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Congratulations

The Office of International Affairs would like to congratulate many international students on completing their degree and their study abroad experience at Chatham this April. We also congratulate students on their international awards and accomplishments.

Congratulate English Language Program graduates, Zainab Bin Abbas and Kubra Bahcivanci, for moving on to their MA studies in Physical Therapy and MBA, respectively. Congratulate Maha Aloufi, Maha Alhumaidi, and Hasnah Alghamdi on graduating from the English Language Program after a few semesters of study. Dr. Maha Alhumaidi and Dr. Hasnah Alghamdi are History professors from Saudi Abrabia, whose hard work in the program had such positive influence on other students.

Talking about her experience with the English Language Program, Zainab Bin Abbas wrote:

“It is my last day in Chatham University English Language Program. It is hard to say good bye, but everything has to come to an end. I am really thankful for my teachers. In only one semester, I learned a lot about American history and culture. I love the fact that classes in the program were not about grammar, reading, speaking and writing, but instead they focused on helping us to use what we have already learned by reading real books and discussing academic content. Also, we watched a lot of classic movies and learned about different movie genres. For me, the English Language Program at Chatham University is a strong course of study that greatly boosted by English knowledge and skills. Chatham University is a small university, so not many international students and English language learners know about it, but the program is just as strong as any program offers by bigger universities.”

We’d also like to congratulate Dylan Jacquard on completing the Chatham International Program after a successful internship at Cemoi/Chris’ Candies.

Dylan’s presentation on his internship experience

Also, big congrats to the following students on their international awards:

Vira I Heinz Program in Global Leadership for Women: Skylar Houck (Nepal), Sierra McCullough (Spain) and Terra Teets (Germany)

Glenda Rich DeBroff ’60 Memorial Scholarship:  Hunter Yedlowski (Ireland)

Theo Colburn-Rachel Carson Scholarship Award and Lorin Maazel-Rachel Carson Award for Environmental Studies: Elena Woodworth (Panama)

Sally Mercke Heym ’63 Memorial Award for Cross Cultural Studies: Kaitlyn Salmon (Rwanda) and Katarina Trask (Spain)

International Advocate Award: Melanie Landsittel. Melanie has been an excellent student worker at the OIA for a few years. After her graduation this year, she will begin teaching English in Prague! Big congrats and thanks to Melanie!

When Languages and Cultures Come Together and Alive

Linh Phung, Director of English Language and Pathways Programs

Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages Program

One core mission of Chatham University is to promote global thinking among its students. Fulfilling the mission requires the work of all departments, offices, and stakeholders from the University. Over the years, the Office of International Affairs, the English Language Program, and the Modern Languages Program have forged close partnerships, resulting in multiple programs and events for linguistic and cultural exchanges as well as the celebration of languages. Viewing multilingualism and multiculturalism as an asset, we have been capitalizing on diverse languages cultures of our international and domestic students in such initiatives as the Conversation Partner Program, International Karaoke Nights, and International Dessert Nights. As a result, many language learning opportunities have been created, friendships formed, compelling stories told, and insights gained.

Conversation Partner Program

Chika and her conversation partner

The Conversation Partner Program pairs or groups students of different linguistic backgrounds. After the grouping, students set up their own conversations and outings throughout the semester. Over the years, the program has grouped 26-79 students from up to 10 countries together. Students have opportunities to use English, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, and so on in these conversations. While the demand for Spanish, French, and German often exceeds the presence of native speakers of those languages, success has been specially noted in interactions among students from Japan and students of Japanese thanks in part to the presence of about 20 students from Japan at Chatham every year.

Despite some challenges of running the program, the rewards to students make it all worth it. In survey responses (usually 30% of the applicants) after each semester, students have described their partnerships as “a lot of fun,” “awesome,” and “fantastic.” One said, “it’s a great way to interact with international students and to create a stronger sense of community on campus.” Students reported doing things together, including going to restaurants, inviting their partners to spend time with their family over holidays, and exploring Pittsburgh together. Many have formed close friendships that outlast the study period of international students at Chatham. From a language learning perspective, students have more opportunities to use English and their target language, which undoubtedly contribute to their language development.

