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KNOXVILLE—When Hajie Sesay left Sierra Leone as a child, he left with lasting memories of an impoverished, war-torn Africa that inspired him to come to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to study political science and Africana studies.

Sesay, now a junior planning to pursue a career in international relations, spent last spring studying in Dakar, Senegal. He lived with a host family and took classes in English, French, and Wolof, the spoken language in Dakar. He also volunteered with an organization that seeks to promote leadership among young Senegalese women.

As a result of his experiences in Senegal, seeing how young people there have so little, yet remain hopeful, Sesay was reassured that Africa is exactly where he wants to be in the future. He said he wants to help empower these youth who have so much potential.

Since returning to campus, Sesay has begun working as a peer adviser with UT’s Programs Abroad Office (PAO) to help other UT students plan study abroad experiences.

Sesay and other peer advisers will be on hand on Wednesday, September 28, to share their experiences with interested students at the Fall 2011 Study Abroad Fair. The fair will be held from 10:00 to 3:00 in the University Center Ballroom.

At the fair, students can find information about semester, academic year, summer, and mini-term programs. They also can explore summer internship options, meet students who have studied abroad and international students from around the world, and speak with UT faculty leading summer and mini-term programs abroad.

There will be information on scholarships and financial aid, and representatives from advising centers will be on hand to answer questions about studying abroad, building a résumé, and experiencing a world of opportunity.

Attendees also will be able to vote for their top two photos from the finalists of the PAO annual photo contest which will be displayed at the study abroad fair. The photo contest is currently open for submissions ( Submissions will close on Friday, September 16, and voting will end on September 28.

Students with an interest in study abroad opportunities can stop by the Programs Abroad Office to talk with Sesay and other peer advisers who have recently returned from their own adventures abroad. Peer advisers are on hand at the PAO Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and hold general informational meetings at 2:00 p.m. every weekday during the academic year.

Here’s a look at the newest class of PAO peer advisers:

•Cory Harris studied abroad in Rangsit, Thailand, in spring 2011. He is a hotel, restaurant, and tourism management major who aspires to be the director of a major university’s programs abroad office. Harris said his semester in Asia really helped him see a different view of the world and gave him the opportunity to travel to six other countries.

•Megan Eileen Nixon is a senior studying both accounting and French who studied abroad in the spring of 2011 in Bordeaux, France. She was directly enrolled in Bordeaux Ecole de Management along with approximately 200 other exchange students from all over the world.

•Clay Scandlyn is a double major in accounting and finance with a minor in political science and a concentration in international business. He studied at the City University of Hong Kong in the spring of 2011 in Hong Kong, China, where he took several international business courses as well as an introductory Mandarin course and traveled to several different locations in East Asia.

•Maggie McCluney is a senior with a Spanish language and world business major. She studied in Seville, Spain, during the spring 2011 semester, during which she was able to travel around the country, as well as to Switzerland, Portugal, and Morocco.

•Dimi Venkov is a senior majoring in theater. He studied drama on exchange in Manchester, England, for the 2009-2010 academic year, basking in the artistic inspiration of Shakespeare, Coward, and Stoppard.

•Madeline Brown spent her spring 2011 semester abroad in Utrecht, Netherlands. She was a part of the European Culture and European Journalism program at Hogeschool Utrecht where she took courses with Dutch and other international students. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2012 with a degree in journalism and electronic media.

C O N T A C T :

Stephanie Dixon (865-974-2125,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,