by Megan Delaney, sophomore, English and International Studies major
An average day at Chatham for me starts around 9:00 am. I am lucky to have not had too many early morning classes, and I like to be up around an hour before my first class begins. After waking up, I shower, get dressed, and brush my teeth. I try to eat breakfast every morning. Usually, it consists of something like cereal or a granola bar, but sometimes I use my blender to make a smoothie or protein shake. After eating, I head up the stairs to campus. Most of my classes take place in Falk or Coolidge Hall, but I have had some science-related classes in Buhl Hall.
A majority of my classes fall under the realm of humanities, so this means a lot of discussion and collaboration in class. Some of these classes include Intro to Women Writers and Shakespeare Survey. After class is over, I might stop at Cafe Rachel for an iced tea. I usually make my own meals in my apartment’s kitchen, but I will also stop at Anderson or get a quick lunch at Cafe Rachel if I see something I like.
The number of classes I have in one day can vary, and I have had anywhere from one to four classes in a single day. Regardless, I usually have some free time for dinner. Similar to lunch, I often make my own dinner, but sometimes meet with friends at Anderson for a meal. I complete most of my studying and homework in the evenings, but I try to give myself enough time to wind down before sleeping around midnight. On the weekend, my schedule looks quite different, as I utilize those days to spend time with friends, run errands, and explore Pittsburgh. I have spent a lot of time in places like Shadyside, Oakland, and Squirrel Hill, trying out various restaurants and attractions. I find that mostly everything I need at college can be reached by walking or taking a quick bus ride.
Although mine is just one experience, I have found that life at Chatham can be what you make it. There are many exciting opportunities on campus and around the city to explore!
Join Chatham University students and students from various countries in a Let’s Talk Friday event. You’ll have the opportunity to make friends, share your goal in 2021, and seek suggestions on overcoming the obstacles to achieve the goal. Please prepare for these two questions in advance.
1. In 1-2 minutes, please tell us your name and three words or phrases that describe your background and why those words/phrases are important to you.
2. In 2 minutes, talk about a goal that you’d like to achieve in 2021 and what obstacles may stop you from achieving the goal.
Please be ON TIME as you may not be admitted to the meeting if you are not on time.
The Open Doors 2020 Data Release were released on November 16. Watch the VIDEO RELEASE here. Representatives from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education released findings from the 2020 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
IIE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has been central to our mission and we continue to practice and reaffirm that commitment in our programming throughout the world. Join a panel of IIE team members from across our global offices moderated by Mary Karam McKey, Head of IIE’s Corporate & Foundation Programs. Panelists will explore regional considerations around DEI as well as incorporating it into program design and implementation. Panelists and locations include:
Ethiopia Abebe, Lead, Ethiopia and Sub Saharan Africa (Addis Ababa)
Jonathan Lembright, Head, Southeast Asia (Bangkok)
Nichole Johnson, Director, Private Sector Program Development (NYC)
Evgenia Valuy, Lead, Evaluation and Learning (NYC)
Michelle Pickard, Director, Gilman International Scholarship Program (Houston)
Akta Sawhney, Senior Program Specialist (New Delhi)
Exchange alumni contribute to society in positive ways and, shaped by their lived experiences, become leaders who are working to address the world’s most pressing challenges. Michelle Dass Pickard, IIE’s Director of the Gilman International Scholarship Program, will be joined by alumni of various leadership development and exchange programs who will discuss the need for these programs in light of current challenges, the importance of DEI in programs, and considerations to ensure that the benefit of the exchange experience does not end with the individual participant.
NAFSA INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK CAMPUS CONNECTION
Our Future: The Next Four Years, 1:00pm- 2:30pm ET
Examine the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election and how it will impact international education, diplomacy and engagement with the world.
Tuesday, November 17
Social Justice & International Education: Exploring the Intersections, 10:00am- 1:00pm ET
Wednesday, November 18
NAFSA Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization Presidential Panel and Award Recognition, 1:00pm-2:30pm ET
Recognize the achievements of the 2020 NAFSA Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization winners and join us for a live Presidential Panel.