International Karaoke Night

International Karaoke Night

This fun event is held once per semester in the evening, usually in the Carriage House. All the students from the language classes (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish) participate. International students also join in. International Karaoke Night is a venue for showcasing languages through music and performance. Students appreciate the opportunity to sing in their target language and have an audience to cheer them on. Not only does this make an entertaining and community-building night, but importantly, by making direct comparisons, students gain insights into other cultures and languages. As one student put it: “taking a universal concept such as Karaoke, but hearing it in a multiplicity of languages allowed me the opportunity to glimpse into other cultures in an enjoyable manner.”

International Dessert Night / Holidays Around the World Dinner

International Dessert Night

At the end of each semester, Modern Languages Program (MLP), together with the Office of International Affairs and the English Language Program (ELP), hosts the “Holidays-Around-the-World Dinner” (December) and the “International Dessert Night” (April). The gathering is held on campus in a comfortable living-room setting. Instructors prepare a dish that represents their target culture, supplemented by food that is catered. The evening starts out with games to connect students with each other and engage them in an interactive challenge to find out about various holiday traditions. Winners are awarded small prizes. Again, the goal is to get students to use their target language with each other and to apply it in a new context. Students love tasting new dishes and compare different traditions associated with the foods. Having the international students there gives a very authentic dimension to the evening and enhances the experience for our MLP students

Successful Interdepartmental Partnership

The collaboration has been a happy and successful one, and factors that contribute to this successful partnership include the overlapping goals among the ELP, MLP, and OIA. In addition, the leaders of these departments/ programs take ownership of and responsibility for different initiatives and events. The responsible person is proactive in distributing information about their program in different formats: emails, flyers, social media, and face-to-face communication with their faculty and students. Incorporating certain events into a class (such as the Lab course attached to each three-credit language course from MLP) and making announcements in the classroom is one of the most effective ways to increase student participation. Apart from emails, the organizers occasionally stop by one another’s office for conversations and discussions. This helps to not only effectively plan for the programs, but also strengthen the commitment to working together. The reward is seeing various languages and cultures come together and become alive through authentic conversations, exchanges, and celebrations.

The Cross-Cultural Workshop Series: Helping International Students to Get the Best of Chatham

By Victor …, Office of International Affairs

OIA is always there when it comes to help our international and exchange students, and this is another way we try to do so. The first months in a new country is hard, and it is good to have someone who can offer some guidance. This was the idea behind our Cross-Cultural Workshop Series. Throughout the semester, we met the students and had an informal discussion unlike a normal classroom. We shared our stories, strategies, and ideas about what to do in the face of this new and thrilling chapter of our lives: studying abroad.

With this workshop series, our approach intended to make learning collaborative and co-constructed by the participants rather than developed by the workshop leader. Our students came with great ideas, we tried to build upon the ideas and offer some help.

Global discussion

We discussed topics like getting to know Chatham, its community and the larger Pittsburgh community. “Surviving your first month” was a way to check how people were doing and also share some common advice. Of course, helping with school-related topics was one of our goals, and we spent some time talking about the US classroom culture, preparing for midterms, and strategies to study. But not everything is about school, and the OIA is aware that taking care of ourselves is a top priority for every student. In this spirit, we talked about home sickness, culture shock, and self-care. Dr. Elsa Arce from Chatham Counseling Center talked with us about signs of homesickness and gave us resources within our campus and in the Greater Pittsburgh area. We also learned about a few mindfulness techniques and how to improve our experience through relaxation and productive breaks.

At the OIA we are always trying to enhance the experience for all our students, and this series was a small effort with a big payback.

