Category Archives: Student Essays

Reflection: Chatham Field Experience – Berlin, Germany

By Melanie Landsittel, OIA Student worker

During the first two weeks of May, 2018, I was able to attend Chatham’s short term field experience program in Berlin and Brussels and in the following post I will describe my experience in Berlin.

To me, Berlin is an extremely livable city. Its wide open spaces, rivers, and abundance of public green space are unlike any other place. Getting around is easy with the subway and tram system as well. Another great thing about it is the food—there is a huge variety of what you can eat in Berlin, and most of it is great, like New-York level food.

The above picture is me, being touristy and taking a picture by the Brandenburg gate. The area we stayed in, in general, was a bit touristy, but it really wasn’t too crowded which I was impressed by.

Here you can see what I mean by open spaces. This picture also shows how clean of a city Berlin is, it’s extremely impressive. For those of you who haven’t visited Europe, you may be surprised to know that most public bathrooms here, and in other cities around the continent, charge 50 cents to 1 euro on average to use the public restroom.  This may seem a little bizarre, but… honestly it’s kind of worth it because they are so clean!

On this field experience, we had several opportunities to visit sites related to German history. One of these is pictured above—The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It was really a sobering experience, the tour guide described the structure to us as a “geometry of terror.” I didn’t quite get what he meant until I glanced out this window—the whole structure is enclosed in a giant triangular wall, the rows of camps forming semicircles facing the gate. It was quite jarring to look at, and to contemplate what had taken place here. It’s kind of beyond words for me.

We also visited the Stasi Archives. These were where the East German secret police kept their files on citizens. An estimated 51% of the East German population was associated with the Stasi in some way, as official or unofficial spies, according to our tour guide. She recounted to us a story about a woman whose husband had been spying on her for years and she had no idea. Nowadays, citizens of the former East Germany can request that their file be released, but the average processing time is about 2 years. When I think about it, I’m not sure if I would want my file or not—imaging finding out that one of your parents or sibling had been giving the Stasi your private information!

On a lighter note, we also took a short bus ride to the city of Potsdam to visit the castles of old Prussian kings, as well as the offices of the Potsdam conference. The castle pictured above, Sans Souci (Without Worry) was the home of Fredrick the Great King of Prussia… and his 11 greyhounds. He loved these dogs so much, he had them buried next to him on the grounds of the castle.  Potsdam is quite the gem of a city—I highly recommend taking the time to visit!

In our free time, we were able to roam around the city, using our transit pass for the subway and the tram. Berlin is very large with so much to do, so we didn’t have any trouble keeping ourselves busy. One treasure that we stumbled upon was the Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm Zentrum, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin Library. Pictured above is a view of the library’s astounding architecture—this style is characteristic of the Bauhaus movement in Germany, which is also very popular in the United States! Many famous Bauhaus artists moved to the USA to escape WWII.

On our last night in Berlin, a group of us managed to buy tickets to the Berlin Philharmonic. This was an amazing experience, especially as a fan of classical music, it’s probably the most famous orchestra hall in the world. We saw a group from Berlin University of the Arts’ rendition of Mahler 9—it was absolutely incredible.

As far as Berlin goes, there’s plenty to do to experience the culture, enjoy yourself, and learn about German history.

Tschüss! (It means bye, people didn’t really say Auf Wiedersehen)

Melanie Landsittel is a senior at Chatham, majoring in Visual Arts: with a double concentration in Studio Art and Art History. Melanie works in the Office of International Affairs.

Interested in study abroad? Contact internationalaffairs@chatham.edu to find out about options available!

Three Rivers Arts Festival

by Kylie Fletcher, OIA Student Worker

This summer I went to the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Downtown Pittsburgh. The festival took place June 1-10, which is the same time as Pride events. This year I did what I did last year, my first year living in Pittsburgh during the summer, and I went to both events. Pittsburgh Pride is an event that encourages LGBTQ+ individuals and people who support them to show their pride for the LGBTQ+ community. There’s always a march at the end of the week, with dancers, drummers, and regular people joining in.

