All posts by lphung

2015-2016 Achievements and 2016-2017 Opportunities: A Focus on International Education

Fall2014.jpgThe 2015-2016 academic year saw bustling international activities at Chatham University. In the past year, 200 international students have made Chatham their home. These include undergraduates, graduates, English Language Program (ELP) students, Chatham Semester students, Chatham International Internship students, and Exchange students. In particular, a third of the students attended the English Language Program, which has been the largest program in terms of international student enrollments in the past few years.

International End-of-Term Celebration
International End-of-Term Celebration

Coming from 30 different countries (Angola, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam), international students have brought so much richness and diversity to the University.

Students in their country's traditional clothes
Students in their country’s traditional clothes

Apart from international students, Chatham has welcomed over 60 visitors from overseas universities and organizations, including 14 international educational leaders participating in a leadership training program organized by the U.S. Department of State. Moreover, throughout the year, the award-winning Global Focus program offered numerous stimulating events on the theme of climate change to the Chatham and Pittsburgh communities. One of the highlights of the program was a series of speeches and lectures from Dr. Richard Alley, a co-Nobel prize winner, professor at the Pennsylvania State University, and author of Earth: The Operator’s Manual.

Professor Richard Alley's Lecture at Chatham
Professor Richard Alley’s Lecture at Chatham

Furthermore, in Maymester and summer 2016, about 100 Chatham undergraduate and graduate students participated in various study abroad programs to expand their knowledge and perspectives in their field of study. These programs included Maymester field experiences in Brazil, Greece, Indonesia, Sweden, Taiwan, Peru, and Chile and summer field experiences in Prague and London, Ecuador, and Germany. Summer study abroad students also studied and/or completed internships in Iceland, Cuba, Scotland, Morocco, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Korea.

Kayla Clem summer 2014 Costa Rica study abroad

The 2016-2017 academic year promises to be another exciting year in the international arena at the University. The Chatham community is excited to have Dr. David Finegold as the 19th president of the university, who cares deeply about global education and has a vision to develop Chatham into a world-class and world-known university. Although the number of Saudi students in the English Language Program has greatly declined due to the changes in the Saudi scholarship program, we are delighted to see more diversity among new international students. Albania, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Norway are a few more countries that our new students represent. We also welcomed the first students from new partner universities, including Baika Women’s University, Okayama University, and Hochschule Reutlingen University. Over seventy new international students arrived safe and sound on campus, and participated in an informative and engaging week-long orientation program that ended with the Opening Convocation and Global Focus Picnic on Sunday, August 28. All are excited and ready to start the new academic year.

Opening Convocation Fall 2016
Opening Convocation Fall 2016

Among internationally focused programs at Chatham, we are proud to witness the great success of the first two cohorts of 29 students enrolled in the International Master of Science in Nursing program and excited to welcome the third cohort of 11 students. As a collaboration between Chatham University and Shanghai University of Medical Health Sciences, the program has demonstrated the effectiveness of a well-orchestrated collaboration within the university and across borders to offer the best education and services possible to the students. The success of the first two cohorts has resulted in the establishment of Chatham’s first international alumni chapter in Shanghai.

MSN Students with Some Members of the International Team
MSN 2016 Students with Some Members of the International Team

On the study abroad front, Chatham field experiences to Canada, Ecuador, Japan, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have been developed to engage more students in Maymester 2017 and summer 2017.

The Global Focus Year of Canada will bring programming around 4 themes: The First Nations of our northern neighbor, Multiculturalism, the Northwest Passage, and Canada-United States comparisons. A wonderful collection of short stories by Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese entitled One Native Life is readily available around campus for your reading pleasure.

Finally, the Office of International Affairs, the English Language Program, and the Modern Languages Program hope to bring more people together for intercultural exchange and discussion through the Conversation Partner Program, Conversation Hours, Global Mixer, International Karaoke Night, and International Education Symposium, to name a few programs and activities scheduled for fall 2016. Best wishes to a great year ahead!

A Summer Filled With Adventures for ELP Students

A Summer Filled With Adventures for ELP Students

Mount Washington

By Brigette Bernagozzi, ELP Lecturer

Our ELP students have enjoyed a busy summer filled with many new adventures! Our first summer session included a visit to the Heinz History Center exhibit called “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.” Students learned about dolls, games, and other sources of entertainment for children during the different decades of American history.  We were even encouraged to try our hand at the pinball machines and retro video games, including Ms. PacMan.