A Worthy Experience with Chatham University

By Mai Nguyen, MBA Student, Graduate Assistant for the Office of International Affairs

It has been three months since I first took my first step in the States. I fell in love with the people and culture here right away! One of my friends who lived in Pittsburgh welcomed me with a very tight embrace which dispersed my exhaustion from such a long flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong to the U.S. Professor James Pierson, Director of Chatham MBA Program, was very helpful in giving me information about the program and my career prospects after graduation. Dr. Linh Phung, Mr. Chris Musick, Ms. Kate Emory and other graduate assistants at Office of International Affairs were my lovely supportive colleagues.

Working as a graduate assistant at Chatham is such a very interesting experience in my life. I was first assigned to conduct research about promising markets for studying abroad. I took Vietnam as my first challenge to overcome. The work is independent by reading annual reports and making contacts with agents. Furthermore, I can use my knowledge from my current MBA degree to facilitate my actual job. Especially, I have a chance to work directly with people in various positions at the university, which may not be common in other organizations.

A trip to Schenley Park Skating Rink

If I have to point out a tiny disappointment, I have to confess that I wish Chatham would be a little bigger school with greater diversity of races and nationalities. However, the advantage of attending a not-so-big university is that I am highly engaged with the local communities and American culture. I feel that independence, discipline, teamwork, and punctuality are the core values in the work culture at Chatham that I fit well in.

While working part-time at Office of International Affairs, I am also a full-time MBA student. I really enjoy being occupied because to me when you work for your dreams, it is not a work anymore. I also admire another of American value: efficiency. I like the way my classmates routinely schedule every little group meeting or even a visit. They do not want to miss deadline. Also, I have found my professors to be very instructive and dedicated since they push us to go beyond our limitations and get out of our comfort zone to reach another accomplishment in our career path. I did not really have that experience anywhere else.

My daily road to Chatham University in the winter

Work and study cannot take you away from indulgence where I can find peace by walking home in the snowy nostalgic street along ancient buildings and majestic churches that never appear in a tropical land where I come from. I know there are a lot of wonderful things ahead of me to discover here in Pittsburgh and the States.

Language Minors at Chatham University

By Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages Program Program

International dinner

The Modern Languages Program at Chatham attracts an increasing number of students each year. This current academic year, 218 students (an average of about 109 per semester) are enrolled in one of the six foreign languages taught at Chatham: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. All of these languages are taught at the introductory and intermediate levels. Each course focuses on basic language acquisition in the first year and on deepening linguistic and cultural knowledge in the second year. While some students study a language just to satisfy a personal interest, many others make their language study count toward general education requirements or one of the International Certificates requirements. They often use the language knowledge gained to enhance the experience of studying abroad and being able to immerse in the local culture.

International Karaoke

Now, students can take their language study even further.  Just this term, Chatham has introduced a language minor in French, German, and Spanish, allowing students to reach proficiency in another language and culture at a level beyond the purview of the Certificates. Twenty (20) credits are needed to fulfill the minor requirements. This includes eight (8) credits at the intermediate level I and II at Chatham. Twelve (12) credits (4 courses) will be completed through coursework taken during a Study Abroad or at one of our PCHE partner institutions and consist of advanced language courses and courses on culture and/or literature.

International Dessert Night

Without a doubt, the Language Minors along with the International Certificates are a great way to boost the internationalization of students and develop the skills needed to successfully live and work in an increasingly interdependent global environment.

If you want to learn more about language study at Chatham, the International Certificates or the Language Minors, please contact Dr. Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages at: mwells@chatham.edu.

Goodbye Summer 18 and Welcome Fall 18

Orientation for New International Students. Welcome to Chatham!

While summer may be a slower time for many, the Office of International Affairs was in full motion with 14 intensive courses from the English Language Program, a four-week program for 10 students from Wenzhou Medical University, immigration recertification, and international visits for partnership development, to name a few activities.