Thursday, November 19
Perspectives on Engaging Today’s Students, 1:00pm ET
Friday, November 20
Fall 2020 NAFSA Research Symposium: A Critical Discussion of Theories, Methodologies, and Practices in International Education, 9:30am-1:30pm ET
I was hoping to hear, as in years past, reflective stories delivered by our Chatham domestic and foreign students. In previous International Educational Symposiums, students would relay their various challenges they’d had to overcome in their chosen country to study, as well as highlights of their stay. Highlights usually included the lifelong friends they’d established, teachers and classes that had helped to improve their skills and broaden their horizons, and places they’d had the chance to visit.
This year, although some reflections presented resembled those in the past, many highlights had a very different color and energy compared to previous ones. On a similar note, the mountains that needed to be summited were steeper and more dimly lit. Yes, perhaps fewer friendships were forged, but the strength and supportiveness of those friendships seemed to surpass those from previous years. Yes, many of the classes were hybrid or fully virtual, and yet students seemed to invest more time honing academic skills, independent learning, reading, in addition to perfecting creative talents and athletic skills.
All of this and more, despite the uncertainty that this year has wrought on all of us, our families, and friends. I was deeply touched by the talks our students gave, moved by their ability to see the beauty in a time where others might not, moved by their level of reflection and stamina to move forward when others might feel a malaise or paralysis. Actually I assume the students who gave their talk during IEW feel many of the same fears and hesitation the rest of us feel, but they’ve managed to rein in the negativity to keep moving forward. That’s why the IEW talks this past week seemed especially precious and why I’ll always treasure their inspiring messages.
I’d like to give a heartfelt thanks to all of you awesome students, including Hiroki, Miku, Hanna, Walker, and Lerlina, who openly shared your hearts and minds with us.
Dr. Linh Phung wrote this reflection to inspire her students to write their own reflection on their experience during COVID-19. She shares it here with the hope to hear more stories and reflections from others.
Life-changing news came in droves in the week of March 9, 2020. Restrictions on gatherings were announced at the university earlier in the week. The IELTS workshop that I had spent so much time arranging was effectively cancelled. The much anticipated TESOL Convention, where thousands of English teachers would meet to share ideas and get inspired, was called off. On Thursday, after I finished teaching, I gathered my books and work computer to bring home, considering the high chance of not being able to return to work the following week. Then it all became clear on Friday, March 13. We were in “lockdown.” Every “non-essential” worker, not only at Chatham, but in many parts of the state, was ordered to stay at home. The daycare was closed, and my 18-month-old baby was also ordered to “shelter in place.” My husband and I congregated at home with laptops, monitors, and phones on the dining table, trying to work while the baby did everything but allow us to work. What just happened?
New COVID-related vocabularies broadcast on the air and though social media became everyday lingo: positive cases, contact tracing, social distancing, self-isolation, lockdown, and so on. Life had no choice but to go on, but in a much smaller and restricted manner in the physical space of home. In my English Language Program (ELP), some international students were recalled home while others were understandably disappointed with the move to virtual learning and physical confinement. “This is not the study-abroad experience that we signed up for” was the sentiment that many stated. The program carried on with 20 hours of English instruction on Zoom, offered conversation hours and games on Zoom, and gathered for the End-of-Term Celebration on Zoom. There were undoubtedly frustrations, challenges, and Zoom fatigue, but there were also highlights of what was inspiring and heart-warming as we came to terms with the new reality. One such highlight was what students wrote in their submissions to the ELP Writing Contest: words of hope, unity, care, and living life in the moment as well as the humor of “staring straight in the eyes” of the virus with a stern warning that “you can’t divide us.” All of these gave me the positive energy, going into another semester of virtual classes with the determination of making instruction better for students. There is no choice but to persist, is there?