In May, we visited Chatham’s Eden Hall campus. Students and teachers spent the morning in the garden, watering crops and constructing planting beds. After our hard work in the sun, we gathered in the beautiful new student center for a warm meal cooked by Eden Hall staff just for us. Soon after, the ELP celebrated the term’s conclusion with a goodbye gathering, where students made their farewell presentations and received certificates of completion for their courses.

In June and July, writing teachers Sylvia and Brigette led a group of students on several off-campus forays into American culture. Weekly Friday field trips included jaunts to Squirrel Hill Library, the Warhol Museum, and Pittsburgh’s steep incline, which leads up to Mount Washington. After shooting impressive photographs of Pittsburgh’s stunning skyline, everyone celebrated with soft-serve ice cream before descending into Station Square for shopping and a hearty lunch at Houlihan’s.

Our next adventure led us into the heart of the Strip District, famous for its fresh fruits, mouth-watering meats, international chocolates, and gourmet cheeses. After stopping at an authentic Italian coffee bar, students embarked on a rainy scavenger hunt, winding their way through spice shops and fish markets. At first, the sudden thunderstorm soaked our clothing through and through, but then Sylvia pulled brightly colored ponchos out of her backpack for everyone to help ward off the rain. Then it was off to try new delicacies at Smallman Galley, a restaurant featuring several different styles of cooking, including barbecue chicken with baked beans, gourmet avocado toast, and a burger drenched in a top-notch umami aioli with smoked mushrooms. Decadent ice cream sundaes at Klavon’s 1920’s-style ice cream parlor topped off the afternoon.

How could our students not enjoy such a fantastic summer here at the ELP? We’ll miss those who are leaving us for new adventures, but our ELP staff will look back fondly on our shared journeys through the many museums, rainy cityscapes, and—of course—ice cream shops of Pittsburgh.

The Joy and Challenges of Learning English

By Mohammed Almalky, former ELP student, MS Biology graduate

IMG_0966
Mohammed at the International Education Symposium in 2014

My name is Mohammed Almalky. I came to the U.S in 2012 to learn English. I used to learn English in Saudi Arabia, but I was not effective because I did not use English often. I faced many challenges in learning English, yet I have found different ways to overcome these challenges. When I first came to the U.S.A, I would talk for an hour with a native speaker, and at the end of the conversation they would ask me, “What you are talking about?” As you can imagine, it was difficult to find a native speaker who was willing to spend time and talk with me. Of course, they would be more interested in talking with someone who they could have a smooth conversation with. Thus, to attract them to have a conversation with me, I invited them to parties and restaurants so they would come and enjoy the parties and meals and I would enjoy speaking with them.

The second challenge I faced was learning the meaning and the use of words. When I learned new vocabularies by translating them from English to Arabic and vice versa, I thought I got the meaning, but in fact the use of the words was different. For example, in Arabic the word “calendar” has two different meanings: dates and dental braces. So when I went to the dentist in the U.S., instead of asking for braces, I asked him for a calendar and he gave me a folder. I realized that he misunderstood me because of my English.

The third challenge and biggest challenge is learning English pronunciation. For instance, in English they have the two different sounds p and b while in Arabic we only have the sound b. One time I had an appointment with a native speaker and he called me and asked “Where are you?” I said, “I am outside.” When I arrived he asked me again, “Where have you been?” I said, “I was barking on Fifth Ave.” He said, “Why didn’t you come and bark here!” I did not understand what he meant. After three months he said, “Your English is getting better. Do you still bark?” I could then answer, “No, now I am parking”. After several semesters of studying English, my English greatly improved. I got admitted to study a Master degree in Biology. As a biology student, I now know words that many native speakers do not know, such as anastomose, decussate, osteoclasts, and lipolysis. After looking back at my experience, I can confidently conclude that you never fail until you stop trying.

Mount Washington and Station Square

By Sylvia Shipp, ELP Lecturer and Student Advisor

As we crossed over the Monongahela River on the Smithfield Street Bridge, I informed the students.

“This is no ordinary bridge.”

The students looked up from their conversations to gaze at the yellow steel architecture.

“Not only is it over 130 years old and a National Historical Landmark,” I continued, “but it’s also the setting for the movies Flashdance and Striking Distance, and the rap video Black and Yellow.”

Bridge

Minutes later, we parked near Station Square and quickly toured the Grand Concourse. Once a train station built in 1901 to meet passengers arriving on the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, today people dine in this historical spot steeped in a dazzling ambience.

Grand Concourse

We cut through Station Square to get to the Monongahela Incline, which would take us to the top of Mount Washington. Our Chatham ID cards got us on for free. The incline car was hot and stuffy inside as it slowly carried us up to the top.