New International Students

Fall 2018 brings fewer new international students than last fall, but plans have been made for a productive semester with a host of activities for the Global Focus Year of Ireland; exciting opportunities to study abroad, including scholarship opportunities; and a robust cultural program to celebrate languages, cultures, and international education. Read through our eNewsletter for information on these programs.

Here are a few highlights of the summer.

ELP End-of-Term Celebration

With thirty-three students, 70 hours of weekly instruction, three full-tuition scholarships offered to local students, the ELP celebrated the success of the semester with a guest speech from Natalia Castillejo, Product Manager at Duolingo; student speeches by Fadia Azzani and Gabriela Gomez; and music performances from Ayaka Fushino, Ai Fudano, Hong Zhao, and Hong’s husband. It was a wonderful celebration of language and culture!

ELP at the Frick Park and Museums

Opportunities for students for social interactions and cultural discovery include a Conversation Partner Program, Waterfront Battle of Homestead Tour, Mexico War Street Tour, trips to outstanding museums Pittsburgh has to offer, a potluck with education students, BBQ parties at Dr. Phung’s and Mr. Musick’s houses, among others. Students also traveled to so many cities and attractions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Cuba. What an adventurous bunch!

Students from Wenzhou Medical University at the Fallingwater

Ten students majoring in psychiatry at Wenzhou Medical University participated in a four-week program organized and led by AVP Chris Musick. The students participated in workshops taught by faculty from the Psychology Department, cultural explorations led by AVP Musick, and selected lessons in some ELP’s courses. Many of the workshops had experiential components taking the students to museums, the zoo, and the Allegany Cemetery. The students learned many new concepts which they had not encountered before in their studies in China.

After over 18 months, the Pittsburgh Pathways was finally approved by SEVP. The approval was needed in order for Chatham to issue immigration documents for students to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. and attend the program. Following the approval was intensive work to apply for a SEVP recertification to allow Chatham to continue to enroll international students and host international scholars in its programs.

Janelle Moore in Costa Rica

On the study abroad side, Chatham undergraduate students participated in summer study and internship opportunities in Costa Rica, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. Graduate students studying Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy participated in a summer field experience in Ecuador.

AVP Musick visited China with Dean Downey in May to build institutional partnerships. There is now interest from Wenzhou’s College of Nursing, College of Psychology, School of Foreign Languages in building sustainable student and faculty exchanges.

Dr. Linh Phung with Students from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts

In addition, the staff in the Office of International Affairs attended the NAFSA conference in Philadelphia with about 9,500 other attendees all over the world. We caught up with existing partners and connected with potential new ones. In July, Dr. Linh Phung visited long-lasting university partners in Japan, which together have sent over 100 students to Chatham since 2011. Partnership work is intense and intensive, but also rewarding.

With the summer semester behind, we are looking forward to an exciting academic year ahead!

Highlights of the 2018-2019 Global Focus: Year of Ireland

 

Professor Jim Pierson, Global Focus Coordinator this year, and his wife, Kathleen Pierson, standing on property that has been owned by her mother’s maiden family (the Smyth’s) since circa 1830, in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Global Focus Year of Ireland highlights the Opening Picnic with a great Irish menu on August 28; discounted tickets and free transportation to Pittsburgh Irish Music Festival; a screening of the Emmy-award winning documentary “Ireland’s Great Hunger & The Irish Diaspora;” a music recital by John O’Conor, an internationally acclaimed Irish pianist; and “A Reflection on Women’s Reproductive Rights, Considering Faith-Based Perspectives and Recent Ireland Historic Changes.” Plan to attend!

We are excited about our campus activities celebrating the Global Focus Year of Ireland, as well as our study-abroad trip planned for May 2019.  Opening convocation and picnic on August 26th kicks off with a “Six-Piece Flock of Riveting Celtic Music” from the popular local Irish group, the Wild Geese Band.

To align our taste buds to the Emerald Island, a great Irish menu will be served at the opening picnic, to include baked salmon, corned beef and cabbage, traditional Irish coddle, and vegan Guinness stew, along with traditional Irish sides and desserts.  All good!