Both the Arts Festival and Pittsburgh Pride are always crowded, especially during Sunday, the last day for both events. For the Three River Arts Festival, I go there once the crowds for the Pride events are too overwhelming for me. The two festivals are a street away from each other so going to both is no issue. I think the best part about the arts festival is the atmosphere. The Pride atmosphere is overwhelming after a few hours; it’s very loud and colorful. The arts festival is calm and relaxing. The Point is at the end of the Three Rivers Arts Festival as well, which isn’t often filled with people. Going to the Point after the long day of celebrating to take a rest is really pleasant. There’s enough people there to make the space feel inviting but not so much that it’s loud.

Art at the Three River Arts Festival is very mixed. There are a lot of different kinds of art made from different mediums. I think the most kind of art I saw were different household items and instruments made from wood around the entrance. Wooden cooking utensils and ceramic bowls and plates were rather abundant considering they made up about half of all the art. Vendors selling their paintings were mostly around all the food and the performers’ stage. I think the most interesting pieces I saw were paper cutting and record cutting.

At one small booth a man was selling different paper cuttings. He had some premade that he brought but if you wanted, he could commission a paper cutting. I heard from a friend when she went to the festival the day before me that he saw this woman who said it was her birthday and made her something for free. She had given birth recently and really quickly he made a paper cut out of a pregnant woman. When you moved the arms, a baby would come out of the figure. My friend said she didn’t notice any sort of glue or anything, so he made the entire piece with cutting and folding paper.

Another booth near the end of the festival had old records that had different figures or words cut out of them. The artist had heated a knife and used a hot knife to score where he wanted to cut into the record. While the material was still pliable, he used an x-acto knife to cut out pieces from the record. The process was probably rather tedious, since the material of the record probably cools pretty quickly. Most of what the artist was selling was preexisting popular logos and figures that would sell better than original artwork. There were portraits of famous people, mostly old rock stars, and logos of old rock bands cut from the records. I think his idea would be really cool for original artwork.

The way that a design would have to be made reminds me of art I made in a printmaking course I took. For wood block printing, the design you make has to be simple, since you can’t easily create tones between the color of the paper and the color of the ink. For the record cutting, you can’t create tones between the shapes because you have to create the design from negative space, the space cut from the record.

Umbrella project, Three Rivers Arts Festival 2017

The different public art pieces at the festival are interesting along with the art being sold. Last year there was a display of dozens of different colored umbrellas at the entrance of the festival. This year the umbrellas were taken down and the main walkway had signs the encouraged breastfeeding in public. The signs showed historical paintings with speech bubbles drawn by the people’s faces that said “Wow isn’t this a great place for breastfeeding?”.  I’m not sure if the water’s dyed or it’s painted on the inside, but there’s a really beautiful fountain with the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

Kylie Fletcher is a senior at Chatham, majoring in Media Arts: Graphic Design and Cultural Studies. Kylie works in the Office of International Affairs.

Overcoming Fears of Studying Abroad and Widening Outlooks of the World

By Karun Lelahuta, ELP Graduate, Chatham Graduate Student

Karun and friends – Academic Communication class

Karun wrote a speech to celebrate the his graduation from the English Language Program at Chatham University. He shares that studying abroad has helped him to widen his outlooks of the world, grow up and stand on his own, and love to make mistakes because that’s how he learns new things.

After studying at Chatham University for 9 months, I have gained much experience that guides me to become a person who I want to be.

Before I talk about the challenges I face during my study abroad experience, I want to tell you about my background. I was an unconfident person who tried to avoid groups of people. In daily life I used to be alone rather than hang around with my friends. My parents were concerned about me that I might have trouble when I grew up because I would have to work with many people. After I graduated from university in Thailand, they decided to send me to study abroad. My parents said to me, “You have to regain your English language skills” and they took me the United States. I can still remember how much I resisted to coming to the U.S. I thought to myself so many times day by day about why they wanted me to go to the U.S. just because of English. Finally, when they said to me that I could come back after 6 months, I agreed with them and came here to Pittsburgh.