With students taking classes from four countries in vastly different time zones in the summer, the summer classes were challenging time-wise, yet diverse and exciting. Overall, I had a stellar group of students, and in the end, I think the semester was a success with students appreciating what they learned from the Reading course and the “Science of Wellbeing” course on Coursera that we were all enrolled in. To me, the “Happiness” course as we called it was a highlight of the summer as we learned about what really matters for our subjective happiness, the fallacies of our mind, and simple-to-understand-but-difficult-to-implement strategies to boost our happiness. Connecting with others, being kind to others, expressing gratitude, and focusing on the here-and-now are not only strategies supported by a large body of happiness research, but also, I think, ones that bring us together as social beings and help us look deeper into ourselves as individual beings. I’m still far from turning those strategies into sustainable habits, but I have some hope that by making these small changes, I can better maintain my mental health and live a more meaningful life.
Now being well into the fall semester without any hope of Covid-19 going away anytime soon, I’ve also come to appreciate the silver linings of a world less restricted by physical barriers. Apart from teaching my usual lessons to college students, I have conducted countless virtual conversation hours for students of all ages. I’ve presented on Facebook live to nearly a thousand viewers. I’ve attended far more conference presentations than in any normal year. I talk with colleagues from all over the world on a weekly basis. I’m collaborating on research with friends and colleagues. I’ve found my professional life expanded. If happiness means having a pleasant life, an engaged life, and/or a meaningful life, I’m certainly having a more engaged work life and feeling good about it.
The world is now hoping for a vaccine that can be efficiently distributed so that we can soon get back to our normal life: A life with concerts, gatherings, hugs, and kisses that no technologies can simulate. A life when we can go out to lunch with colleagues, visit places with students, and exchange small talks in hallways and on campus walks. However, I also wonder about the lasting impacts of the new ways of teaching, working, communicating, and conferencing during Covid on the future of my work and professional life. Some questions come to mind.
What elements of virtual teaching, assessment, and student services will likely stick around?
To what extent will university staff go back to work in the office and continue to telework?
What are the benefits and challenges of both options? What will encourage more productivity and engagement?
Will colleagues from near and far still gather to share ideas across borders or will we retreat back to our local networks?
Dare to make predictions? Please leave your comments!
My name is Bich Ta from Hanoi, Vietnam. I received a scholarship to study English virtually with the English Language Program at Chatham University in the Summer 2020 semester. I am now planning to do a Master’s Degree in Sustainability in Europe.
The 2020 Summer ELP semester at Chatham University truly expanded my horizon for many reasons. Firstly, I studied with two most enthusiastic teachers: Dr. Linh Phung and Prof. Sylvia Shipp. They were excellent in pedagogical skills, and always supportive whenever I and my classmates needed help. Besides, I had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to make friends with people from different parts of the world namely Japan, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia. During the semester, they were friendly and helpful to me. Even now, we still keep in touch to talk and study together.
In addition, every course in the summer semester was immensely intriguing and useful, which helped me lay a solid foundation for studying academic subjects of my upcoming Master’s course. To be more specific, not only did I gain a deeper insight into American culture, but I was also guided to make appealing presentations, analyze scientific research, and do group projects. One thing I am extremely grateful for is that we studied together about the science of happiness. We all know that the emergence of Covid-19 has changed our lives enormously. And it’s so thoughtful that our teachers gave us the opportunity to find out how to improve our well-being, and learnt the fallacies of the human mind.
Last but not least, the Office of International Affairs at Chatham University provided us with a wide range of activities outside classes like Let’s talk Friday, Conversation Partner Program, and Kahoot Games. I joined most of the activities, and that was why I felt more confident to communicate with others in English. I’d also like to share good news that I recently achieved an IELTS score of 7.0, an improvement from my previous score after the summer program with Chatham.
Looking back at the whole summer semester, I have no regrets to invest time in studying with Chatham since I learnt many things both for my English skills and social knowledge. If I have a chance, I would definitely love to visit Chatham University one day as I was impressed about the beauty of the green and sustainable Campuses.
I’m happy to make friends. So, if you want me to share more about my experience with Chatham, please feel free to connect me by email at Bich.Ta@Chatham.edu.