Chatham students will be able to receive discounted tickets and free bus transportation to the famous Pittsburgh Irish Music Festival at a nearby venue.  This event attracts over 20,000 visitors over a three-day weekend and celebrates Irish music, culture, language, and other neat things, such as an Irish dog show.  Plan to attend!

To highlight just a few of the events planned during the fall for the Year of Ireland, on October 25th, we will present a documentary of “Ireland’s Great Hunger & The Irish Diaspora,” an Emmy award-winning documentary (48 minutes) and discussion by documentary Chief Historian, Dr. Christine Kinealy, Professor of History and Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University.

We will also have John O’Conor, an internationally acclaimed Irish pianist and former director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, present a recital on campus, at 11:30 am, Tuesday, November 6th.

One other key event will be “A Reflection on Women’s Reproductive Rights, Considering Faith-Based Perspectives and Recent Ireland Historic Changes.”  This will be an important co-sponsored event by Global Focus, the Interfaith Council, and Chatham’s Women’s Institute.  In 1983, The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, which strictly limited abortion, was adopted by a referendum vote of Irish citizens by a 2 to 1 majority. Fast forward to 2018, where the repeal of the 8th Amendment was adopted by a referendum vote of a 2 to 1 majority of Irish citizens.

However, in the United States, efforts to further limit women’s reproductive rights are in full display in 2018 as seen in political campaigns, legislative and judicial activity, and as an issue in the supreme court nomination process.  Thus, the issues of women’s reproductive rights are ripe for reflection, in context of faith-based perspectives, and in comparing and contrasting global perspectives between Ireland and the United States.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on Global Focus activities during the Year of Ireland!

Three Accomplished Women on Scholarship at Chatham English Language Program

The English Language Program at Chatham University awarded three full-tuition scholarships to three local students in the summer 2018 semester. The students shared their stories and comments about the English Language Program in an interview with Shawn Kent, ELP Tutor, below.

Farazdaq Alhammood

Goal: Ph.D. in biotechnology and chemical engineering

When Farazdaq Alhammood started the ELP program at Chatham she had already lived in Pittsburgh for many years. Her goal is to pass her TOEFL exam, a requirement before getting her Ph.D. in biotechnology and genetic engineering. She has an MA in biotechnology from her home country of Iraq.

Farazdaq said that what she likes most about her English studies at English Language Program at Chatham University this summer is learning grammar, improving her vocabulary, and understanding tenses in speaking and writing. She feels she has made a lot of progress in the program. The teachers are good, and everyone is friendly and helpful. In fact, when asked about what suggestions she might have to improve the program she said, “Everything is perfect!”

The hardest thing is time. The summer program is short and intensive, and that creates some pressure. It goes fast. Still, her English—particularly her understanding of grammar, she says—has improved.

The first year in Pittsburgh was difficult. She had to find a job, study, and take care of her three kids. Two of them were born here. Her extended family was not around. In her own country she depended on her family. Now, she is stronger and feels more responsible for herself.

American culture was not hard to adjust to. She talks to her American neighbors. And she likes the holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween. She likes free summer movies in the park. “I’m so happy here,” she said.

Her favorite place is Point Park at sunset. She spends time with her family at the park. They enjoy the big fountain and being near the river.  When she is not with her family, she spends her time studying at Chatham.

The scholarship has been such a good opportunity for her to make progress in her goals. She hopes to finish her studies and become a doctor. “I like Chatham,” Farazdaq says. “They take care of us.”

Hong Zhao

Goal: Master’s Degree in Psychology and Counseling

 

“I know Chatham. It’s near our house. I love this place,” Hong said, when asked what she thought of Chatham.  The only thing she would change is to have more students from other countries and to mix them all up in class, rather than let students from a particular country stick together.

Hong was living in Pittsburgh and taking classes at Literacy Pittsburgh, where they told her about the scholarship program to study English for the summer at Chatham. She applied and was accepted.