Life in the United States was not as easy as I had thought. The first day I arrived in Chicago I had a horrible experience. I missed my flight to Pittsburgh, not because I was lost or I did not have enough time to transfer to another flight, but because of the TSA staff. She was very upset and shouted every minute, and she did her work very slowly, so I was stuck there for more than two hours and missed my flight. At that moment, I was so frustrated. I said to my mother who came along with me that I hated the United States. However, after that experience things got better. I tried to communicate with other students. At first, it was very hard to step out of my comfort zone. I was scared to make mistakes. I feared to communicate because my English was weak. I was afraid that I would lose my Japanese. However, I did not have any friend who can speak Thai, so it forced me to focus on my English. I am no longer afraid to face many challenges. I found Japanese friends. I overcame my fears.

I always think about the reasons why I came to the United States. Improving the second language is part of studying abroad. I think it helps me to learn other cultures and different ways of thinking. It helps me to have a wider outlook of the world after I have met so many people around the world. It helps me grow up and stand on my own because my family or my friends who always support me are not here, so I have to do everything by myself. It helps me love to make mistakes because I can learn new things. So, I always remember what my parents said to me “be brave and keep learning. You already have a chance to improve yourselves. Do not let it go.”

Don’t let your life drift away. Don’t let your emotions like fear control you – you have to control them. Don’t judge other people because you will learn something from them. Don’t fear to make mistakes. Don’t lose your hope because it will make you stronger. Step out of your cover and your will enjoy your new life.

I cannot say I already achieve all of my goals of studying abroad. I still have to learn many things to improve myself. However, I think to myself that I would not be a person who I am right now if my parents had never let me study aboard, and I  would not be joyful if I had never met my friends here. So I want to thank you to everyone who always supports me. Thank you.

Making the Best of What you Have

By Aristote Kipayko, ELP Graduate, Chatham Undergraduate Student

Asked to write a commencement speech to students graduating from the English Language Program, Aris writes, “We had better start looking at the light to see where we are going.” He urges the students to make the best of what they have now to have a great future.

About Aris: My name is Aristote Kipayko. I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I plan to graduate with a double major in Economics and Management Information System at Chatham University, class of 2021. I chose to get into business because I believe that everything nowadays is related to business and money. I am interested to know the real use of money and the different impacts it can have on any individual.

Aris’s speech:

I’m pleased to be with you at this time today for your commencement to a new step in your journey. Most of you have gone through a lot in order to be here with us. It may look easy, but only you can know the pain and suffering you have encountered.

I assume that many of you had the same problem as me when arriving in Pittsburgh and trying to settle. For me, the Pittsburgh weather was the first challenge I faced. It could get so cold in a day just as it could get so warm as well. I come from Africa and most of you might know or heard that it is usually way warmer in Africa in comparison to America. Adapting to the cold weather in Pittsburgh was really hard.  Determination and desire to learn more were the keys to help me overcome that challenge. It helped me to stay strong and stay focused in class.

Apart from the weather, food in America was also a big challenge. I was surprised that the quality of the food here would be so bad. I felt that I had led myself into a dark journey. I realized that I was eating more organic food back to my country, and it took me about two months to get used to the food here. In order to move forward, I had to make it a small deal and move on. Just like Ron Shayka said, “When all you see are shadows, you never see light.” We had better start looking at the light to see where we are going.

Once again, I want to congratulate all of you for your achievements. We still all have a lot to achieve, but this is also a big step. Just like Steve Jobs said, “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish.” Nothing is more important than always want to learn more. Success is a fruit from hard work and dedication. The future is in our hands. John Schaar wrote that “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made.” Therefore, you have to make the best of what you have now to have a great future.

