All posts by internationalaffairs

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 sprit 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. At 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. 

International Education Week 2022 Reflection

International Symposium

Students and community members came together for the International Symposium to explore the theme “Building Mutual Understanding for a Peaceful World”.

Presenters included keynote speaker RaMa, a Sudanese activist and author. RaMa has published two novels and a short story collection to great international critical acclaim. She is currently a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Students presented speeches and posters on a variety of topics, including religion, marriage, cultural differences, study abroad, and kindness across cultures!

Globally Green: Vira I. Heinz Scholar Presentation

Participants learned about sustainability in Italy and Jordan from  Vira I Heinz Scholarship program scholars Mikaela and Isabel.  Dr. Lehrer discussed sustainable farming and agriculture in Costa Rica, and Dr. Julier provided an overview of the projects and initiatives of CRAFT at Eden Hall campus. CRAFT, or the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation, works to transform the future of food and agriculture in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. Speakers provided information on opportunities to volunteer and impact the sustainability of the local area. Everyone was invited to sample some foods from Italy and Jordan.

International Snacks with ISA/TEAN

Sara Kochuba from Worldstrides shared information on ISA [studiesabroad.com] and TEAN [teanabroad.org] study and intern abroad opportunities during summer and semester long programs. Students sampled tasty snacks from abroad.

International Karaoke

Students of modern languages gathered in the Carriage House for International Karaoke! Students sang to practice their language skills in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish!

International Tea

This relaxing event fostered engagement and conversation among Chatham students and community members. Participants joined in for conversation, snacks, games, and tea!

Meet The Study Abroad Ambassadors 2022-23: Mikaela

Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2022-2023. These  Students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Mikaela Lane

Program: Florence, summer 2022

“Studying abroad in Florence opened my eyes up to a fraction of what awaits around the world just waiting to be learned about, scootered through, and climbed up.”

Students can reach out to Mikaela via email at:

mikaela.lane@chatham.edu.

Meet the Study Abroad Ambassadors 2022-2023: Isabel

Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2022-2023. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Isabel Smith

Program: Jordan, summer 2022

“These images are of my favorite place in Jordan, Wadi Rum. It is a desert and mountainous area, described as being the most similar location to Mars on Earth. Wadi means valley in Arabic and there are many Wadis throughout the area. Many notable films were shot here including Star Wars, The Martian, Dune, and the live action Aladdin. It was my favorite place because of the stunning views and peaceful wind. We watched the sun rise and set during our time there and it was a moving experience to watch in silence and see it so clearly because there was nothing to block the view.”

Students can reach out to Isabel via email at: isabel.smith@chatham.edu

Meet the Study Abroad Ambassadors 2022-2023: Vickey

Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2022-2023. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Vickey Kim

Program: Taiwan, summer 2022

   

“Going abroad to Taiwan for the summer was amazing, easily one of the most unforgettable experiences I have had in a long time. Due to Covid-19, the process of getting the Visa and having to quarantine once arrived in Taiwan required a lot of patience from the students, but mostly for the people who had organized the program. Despite the constant challenges, our program coordinator- Robin provided great support that made the whole process easy and bearable. Although we had to quarantine for two weeks, my experience of quarantining wasn’t actually excruciating as I expected because the Fulbright program had orientations throughout the week with mentors who taught us the culture, history and the norm of Taiwan. We learned how to play Mahjong during our quarantine and we were all able to connect with our cultural buddies the program had paired us with.

Next, I will discuss my school experience I had in Taiwan. I think being in a school setting was one of the times where I experienced the most cultural difference between the West and the East. As an Asian, when I arrived in the United States, I had to learn to speak up for myself and speak up when I had thought to share. Of course living in the United States for almost eight years, I adapted to the new culture, but when I arrived in Taiwan and attended the school, I realized I had to take myself back to eight years ago-to when I didn’t really share my thoughts unless my name was called or else I was seen as the American that just talked and talked in class. I quickly readjusted to the new cultural norm in Taiwan class because I was familiar with the setting, but if you are someone who has never lived or has no experience in Asian countries, I recommend keeping this in mind. Also keep in mind that just because someone doesn’t freely speak up like in America, doesn’t mean they are dumb and have nothing to say. So, don’t look down on their intelligence or sum up their personality.

Lastly, I’ve attached a few of the images from the trip in Taiwan and three of the pictures are from the optional excursion I participated in after the summer program had ended. If you are someone who is planning to go to Taiwan for the summer, I strongly recommend participating in the five day excursion because you get to go around and see so much more things than the weekend excursion during the program. Not only that, you get to bond deeper with people that you’ve already met and get to experience the authentic Taiwan. As you can see in the first image, it is a Starbucks, but Starbucks inside a container and that container has traveled through London, South Korea and many more countries and I thought it was super cool that the store was built Inside the CONTAINER! In the second image, it’s a beach, but it was really awesome because we had to climb up the rocky hill, but as it dropped, you got to experience this beach that was breathtaking and the fresh air in hot, humid Taiwan. The third image is at one of the oldest temples in Taiwan and this was during a weekend excursion. One of the most fun experiences I had during the five day excursion was on a Go-cart! It was so fun because we went early in the morning and nobody was around except us in the program. Got some fresh air and a few things probably went inside my eyes, but it was an unforgettable experience!

If you are afraid to go abroad because of financial reasons, there are plenty of options that provide financial aid for you. Don’t limit yourself because of money. It might take you more leg work compared to people who come from money, but please don’t let that stop you from having amazing experiences abroad!

Go Abroad and Live Your Life! Enjoy New Things and Go Out of Your Comfort Zone!!!”

Students can reach out to Vickey via email at: vickey.kim@chatham.edu

Meet the Study Abroad Ambassadors 2022-2023: Noelle

Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2022-2023. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Noelle Dagdagan

Program: Japan, summer 2022

“In the first photo, I am wearing a yukata (浴衣), which is a type of traditional Japanese clothing worn in the summer. Due to the intense summer heat of Japan, the yukata is more common to wear than kimono because it does not have as many layers. I really enjoyed the public transportation system in Japan because it was so easy to get around the city of Kyoto and to other prefectures. Many times, after class, I was able to go sight-seeing around Kyoto and experience the culture.

My most memorable post-class adventure was traveling to Lake Biwa (琵琶湖). It is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and is located in Shiga prefecture. A swim in the lake was just what we needed when it was over 100°F! The second picture was taken on our walk back to the train station after enjoying an afternoon in the water.”

Students can reach out to Noelle via email at: noelle.dagdagan@chatham.edu