The hardest thing about living in the U.S. for her was not knowing English. In her country, Hong could do a lot of things. Here, nothing. She felt stupid not knowing the language. But now she is better!  Her husband is American, so she learns a lot from him, though he also speaks Chinese. He studied Chinese philosophy and has visited China several times.

Hong said. “Freedom of expression is important here. But sometimes I build myself a cage. Sometimes, if a bird is in a cage too long it gets out and doesn’t know what to do. I should find a way to release myself, my mind.”

Hong studied to be a counselor in China. She wants to get a Master’s degree in psychology and counseling in the U.S. But first, she has to pass the TOEFL exam. That is her goal now.  She would like to keep studying at Chatham, but is not sure if she can afford it. The scholarship has been a wonderful opportunity for her to pursue her dream.

Ainagul Borambayeva

Goal: MBA at Chatham University

Hong Zhao told Ainagul about the scholarship at Chatham and it was Hong who encouraged her to apply. Ainagul is a caregiver for Hong’s family.

About Chatham, Ainagul says she has had a “very good experience here. A little hard. Don’t have time. One month is not enough.”

However, she says she will continue studying at home, now that she understands grammar.  Before, she only knew about the present and simple past. “Now I know 12 tenses! I like grammar—when the teacher explains everything!”

She speaks Russian at home with her husband, so she needs more time practicing English with other people. Her husband doesn’t speak English. He works at a pizza parlor where his co-workers also speak Russian. Luckily, Ainagul likes pizza. Her husband brings a pie home with him every night.

She also likes American culture. Nothing was hard to adjust to. She likes American people. “American people are very polite. In my country, if I don’t know people I don’t say hello. At first when people here said ‘Hello, how are you?’ I was confused. But it’s just like saying ‘hi.’ They smile. Now, my child, 4-years-old, when we take a walk he says ‘hello, how are you?’”

When asked what Chatham could improve, Ainagul answered, “More scholarships! More people from other countries, mix them all together to study.” But, she adds, “The program is very strong.”

One of Ainagul’s favorite places is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, where she often takes her children. The family also likes going to the library where the kids can play and read.

What has changed for her is that her grammar has improved. “When I go to the bank, talk with the neighbor, I just ask, speak, talk! I feel more confident. I understand people!”

Next year she wants to pass the TOEFL and get an MBA at Chatham. She already has a degree in economics from Kazakhstan.  One day, Ainagul would like to work at BNY Mellon Bank and, in the future, be a manager.

The importance of maintaining immigration status

The importance of maintaining immigration status

While studying in the United States, it is important to follow the rules and regulations for your visa category.

Your student status aligns with your primary purpose in the United States: to study. If you do not follow the regulations for your student status, you risk losing your student status in the United States (termination).

Actions that may lead to termination include, but are not limited to,

  • working without authorization;
  • taking less than full-time course load without authorization;
  • failing to make academic progress;
  • and failure to report a change of address;

Failure to maintain status can lead to serious consequences, such as accruing “unlawful presence.” The accrual of unlawful presence may lead to deportation, and a 3-10-year or lifetime ban on entering the United States.

On August 9, 2018, USCIS updated their policy regarding when “unlawful presence” begins to be counted. If you fail to maintain your student or exchange visitor status, you will begin to accrue unlawful presence immediately.

If you are an F-1 student, you have 60 days after the program end date on your Form I-20,  to leave the United States. Failure to depart within this grace period could adversely impact your ability to re-enter the United States.

Always remember to talk with your designated school official (DSO) if you have any questions about maintaining status while studying in the United States. The Office of International Affairs sends monthly reminders on maintaining status.

For more information, visit the Maintaining Status page on Study in the States website (https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/) for information and tips to help you maintain your status.

Additional information:

If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Emory at the Office of International Affairs:

k.Emory@chatham.edu  |  412-365-1388