The Best Environment for Learning and Growth

By Issareeyaporn (Wi) Praisuwanna, Chatham Undergradaute Student, International Student Ambassador

Email: Issareeyaporn.Prais@Chatham.edu

I’m Wi. I am a transfer international student from Olympic College in Washington State. All of my credits were able to transfer to the business program at Chatham University. I love Chatham University and Pittsburgh❤❤❤. The reason is that Chatham University provides me with a suitable program, small classes, friendly professors, nice friends with great diversity, but not too many international students, the best location, and the best environment for learning and growth.

– สวัสดีทุกคน

เราชื่อ วิ นะ เราเป็นเป็นนักเรียนต่างชาติมาจากประเทศไทยจ้า เราโอนหน่วยกิจมาจากวิทยาลัยแห่งหนึ่งในรัฐวอชิงตันนะ หน่วยกิจทั้งหมดของเราสามารถโอนมาใช้ในคณะบริหารของมหาลัย Chatham ได้ เราอยากบอกทุกคนว่า เราชอบมหาลัย Chatham และ เมือง Pittsburgh มากกกกกกกกกก เพราะนักศึกษาต่อห้องน้อย มีโปรแกรมที่เราอยากเรียน เจอเพื่อนจากหลายเชื้อชาติ แต่ก็ไม่ได้มีนักเรียนต่างชาติเยอะจนเกินไป มหาลัยตั้งอยู่ในที่ๆไม่วุ่นวาย แต่ก็ไม่ห่างจากที่ซื้อของมากจนเกินไป นอกจากนี้มหาลัยก็มีบรรยากาศที่ดี

Begin Your Study Abroad Journey with Chatham English Language Program

By Duyen Nguyen, Former ELP Student

Choosing Chatham English Language Program to begin my “Study Abroad” journey was the best decision in my life.

Going Apes in North Park

Xin chào,

Mình là Duyên Nguyễn, sinh viên của chương trình English Language Program khóa mùa xuân và mùa hè năm 2017 tại Chatham University.

Đối với mình được đi du học là một cơ hội rất lớn mà chính bản thân mình cũng không ngờ tới, nhưng lựa chọn Chatham University là trường để bắt đầu cuộc hành trình mang tên “Du Học” thì đây chính là quyết định đúng đắn nhất của cuộc đời mình.

Nếu để diễn tả Chatham University trong ba cụm từ, mình sẽ nói: khuôn viên tuyệt đẹp, giáo viên tuyệt vời, và chương trình học cực kì linh hoạt. Chatham University là một môi trường hoàn hảo để tập trung vào việc học, nhưng không những thế Chatham cũng có những hoạt động ngoại khóa để sinh viên khám phá vẻ đẹp của Pittsburgh. Có lẽ rất nhiều người sẽ nghĩ rằng chương trình Tiếng Anh thì khá là khô khan. Nhưng giáo viên và các hoạt động tại Chatham sẽ khiến mọi người có cách nhìn khác về những khóa học Tiếng Anh. Nhờ những chương trình học linh hoạt, học Tiếng Anh sẽ không đơn giản chỉ học về những ngữ pháp, từ vựng hay lý thuyết, mà giáo viên tại Chatham sẽ khiến các bài giảng trở nên thú vị hơn bằng những bài học về văn hóa nước Mỹ, những cuộc thảo luận sôi nổi đầy tiếng cười, và cả những bộ phim.

Trong suốt hai khóa học ở Chatham, mình có thể nói rằng đó là khoảng thời gian không thể nào quên được.

For more information: email internationalaffairs@chatham.edu or call (1)412-365-1388.  Visit our website at www.chatham.edu/elp.

