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Twelve faculty and staff members from China are participating in a short-term language and culture program at the English Language Institute (ELI) at UT Knoxville.

The group from Sichuan University of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, arrived at UT on June 7 and will stay on campus through June 22.

The members spend weekday mornings participating in an English language course taught by ELI and other UT faculty.

“None of this group has traveled to the United States before, so this is UT’s chance to make a positive first impression of both Tennessee and the U.S.,” said Dr. Jim Hamrick, ELI director. “And this group seems to be very focused on English language study and making the most of their experience here.”

Also while in Knoxville, the group will visit area attractions such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Museum of Appalachia, Tennessee Smokies professional baseball, and Knoxville Museum of Art, and take day trips to Nashville and Chattanooga.

UT and Sichuan signed a linkage agreement in November 2004 to promote the exchange of students, the exchange of faculty members, and collaboration on research.

Last summer, a group of 29 undergraduate students from Sichuan participated in a similar program at ELI.

ELI, which began in 1978, is a part of UT’s Division of University Outreach & Continuing Education. 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.