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Speech for Equality: Let’s Begin to Walk a Road of Gender Equality

By Nagisa Fujimoto, ELP Student

Dear fellow women citizens and those who want to overcome gender-based discrimination.

Last year, The World Economic Forum proclaimed that Japan was 111th out of 144 countries in The Global Gender Gap Index. The Global Gender Gap Index is an index designed to measure gender equality. I was shocked at the ranking because not only was it our home country but also a country with strong economic power.

I am a student now, so I feel less discrimination against women compared to working women or married women. However, in 3 years I will go into the workforce, and I will probably face some detrimental treatment based on gender. If you are a student like me, you really need to know that even today a lot of women continue to fight for equality. If you are working, you need to think again whether your workplace does actualize equality of women and men. If you are a homemaker, you need to reimagine if you are sharing the housework equally with your husband.

Before I talk about the issue in Japan, I’d like to ask you some questions. Do you have stereotypes toward women or men? Or have you ever felt that stereotypes are obstacles in your life? As a typical example, women should be quieter and submissive, or women should cook and do homemaking. On the other hand, men should not shed tears and should be assertive or don’t have to do homemaking and raise their children. These kinds of stereotypes make it harder for us women to work, or they sometimes make us uncomfortable in our daily life. But also, some men feel stressed about stereotypes toward them. We women tend to expect men to be strong or be good at math, but again those are stereotypes.

In Japan, pay gaps between men and women are widening, and it would be difficult for women to return to their workplace when they got married or delivered a baby. The Japanese government is struggling to fix these problems, but the gap still does not close.

Another remarkable thing is the low representation of women in politics. According to a survey, the proportion of women politicians in global average is about 22 percent while the one in Japan is about 8 percent. I wonder when the first female prime minister will be elected in Japan.

We need to think not only about the workplace issues, but also domestic ones. In Japan, a division of labor by gender is still strongly rooted; men work outside and women work inside. This idea is also a stereotype, but it is not rational and fair for both women and men. It is sad that we are assumed what we must do by our gender.

I hope that women keep seeking gender equality and do not abandon the hope for it. Gender equality means that we have a right to be provided various opportunities in life regardless of our gender and we should be able to achieve opportunities for self-realization.

Let us aspire to be whatever we want to be. We can be a doctor, a politician, a scientist, police officer, and a lawyer. Let us speak out if our boss runs over us because we are a woman. Let us say to our husband to become more active in caring for our children. Some women strike a balance between child raising and work, but it is mentally and physically demanding and they often need the assistance of their husband. Let us ask our husbands to cook or make our children’s lunches. No rules exist that the mother or wife must prepare meals. And let’s try to view ourselves as human beings, not only as women or men. Let’s break free from an island of gender segregation and begin to walk a road of gender equality.

Speech for Equality: Going Hand in Hand Together with People Living with HIV

By Rumi Horibe, ELP Student

Do you know what day December 1st is? It is “World AIDS Day.” And it is an international day for people in the world to commemorate people who died with AIDS and support people living with HIV. Wearing a Red ribbon means you have no bias about HIV and AIDS.

By the way, how much knowledge do you have about HIV? Some people may have the following prejudices:

It infects with a handshake and a conversation with people having HIV. It infects when you enter the same bath or pool with HIV people. It infects when you use the same daily necessities as them such as toilet, dishes, and towels. It infects by getting bit by a mosquito that sucked their blood.

All of these are wrong. There are only three infection routes of HIV: sexual contact, blood infection, and mother-to-child transmission. So, what I want to point out is “HIV does not infect by contact in daily life”. Even if someone is infected with HIV, early detection and early treatment make it possible to suppress the onset of AIDS.

However, many people living with HIV in the world still have been discriminated against because of the incorrect knowledge at work, in school, and in the community. Some people are scared of infected people and are looking at them with contempt.

In fact, the place with most discrimination against HIV are medical and welfare places. In Japan, a case which a dental clinic in Kochi prefecture refused treatment for HIV-positive people was widely reported in 2014. Surprisingly, according to the data from 50 countries, it shows that one in eight people living with HIV have been denied healthcare in the hospital. People with HIV have been biased not only by ordinary people but also by medical personnel.