Escape from Weekday Blues

By Chika Kitaghishi, Chatham Semester Exchange Student

“Find a partner for the upcoming presentation, and hand in a three page-long paper before the next class. See you in two days then.” I was so astonished and overwhelmed by how my first American class started. I remember how awkwardly I talked to an American classmate to ask her to be my presentation partner in the first class. However, it has been almost a month since then, and now I am getting to know how to manage time, deal with stress, and more than anything, enjoy all the differences of studying abroad. I love professors from the English Language Program and other departments here at Chatham, who are always there to support us, and friends I met at Chatham, who always blow away my depressions. Here is a picture when Chatham University surprised students with inflatables, and I and my conversation partner had a little great escape from weekday blues.

「次回の授業までにプレゼンテーションのパートナーを決めることと、3枚分のレポートを提出してください。それでは2日後にまた。」アメリカ人学生と初めての授業に驚くと同時に圧倒されることばかりでしたが、クラスメイトのひとりにプレゼンテーションのペアにならないかと恐る恐る話しかけたのがもう約1か月前のことです。チャタム大学は生徒と生徒の距離だけでなく生徒と教授の距離がとても近いところが魅力です。勉学に多忙なアメリカの大学生活の中でアメリカ文化から多くを学びながら、毎日充実した日々を過ごしています。写真はチャタム大学内のイベントにコンバセーションパートナーと参加した時のものです。

Speech for Equality: Have You Ever Asked Yourself What It Would Be Like If You Couldn’t Marry The One That You Love?

By Joyce Nguyen, ELP Student

Have you ever asked yourself what would it be like if you couldn’t marry the one that you love?

To be honest, I used to be terrified of gay people when I was a little kid, because my relatives told me that being gay was just wrong. Growing up, I became conscious of what was happening in my life. There was a significant thing that I learned, which was I couldn’t judge gay people because they were living a life that they belonged. There is no one to interrupt our lives; we could live a life whatever we want, but why couldn’t gay people live a life that they were born with?

During the time when I was in elementary school, I saw my friend, who is gay, being abused by another student. At that moment, I realized that I couldn’t watch my friend be abused just because of his gender, and I understood that I didn’t have the courage to see my fellow-creature being unequally treated also. We are all human, not only thinking by our head but also thinking by our heart. Although people all over the world have fought for human rights for many years, there are still some of those people who cannot bear gay people. Aren’t gay people human, too?

Yes, they are. The red blood is running in their body the same as us. They are normal; they are working hard to be parents. When it comes to being able to get a home, earning a place to live, being served by business, they should be treated like anyone else. As ex-president Barack Obama states, “We live in an America where all of us are treated more equally, because visiting hours in hospital are no longer depend on who you are and insurance companies can no longer turn somebody away simply because of who you love.” The knowledge about the LGBT community is and has been understood in the wrong way. Most people think being gay is a mental illness that should be treated by medicine or they need to meet a psychologist to become a normal person. Therefore, education plays an important role to heighten public awareness of the LGBT community.

Imagine that you were born with yellow skin. In everyone’s awareness, people who have yellow skin type are inferior, or have “mental illness”, or “something needs to be cured”. You use a ton of specialist cream to change your original skin into another color that you think could help you look like “a normal person”. You can tell the world that you are an ordinary person now, but you cannot change the fact that you are a yellow-skinned person. Think carefully, it must be extremely hurtful to hide who you are because nobody likes it.

I gave you this example to show that it feels painful, devastating to become someone else and not yourself. Could you imagine what would happen if you get married with someone that you don’t love? I could imagine that it feels awfully dreadful; I will live a wasted life, harassing myself for the rest of my life, watching the one I love from behind, I may want to ask myself just one question “What am I trying for?” Not only will it hurt me, but also the one that I don’t love will also feel awful. Normally, people can’t help who they fall in love with, so it’s unimaginable to say the LGBT community is not allowed to love people who have the same gender.

