Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — Eighteen college students from South America are learning about American culture and developing their leadership skills in a month-long program hosted by UT’s English Language Institute (ELI).

Students from Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela are in Knoxville as part of a program called “Study of the United States Institutes for Foreign Leaders.” ELI received a grant of more than $300,000 to host the program, which is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

A group of Brazilian undergraduate students also participated in the program earlier this year.

“The students who participate in this program are outstanding,” said Jim Hamrick, ELI director. “They are outstanding academically and they have outstanding leadership potential. We are glad to have them on campus and introduce them to UT faculty, staff and the East Tennessee community.”

The students are learning how values, events and conflicts of the past have shaped American culture, politics and society. The students also are developing leadership skills and participating community service activities.

The students will be on the UT campus through Aug. 4 before taking a study tour that includes visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C.

UT faculty and staff involved with the program include Ron Foresta, geography; Jon Shefner, sociology; Cheryl Barksdale, Center for Executive Education; Marva Rudolph, Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) director; Jenny Richter, OED associate director; and Tony Moses and Anwar Accawi of ELI. Nine UT students and staff members are serving as hosts and also helping acclimate the students.

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.


Jim Hamrick, ELI director, (865) 974-3404, jhamric1@utk.edu

Moema Furtado, program coordinator, mfurtado@utk.edu