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KNOXVILLE — A group of college students from Brazil is coming to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to experience and learn about American culture.

UT’s English Language Institute is hosting 18 students from Jan. 26 to Feb. 29. In between classes in Knoxville, the students will take tours to Chattanooga, Atlanta, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, D.C.

The English Language Institute (ELI), which began in 1978, is a part of UT’s University Outreach and Continuing Education division. ELI offers programs to students and professionals to help improve their English and teach them about American life. Many students are sent to the U.S. by their employers to learn to speak English more proficiently. Other students are trying to improve their English before enrolling in an American university.

The Brazilian visit is a special program, emphasizing U.S. culture instead of learning English. ELI won a grant worth more than $300,000 to host students through a program called “Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders.” The program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

More than 1,000 Brazilian students applied for the visit. Another group of students from Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela will attend a similar program at ELI this summer.

“This is an extraordinary group of students that has been chosen for this program. ELI’s faculty and staff are excited about working with them, and we are just as excited about the contributions they’ll be making to the life of our campus,” said ELI director Jim Hamrick.

The Brazilian students will learn about how values, events and conflicts of the past have shaped American culture, politics and society. They will participate in community service projects and meet with UT students. Their field trips will include visits to the Tennessee Aquarium, Chickamauga Battleground, CNN, Museum of Appalachia, the Smokies, Cherokee reservation and Monticello.

Several UT faculty and staff will help teach the classes. They are Todd Diacon, vice provost; Ron Foresta, geography professor; Marva Rudolph, Office of Equity and Diversity director; Jenny Richter, OED associate director; Lennisa Mostella, OED diversity trainer, and George Hoemann, assistant dean of distance education and independent study, a department within University Outreach and Continuing Education.

For more information about ELI, go to


Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,

Darrin Devault, University Outreach and Continuing Education, (865) 974-0270,