In conclusion, the LGBT community is not disease; they are trying hard to achieve their dreams the same as normal people. I have a dream that my children will be able to live in a world that I don’t need to tell them please treat your gay friends, your gay neighbors the same as us. Gay marriage becomes common day by day, and we should adjust ourselves to adapt it. It doesn’t feel right to get married to someone that you don’t love. Not only can gay people can feel how much it hurts, but also the normal people can feel hurt, too.

Speech for Equality: Feeling Happy Together with “Buraku” People

By Natsuki Sakagami, ELP Student

In our town, there are deep-rooted problems that have not resolved for a long time. In our town, there are people called “Buraku” that refers to the people who lived in a small area of the town. In our town, there are people who got a raw deal in spite of living in the same town. Why do people discriminate against them? Why can’t we treat them without discrimination?

Let me explain the history of the “Buraku” people.

A long time ago, Japan had the class system to separate people who handle the dead body of people and animals from samurai and common people. In that period, the death and the blood were perceived as dirty, so the “Buraku” people were also perceived as dirty. And unfortunately it had not changed for a long time. This is so wrong. Because they’re just like us, aren’t they?

In Meiji period, however, Japanese government abolished that system to get rid of our disparity, to unify our rank and to treat us equally. After many, many years, finally they are perceived as equal according to the law. Already 150 years have passed since the crass system was abolished. Already 150 years have passed since we should have treated them equally. And yet, even now, why do we treat them as before? Why can’t we stand in the same place? Why can’t we think of them as the same residents? Why do we have prejudice for them? “Do you want to change our future?”

I believe that people who can resolve our problem are only us. I believe that people who can change our future are also only us. I have a lot of dreams which would be enough. For now, I want to fulfil my dream with us. I want you to have same dreams with me. And then we can take our problem away. Our children will spend time together without thinking about the difference. We can go back and forth in our town without thinking about the difference. For now, let’s step into a new place where all people can feel happy together.

Speech for Equality: Would You Like to Make a Fair World Where All People Can Say, “I Love You So Much”?

By Seina Maeda, ELP Student

Have you ever loved someone? Do you have someone who you care about? I’m sure that all of us will answer yes, and I also say yes. It is natural to be attracted to someone even if the person is a man or a woman. However, there are people who cannot say “I love you” in a loud voice, because some of us reject them and do not allow them. They are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. Do you have a friend who is a left-handed person? Do you have a friend who has type AB blood? And then, do you have a friend who is LGBT? The number of people who recognize themselves that they are LGBT is the same number of left-handed people and people who have type AB blood. How many of us know this fact? Probably, most of us do not know about that, and we think that the number of LGBT people in Japan is not so high. The reason why we do not recognize the number is large is that we created the society in which they cannot mention they are LGBT easily.

There is one group who tackles the issue of suicide among LGBTs. According to The White Ribbon Campaign, sixty percent of the students who are tormented for their gender identity have attempted to commit suicide. Most of them have doubts that they are little different from other students when they are from thirteen to fifteen years old, and some of them cannot go their school and others experience bullying. Sadly, bullies are not only students, but also their teachers. Have you listened to someone say, “He is a boy but looks like a girl”? Have you told your children, “Be a man” or “Play like a girl”? If the boy or the girl is worried about their gender, our thoughtless action and word become invisible knives. As you know, words cut more than swords.

Today people get a better grasp about LGBT people little by little in Japan, but many of them still carry their true color under cover in their heart. We have people who are given up by their family after confiding they are LGBT. We have people who commit corrective rape because their family cannot accept that fact. Do you know these facts? If you don’t know about them, please pay attention to these facts, please think over people around you once again, and please don’t laugh at them.

People often tell their children to respect others, and not to make fun of others. Why do we forget about these things? It is the next generation to change their future life, but it is not them to improve our present life. It is us. When you are going to your company tomorrow, let’s care about our colleagues more than today? Even if we cannot take any action for LGBT people, we can just accept and watch them in our heart. Would you like to make a society where all people can take a walk holding their lover’s hand? Would you like to make a fair world where all people can say, “I love you so much”?