Moreover, it is thought that the socially vulnerable including black people, gay, transgender, drug users, and sex workers are the main infected persons. Some people seem to regard HIV as the result of evil and corrupt life. In 2013 in Japan, a man who had been doing job hunting honestly confirmed that “I had HIV” in an interview because he was worried that other people might be infected through injuries. Then, the person in charge of the interview asked mercilessly, “Why did you get HIV?”, “Are you a gay person?” No matter how many times he explained “if I continue to drink medicine, AIDS will be suppressed”, he could not get an understanding. “I felt frustrated and I never forgot that cold gaze.”, he said.

In this way, many HIV people have been taken away from human rights due to wrong knowledge and prejudice. They are suffering not only physical pain, but also mentally.

Do you know these facts?  Let’s help people with HIV together.

Everyone has equal rights to live freely and humanly. Everyone has an equal right to take the same treatment in the hospital and get a job. I want to insist again, “HIV has never infected by contact in daily life.” Let’s spread correct knowledge about HIV and fight against biases of HIV.

Also, let’s not forget the date of December 1st. It’s time to unite together with wearing a Red ribbon. It’s time to give a hand to people with HIV and help them from mountains of despair.

I hope December 1st will be a more important day for us to consider HIV and AIDS. With a Red ribbon, I think we will be able to go hand in hand together with people living with HIV.

Diverse Voices: An Interview with ELP Students

By Sarah Bangley, Chatham Undergraduate Student, ELP Intern

ELP Students, Summer 2016

Every year, students from around the world come to study at Chatham through the English Language Program. I recently sat down with students from Vietnam, Mali, Saudi Arabia, and India to discuss their experiences at Chatham.

We began our discussion with some of the differences between Chatham and their home school. The buildings on Chatham’s campus were a particular focus of comparison. A student who wished to remain anonymous said, “In Vietnam, we have to study in a small school. We don’t even have a student lounge. There are not as many buildings as here.” Hassana, from Mali, added, “Here, it is more developed than my school— for example, the computer and projector. In my home, it is just starting to be developed.” Bholika shared a larger-scale comparison of school systems: “In India, we have four year undergraduate programs and two year Master’s programs. Admission is based on 12-standard score— if we have a good score, we can go to a good university. But here, you can go to any school you want.”

I asked each of them about the issues they faced when speaking English. They expressed their own personal difficulties. The student from Vietnam told me, “When I want to talk with someone, but I will think in Vietnamese first.” Hassana encountered a similar issue: “[English] is kind of like French, but not really. I still pronounce some words like French.” For Bholika, English slang proved to be a hurdle, especially when she couldn’t find the meaning through Google. Abdullah, from Saudi Arabia, mentioned a class he took to help with that issue: “I went to Point Park and took an idiom class, and actually it’s helpful when people speak, like “piece of cake.” I didn’t understand idioms before.”

On the topic of idioms, two students provided me with sayings from their home countries. In Vietnam, they say: “Mot hon da trung hai con nhan,” which is similar to the English idiom “hit two birds with one stone.” Bholika told me, “One of the best idioms about mom is: ‘Ma te ma bija badha vagda na va.’ It means something like without mom you cannot do anything. Mom is the best character in your life.”

Although ELP students came here to study, they also find time to have fun. We talked about their favorite activities both on and off campus. All of them happily mentioned the field trips they took to visit some of Pittsburgh’s landmarks. Bholika in particular enjoyed museums. She said, “I like to visit museums, because I really want to know about your culture, and from museums, I can know something about your culture.” She recently visited the Andy Warhol museum. The student from Vietnam said she liked to go to the cinema for fun. “I watch cartoon movies— especially cartoon movies, like Meet the Robinsons, Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory.”

But for all the work ELP students put in, they still feel disconnected from Chatham’s community. Some only had friends within the English Language Program; others had brief encounters with other Chatham students. Hassana mentioned, “I haven’t had any trouble with the students. They are all friendly. Because I am from Africa, they are interested in my customs.” But Abdullah told me, “The other students don’t talk with me. I guess they don’t want to lose their time.” Part of this disconnect stems from the amount of time the ELP students spend here— the student from Vietnam had only spent three or four months at Chatham.

