Noor’s Art

By Marina Razgarina, ELP Lecturer

Noor showing her art

Delicate, surreal, and incredibly personal. Noor’s drawings make you reflect deeply on what it is you see in them and what is left beyond your comprehension of a mere visitor in her mysterious artistic world. Going beyond the obvious, they make you think of ideas and emotions she felt while drawing those. They make you wonder about the people and stories that left a trace in her heart and found embodiment in these incredible pieces.

Noor sharing her art in the High Intermediate Listening and Speaking class in fall 2016

Seeing her art brought me closer to understanding Noor’s life and personality. It made me see her not just as a student, but also as an incredibly talented person with her own goals, dreams, and struggles. Noor’s self-expression became her artistic aspiration. Genuine and complex emotions expressed so intricately in her drawings left me feeling sensitive and vulnerable in a whole new way. The way Noor shared herself and her world through her drawings touched my heart and made me open to deeper connections with the world and people around me. It truly was extraordinary and profound experience.

New International Initiatives: Pittsburgh Pathways and Agreement with Kansai University

By Linh Phung, ELP Director

Dr. Atsuko Kikuchi and Dr. Simon Humphries from Kansai University during their visit to Chatham this  February

The English Language Program (ELP) at Chatham has seen a drop in its enrollment due to the decline of Saudi students enrolled in ESL programs nationally. However, there is a silver lining to this decline. First, it highlights the imperative need of diversifying the student population for a sustainable program. Second, it has pushed the program to seek more resources from the University to market the program. We appreciate the investment from the Office of Communication and Marketing to advertise the ELP to various markets, including Latin America. Third, with the commitment from Dr. Finegold and the administration to international education, we have seen a high level of activity in this area. In fact, thanks to Dr. Finegold’s vision and international connections, we are close to launching a new program: the Pittsburgh Pathways.

The Pittsburgh Pathways is a program of study that prepares non-native English speaking students to attend a degree program at Chatham or another university. It offers a combination of ESL courses and academic courses. Students can earn up to 36 credits towards an undergraduate degree at Chatham or another university while improving their English. The Pathways students will be housed on the Eden Hall campus and take classes on both the Shadyside and the Eden Hall campuses. We expect the first cohort of at least 30 students in fall 2017. We plan to expand each year to bring more international students to Chatham and local universities. More information can be found at www.chatham.edu/pittsburghpathways

We are also pleased to announce that an informal agreement has been reached with the Faculty of Foreign Language Studies at Kansai University in Japan, which plans to send about 15 Japanese students to Chatham for a few semesters to study English and take other academic courses, starting in February 2018. This is the result of intensive relationship building efforts from AVP International Affairs Chris Musick and the Office of International Affairs team as well as the commitment from Dr. Finegold to diversify the student body in the ELP to ensure that the ratio of Japanese students in each class is capped at 20%.

With these initiatives (together with the existing intensive English courses, the Conversation Partner Program, and the International Student Ambassador Program), we hope to continue to contribute to the University by providing high quality English instruction and services to non-degree and degree students, functioning as a pathway to degree programs for many students, and adding diversity of cultures and perspectives to the community. If you have connections and ideas that can help to make Chatham even more international, we would really love to hear from you.

My Journey to Chatham: From ESL Teaching to International Admission

Alia Schindler, International Admission Counselor

Alia Schindler

I moved back to Pittsburgh after having lived abroad on and off for several years in Italy, Lebanon, and Malaysia. I was teaching English as a Second Language then and found a great sense of satisfaction and comfort in doing so, as it gave me the chance to work with international students on a daily basis. After having spent a good portion of my 20’s adapting to a culture foreign from my own, I felt a little out of place back in my hometown. While I was overseas, I was viewed as a foreigner, regardless of how acculturated I felt, and back home here in Pittsburgh, I longed for the faraway lands that I had grown accustomed to while overseas. I became internally international, a wanderer of sorts, always feeling a bit out of place. Thus, I feel right at home when working with international students.

It was through my undergraduate experience in Global Studies, my drive toward higher education, and my time abroad that I realized my passion for diversity and culture. I knew I wanted to work in a field that would allow me to assist students in traveling and studying abroad in pursuit of their goals.

One day, while taking a walk through Shadyside, I came upon Chatham University’s stunning campus, and I told myself at that point, “I must find a way to work here.” Fortunately, I was able to network and obtain a position teaching in Chatham’s English Language Program. I taught wonderful students from places such as Columbia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, Turkey, China, and Vietnam. It was a joy teaching them English and about Pittsburgh and American culture in general.

My passion with international education extended outside of the classroom, and I often found myself answering student questions after class relating to both their education and lives. I also found myself consistently seeking to be a part of administrative dialogues and professional groups working toward policy change. I even worked in the International Affairs office outside of my teaching hours.

A point came when I decided that I must take a leap of faith and pursue a position in higher education that would enable me to be a part of helping to enhance the overall process for international students. I branched out first by working in Chatham’s Office of Student Affairs, and it was an excellent chance for me to get to know about, and work with, the many divisions at Chatham that strive to offer the best experience possible for each and every Chatham student.

Finally, I am thrilled to have secured my current position as an International Admission Counselor at Chatham. As an International Admission Counselor, I have the opportunity to mesh my background in teaching with the administrative aspects of higher education to recruit and assist international students through their application process. I am excited to contribute to Chatham’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity. I can be reached at bschindler@chatham.edu or 412-365-2736 or 412-400-7717.