Grand view

Photo credit: Moe Kuromatsu

Mount Washington is the perfect place to get an idea of just how beautiful Pittsburgh is.

Group pic

Photo credit: Kanako Uchihata

And just how happy our students were to experience the breathtaking views.

Just off of Grandview Avenue, we discovered DeFiore’s Ice Cream Shop, which opened early just for us (is 10 a.m. too early for something so yummy?).

Student pic

Afterward, we walked down Shiloh Street to investigate the neighborhood. It was quaint, and came complete with cafés, taverns, an Uzbek restaurant, a floral shop, and a bakery. We were amused by so many acute angles that were used in making the brick buildings.

Soon it was time to leave Mount Washington. After joking with the jovial incline operator, we took the incline down and spent time checking out Station Square. There is no shortage of unique shops and novelty items such as hurricane booths and Segway Tour training.

After our long exploration of this part of town, lunchtime was calling us. We decided on the restaurant Houlihan’s to fill our bellies with mouthwatering grilled chicken salads, Korean chicken, and petit filet mignon.

Food

Photo credit: Moe Kuromatsu

Satisfied with the day’s explorations and events, we climbed back into our Chatham van and returned home, singing along with the radio, and talking about our next excursion.

Until our next field trip!

Think and Think Again Before You Make a Judgement

By Saud Abdulsamad and Mohammed Lashram, ELP students

*Inspired by the “I have a dream” speech, Saud and Mohammed wrote a speech to those who are too quick to make judgements about Muslims.

Dear those who think Muslims are terrorists. Have you asked yourself what Islam means? Or why you are still alive so far even though there are more than one and a half billion Muslims (terrorists) around you? Think carefully; if all those Muslims were terrorists, they could finish up the world by throwing some stones on people.

Now, let me help you and define what the word Islam means. Islam means peace or peace in everything. Some of those people who consider Muslims to be terrorists do not know some basic information about Islam. For example, a famous politician claims that Islam was born in Saudi Arabia. Whoever said that does not have basic information, not only about Islam, but also about history. Islam started in 610 A.D. However, Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 A.D. Therefore, there is a 1322-year-gap, so this guy needs to learn some math. By the way, talking about math, a man named Al-Khwarizmi, who was one of the most famous scholars in the Islamic golden era, invented not only algebra, but also algorithm. Without algorithm, today, we would not able to have computers and anything related to computers.

People, I am not here today to illustrate to you what Muslim scholars did, but to show you something out of the box, the box that the propaganda creates. Since I came to the USA, many friendly Americans that I met have asked me one question: “Why, why does your religion treat women badly?” And they give me an example to try to convince me about their claim. The example is that women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, and they conclude that our religion treats women badly. Now if you want to criticize the Islam religion, you have to bring an example that belongs to the religion, but this example is associated with our culture, way of life, and traditions, NOT religion.

I gave you this example to show you that before you judge Islam and Muslims, you have to read and know true information about them. We know about the Spanish Inquisition and Holocaust, but we do not consider Christianity a religion of violence because of some crazy groups of radical Christians. All in all, what I would like to say here think and think and think before you make a judgment.

What makes an effective teacher?

What makes an effective teacher?

By Linh Phung

English Language Program DirectorEnd-of-term June 2016

ELP teachers and students celebrating the success of summer 1

At the end of the first summer session, teachers in the English Language Program gathered to share their thoughts on English language teaching. One research-based finding from Alina’s presentation is that the “variable” that impacts students’ learning the most is the teacher in the classroom. Then what characteristics make an effective teacher? Does the teacher need to be a native speaker of the language that they are teaching? Marina’s presentation convincingly argues that the answer to this question is “no.” What makes teachers effective is not their nativeness. What is more important is their language expertise, professional training, and how they can create learning opportunities for students.  Rachel describes a lesson where she was in a “teaching grove.” In that lesson, her passion and energy merged with the students’ and brought them all to a state of “flow.” This is a psychological state when everyone is totally absorbed in what they are doing and greatly enjoy themselves. Brigette brings up the idea that extensive reading for pleasure may be a good way to engage students and even help them to experience “flow.” In addition, when students enjoy reading, they may seek more opportunities to do so on their own. What can be a better outcome than that? Clearly, there are certain characteristics that good teachers and good teaching should exhibit, but teaching cannot be done to a formula. Teachers need to continuously reflect on and examine their practices to understand how they affect students’ engagement and learning.