So what can we do as fellow Chatham students to include these lively, diverse voices in our community? Start small: take time to say hello to international students! Attend events hosted by International Affairs. Even better, become a conversation partner through ELP! In the brief time I spent chatting with these students, I brushed the surface of a vast pool of fascinating experiences just waiting to be shared. I hope future ELP students will have a chance to share their perspectives with the greater Chatham community.

TEDxCMU Brought Smiles, New Ideas, and Inspiration

TEDxCMU 2017: Abdullah Almalki, Xinran (Echo) Chen, Arief Zulkifli, Marina Razgarina, Katherine Ren, Oksana Moroz, and Linh Phung

On April 1, Linh Phung, Director of the English Language Program and Pittsburgh Pathways at Chatham University, and a group of international students and language instructors attended the TEDxCMU 2017 Conference at Carnegie Mellon University. The event was entirely organized by CMU students and featured inspiring talks about artificial intelligence, data science, photography, design, and even water bottle flipping. The audience also enjoyed music and dance performances.

Michael Senatore, whose video of him flipping a water bottle, went viral. He told the story of his viral fame and his decision afterwards.

The students and faculty from Chatham walked away from the conference with broad smiles, new ideas, and inspiration. Abdullah Almalki, ELP Student, said, “I’m so inspired by them as the speeches opened many ideas and stimulated my thinking.” Abdullah was fascinated by the liveliness of the talks and found them similar to the recorded TED talks he studied in the High Intermediate Listening/Speaking class in the English Language Program.

Group selfie before the event

Marina Razgarina, ELP Lecturer, especially enjoyed talks where people spoke about their personal experiences and emotions. She thought these talks, when used in the classroom, were “more likely to “grab” students’ attention” and increase their engagement in classroom activities.

Oksana Moroz, ELP Lecturer, enjoyed the humor in many of the talks. She also thought about how to use technologies purposefully to maintain happiness amidst myriad distractions in this digital era and how to embrace both arts and sciences in her daily life. With positive experiences, everyone said they would like to go to more TED events in the future.

Life-Changing Experiences with the English Language Program

By Daniella Bastos, ELP and MA-Psychology Graduate, International Student Ambassador

Studying English at the English Language Program (ELP) at Chatham University is one of the best decisions I have made in life. In 2014, I moved to Pittsburgh because of my husband’s work. I did some research into universities in Pittsburgh, and I found Chatham University. They have an interesting Master’s program in Psychology and a great ELP. I had very smooth communication with the ELP since the first contact by e-mail. I had the best support to complete the application and a great reception to the program. The ELP team is devoted to giving the students the best resources and opportunities to study and develop their academic, personal, and professional skills. The teachers at the ELP are specialists in teaching English for non-native speakers, which means that they have specific professional qualifications and multicultural competencies.

During my English course at Chatham, I had life-changing experiences. I had amazing classmates from Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. I had teachers with international experience. I had the best support from those teachers to prepare my application to the MA-Psychology program (application letters, documents, and TOEFL). Chatham’s ELP helped me to connect and adapt to a new country in the middle of an overwhelming personal and professional transition. I made friends and I had opportunity to work and apply my new skills.

In December 2016, I completed my Master’s degree in Psychology. That was only possible due to the commitment of the ELP and Chatham University. They were able to understand the students’ limitations and strengths and give us support so that we could succeed in our studies. They promote diversity and multiculturalism.

Studying in US is a big decision as well as a big investment of time, energy, and money. It is also an experience that can change your life and your future. Choosing a school is really important in this process. After my graduation, I became an International Student Ambassador at Chatham to encourage Brazilians who want to study in the US to know this great ESL program and university. I recommend Chatham to anyone who wants to study English or earn a degree in the US.

Noor’s Art

By Marina Razgarina, ELP Lecturer

Noor showing her art

Delicate, surreal, and incredibly personal. Noor’s drawings make you reflect deeply on what it is you see in them and what is left beyond your comprehension of a mere visitor in her mysterious artistic world. Going beyond the obvious, they make you think of ideas and emotions she felt while drawing those. They make you wonder about the people and stories that left a trace in her heart and found embodiment in these incredible pieces.

