global facts.
With quite of few interested in playing, students played in teams of three to pool their knowledge. With challenging questions, such as “Which country lists internet access as a human right?”, students played through five categories. Though last coming into final Jeopardy, Team Brazil, won with a high bet, and the correct answer. Students Dylan Jacquard, Vinni Muniz, and Mana Soda claimed the title of International Jeopardy Champs!
The final event for International Education week was a welcome respite from biting cold. On the day of the first snow of Fall 2018, the staff of the Office of International Affairs met students both local and international to celebrate diversity with a hot cup of tea. The International tea party included flavors from the strong and bitter Irish breakfast to the mellow sweetness of tropical mango and chocolate. This helped warming the attendees and made the conversation flow, everything from food, to internships, to study abroad, to difference between the United States and other countries was discussed.
Many students coming and going from class also stopped by to join conversation and enjoy a hot beverage.
Over the course of IEW, Chatham students across campus were able to engage in international and intercultural learning.
A large screen glows in the pitch-dark classroom. It is eerily quiet.
Someone yells, “Don’t go in there!”
Others frantically chime in.
I peek around the screen on my podium to see 23 transfixed students, wide-eyed and hands covering mouths.
On the screen, the ceiling explodes. An alien tumbles onto the floor as scientists and soldiers scream as they scramble for safety.
Screams ricochet in our room, followed by nervous laughter.
This is US Culture and Cinema, a 100-level culture-based course that students take to learn about American culture, values, traditions and so much more through the lens of top ten classic American films.
Pre-reading activities include summaries, background information handouts and short video clips.
For each film, post-reading entails heavy discussions and a set of carefully crafted handouts designed to get students to reflect and synthesize information they’ve learned. Each handout builds upon their understanding and skills, starting with formulating their opinion, close critical reading, and summary honing. Film synopses are gapfill with word banks, giving students a chance to understand the story while they learn practical academic and technical vocab. Another handout doles out juicy film trivia followed by lively discussions in which they justify their favorite items. Same for quotes and film excerpts—with these they explain the humor, or infer why the character says something, and they act out parts of scenes as intoned in the film. There is a vocab match with words, phrases, and idioms and images. The Best Summaries has them choose the best summary out of 5 or 6 similar film genre summaries, specific character names removed.
While they actively watch the film, they follow along while completing questions with multiple choice answers. Questions are kept as simple as possible to prevent students from missing important moments. Images of the main characters are shown on this handout, along with images and maps of ideas or places at the end. The While You Watch questions and answers are designed to help students follow along with ease an otherwise potentially confusing film.
Each week, I send short video clips related to the film, director, film theory, and technical elements such as angles & shots and sound used in the film for them to watch and take notes for discussion. They then discuss the ideas they found most interesting and explain why. Class participation is typically very lively.
I have 3 criteria for choosing films. It should reflect American culture, values, traditions, and/or social issues. The film should also be a little older so that there is less chance of students having seen it. And finally, it should be in the top 10 or 20 for its genre.
This semester we watched Kramer vs Kramer (Drama), Singin’ in the Rain (Musical), Rear Window (Thriller), The Shining (Horror), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Western), Aliens (Sci-fi/Action), Big (Comedy).
by: Sylvia Shipp, English Language Program Lecturer & Student Advisor
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