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Mary Papke says "Get Ready!"At UT Knoxville’s Ready for the World (RFTW) international and intercultural initiative, we have been working hard to find exciting ways to boost global knowledge and awareness on campus. We’ve got a great lineup of events, films, symposia and lectures this semester. Many of them will focus on a topic that has both astonished and horrified society–children forced to become soldiers.

As freshmen arrived on campus this semester, they (hopefully) came prepared to discuss this year’s Life of the Mind book selection, Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The book is Beah’s eye-opening account of getting caught up in–and then escaping–the civil war that has engulfed his homeland of Sierre Leone.

Beah will visit UT Knoxville on Oct. 17 with Alusine Kamara, former director of a child soldier rehabilitation center in Sierra Leone, where Beah was sent. A discussion and book signing will take place at 1:30 p.m. in the Cox Auditorium. Beah and Kamara are both on the board of advisers of UT Knoxville’s Center for the Study of Youth & Political Violence. Next month’s event will be their second appearance together on the campus.

We’ve also put together a film series that looks at the war experiences of children from many times and places. For a complete schedule, pick up a Ready for the World passport or keep an eye on the campus calendar.

A few other special events I’d like to mention:

This Saturday, the Knoxville campus will hold the world premiere of "APPALACHIA: A History of Mountains and People," a four-part documentary series narrated by Sissy Spacek and featuring several current and former UT faculty members. Although the world premiere is already booked, you can see this spectacular film at a second showing from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the University Center.

The film is free. To sign up, go to Complimentary parking will be available in the UC Parking Garage.

And if you haven’t yet visited the Ready for the World Café, you’re in for a treat. The café is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the University Center Hermitage Room. The international buffet is run by students in the advanced food production and service management class. The cost is $10 to eat in the dining room, and $8.50 to get a box of food to carry out.

As the semester progresses, I encourage you to take advantage of all that RFTW has to offer. Keep an eye on for upcoming events and programs.