Noor sharing her art in the High Intermediate Listening and Speaking class in fall 2016

Seeing her art brought me closer to understanding Noor’s life and personality. It made me see her not just as a student, but also as an incredibly talented person with her own goals, dreams, and struggles. Noor’s self-expression became her artistic aspiration. Genuine and complex emotions expressed so intricately in her drawings left me feeling sensitive and vulnerable in a whole new way. The way Noor shared herself and her world through her drawings touched my heart and made me open to deeper connections with the world and people around me. It truly was extraordinary and profound experience.

My Journey to Chatham: From ESL Teaching to International Admission

Alia Schindler, International Admission Counselor

Alia Schindler

I moved back to Pittsburgh after having lived abroad on and off for several years in Italy, Lebanon, and Malaysia. I was teaching English as a Second Language then and found a great sense of satisfaction and comfort in doing so, as it gave me the chance to work with international students on a daily basis. After having spent a good portion of my 20’s adapting to a culture foreign from my own, I felt a little out of place back in my hometown. While I was overseas, I was viewed as a foreigner, regardless of how acculturated I felt, and back home here in Pittsburgh, I longed for the faraway lands that I had grown accustomed to while overseas. I became internally international, a wanderer of sorts, always feeling a bit out of place. Thus, I feel right at home when working with international students.

It was through my undergraduate experience in Global Studies, my drive toward higher education, and my time abroad that I realized my passion for diversity and culture. I knew I wanted to work in a field that would allow me to assist students in traveling and studying abroad in pursuit of their goals.

One day, while taking a walk through Shadyside, I came upon Chatham University’s stunning campus, and I told myself at that point, “I must find a way to work here.” Fortunately, I was able to network and obtain a position teaching in Chatham’s English Language Program. I taught wonderful students from places such as Columbia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, Turkey, China, and Vietnam. It was a joy teaching them English and about Pittsburgh and American culture in general.

My passion with international education extended outside of the classroom, and I often found myself answering student questions after class relating to both their education and lives. I also found myself consistently seeking to be a part of administrative dialogues and professional groups working toward policy change. I even worked in the International Affairs office outside of my teaching hours.

A point came when I decided that I must take a leap of faith and pursue a position in higher education that would enable me to be a part of helping to enhance the overall process for international students. I branched out first by working in Chatham’s Office of Student Affairs, and it was an excellent chance for me to get to know about, and work with, the many divisions at Chatham that strive to offer the best experience possible for each and every Chatham student.

Finally, I am thrilled to have secured my current position as an International Admission Counselor at Chatham. As an International Admission Counselor, I have the opportunity to mesh my background in teaching with the administrative aspects of higher education to recruit and assist international students through their application process. I am excited to contribute to Chatham’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity. I can be reached at or 412-365-2736 or 412-400-7717.

Immerse Yourself in US Culture While Advancing Your Language Study

Immerse Yourself in US Culture While Advancing Your Language Study

Students seeking a supportive Academic English program and the opportunities of city living will love Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This private university, with an enrollment of 2,200 students, offers a safe campus with a bustling city just outside its front doors. On weekends, students can road trip to two of the county’s most renowned cultural hubs—New York City and Washington, D.C. (six and four hours away from Pittsburgh, respectively).

English Language Program

The key to the Chatham English Language Program (ELP) is the support students receive. Enthusiastic student testimonials speak to the energy and warmth of staff and participants in the ELP and the difference it makes in students’ lives.

Classes are kept small—12-14 students—and divided into five language levels. Faculty members are chosen for their exceptional teaching ability and their passion for supporting student growth.

The ELP is a pathway program to the university; students have conditional admission to degree programs and a TOEFL/IELTS waiver for those who complete the advanced level. To kick-start their degrees, students can sign up for classes in other departments, accruing credits and skills while advancing their language study.

Students interested in part-time or short programs also find connection and success at Chatham.

Student Life

 ELP students are immersed in American culture. They are housed in charming student residences with American roommates. Abundant activities and a conversation partner program help build friendships and strengthen English fluency and comfort.

Offering a great deal of events and attractions, Pittsburgh was ranked among the 50 “Best Places to Travel in 2016” by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

From the classroom to city life, studying at Chatham means living your cultural and language goals.

From Schramm’s Farm to Presbyterian Church Tour to Fallingwater

By Kate Emory, International Student Services Coordinator

Pumkin Patch
Pumkin Patch

Throughout the semester there are many opportunities for students to interact with American students and culture: on campus, in the local community, and nationally as they travel. Over the course of the Fall 2016 semester, Chatham students have participated in athletic activities, volunteered at local community organizations, and traveled to Chicago, Seattle, New York, and Washington DC.

The Office of International Affairs has organized local events,  such as a church tour the Presbyterian Church in East Liberty and the Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh in the Hill District, and a day trip to Fallingwater and Ohio Pyle State Park. Sharla Yates, an instructor in the English Language Program, also organized a visit to Schramm’s Farm in Harrison City PA for the students in the US Culture  class.

At Schramm’s Farm students were able to experience classic “fall farm festival” atmosphere, including walking through a pumpkin patch, drinking fresh apple cider, exploring a corn maze, and taking a hay ride. Students were able to pick a pumpkin, which they then used to carve Jack O’ Lanterns in the US Culture class.  Students also participated in the Chatham Harvest Fun Fest on the quad and experienced American autumn activities with their classmates and roommates.

Church tour
Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh

The church tour of East Liberty’s Presbyterian Church allowed students to climb the steeple to the top and learn about the buildings interesting history. Later in the semester students were invited to the Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh to experience a Baptist choir and learn about the African American experience in Pittsburgh.


Fallingwater, a national historic landmark, is considered the crowning achievement of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We toured the house and learned about the family who lived there, as well as about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. After the tour, we visited Ohio Pyle State Park, which, despite the name, is still in Pennsylvania. There students explored the small town, ate American BBQ, and began a hike along the Youghiogheny River. Some students expressed relief to experience a “refreshing” break from the rigors of the classroom and explore the state park.

Students enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday November 16th at with hundreds of Chatham’s students, faculty, and staff. There they feasted on turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. During the Thanksgiving holiday, many students will travel on their own to experience other American cities: Washington DC, New York, Chicago, while others will be visiting family or going to their roommate’s home.

Students are encouraged to let OIA know of their interests to assist us in planning these events and trips. Pittsburgh has much to offer students, and we look forward to introducing students to interesting facets of American and local culture.


International Students’ FAQs

By Kate Emory, International Student Services Coordinator

Throughout the semester, international students have questions regarding what activities they can, and cannot do, in regards to remaining “in-status”. It is important to check with OIA if you are unsure if something will affect your immigration status or not. It is always better to ask, than to find out later that you are out of status! Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q: Can I get a Social Security Number?

A: Only those with employment are eligible for a social security number. International students have limited opportunities for employment, and should check with OIA. To receive a SSN, you must submit proof of immigration status, job offer, and copies of your passport and I-94 to the Social Security Office. If you are applying for a driver’s license but do not have an SSN, you can get a letter from the Social Security Office stating that you are not eligible for the social security number.

Q: I am getting a low-grade in my class, can I withdraw from the class?

A: F-1 students must be enrolled as full-time students to maintain their immigration status. If you will go below full-time status, you must check with OIA first. If you drop below full-time enrollment without immigration authorization, your student status could be terminated. Full time for undergraduate and ELP students is 12-credits a semester; for graduate students it is 9-credits a semester.

Q: I want to travel during Winter break! Can I go outside of the US?

A: Yes. During University breaks, students may travel. Make sure you stop by OIA to get a travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 before you leave the US. An email will go out in December with set times for travel signatures.

Q: I want to get a part-time job in Squirrel Hill, can I?

A: No. If you have an F-1 or J-1 student visa, you must follow the regulations of your visa. Employment must be authorized by either OIA (on campus employment, CPT) or by USCIS (OPT, Economic hardship). Those who work without authorization may have their student status terminated.