By Leslie Corn

Cultural Component | #CENETJ1

KNOXVILLE, TN– On June 21, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) hosted a one-day campus visit for CENET’s Gatlinburg-based Work and Travel students.The participants were given a university tour and granted access to the on-campus museums and exhibits. In addition, UTK faculty members provided the participants with the following academic lecture series: An Immigrant’s Perspective of the U.S. Government, Choosing an Applying to a Graduate Degree Program, and The 2016 Presidential Race.

The event was coordinated between CENET and Dr. Jim Hamrick, Director of the English Language Institute (ELI). Dr. Hamrick has been involved in ESL/EFL for more than thirty years. He has taught English in Japan and China and has trained teachers in Poland and Saudi Arabia. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, a master’s from Georgetown University, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

I’ve been aware of the short-term, J-1 participants in the local resort/tourism sector—but I’ve never had a chance to meet many of them or learn how their experiences are arranged. Hosting the CENET group gave me an opportunity to learn more about this population of students– and I think it’s a good way for our campus to reach out to the broader international community in our area.

-Dr. Jim Hamrick

Anwar Accawi presented An Immigrant’s Perspective of the U.S. Government. Mr. Accawi is an ELI instructor emeritus who has been an ESL teacher for thirty-two years. He has taught in the U.S. and in Lebanon at the National Evangelical Institute, Sidoon High School, and the American University of Beirut before coming to UTK in 1979. Mr. Accawi is a published writer whose work has appeared in books, literary anthologies, reviews, and college textbooks in the U.S. and abroad.

I have had the pleasure of addressing many groups before, but this particular one stands out in my mind because every single young man and woman impressed me with their attentiveness, open-mindedness, and desire to learn! It was a treat for me to be in the presence of such vitality and energy.

-Anwar Accawi

Yvonne Kilpatrick, Assistant Dean and Director of the Office of Graduate Admissions, presented Choosing and Applying to a Graduate Degree Program. Ms. Kilpatrick earned her bachelor’s degree from Freed-Hardeman University and her MBA from UT Chattanooga. Currently, she is in her dissertation phase of the Doctor of Education degree in learning and leadership at UT Chattanooga.

We had the exciting opportunity to provide participants of the Work and Travel program with valuable information about the process of applying to graduate school. Many fields are now requiring graduate credentials, so it is important for undergraduate students to consider pursuing graduate education. It was an honor to speak with these individuals who expressed such a strong passion and interest in learning.

-Savannah Ladage, Office of Graduate Admissions

The final lecture, The 2016 Presidential Race, was presented by Dr. Andy Ray, International Student Recruiter. Prior to his role at UTK, Dr. Ray served as in the Peace Corps. in Costa Rica. Dr. Ray has earned graduate and post-graduate degrees in Spanish Language and Literature.

Dr. Ray’s presentation provided a general overview of the U.S. election process, followed by a mock election.

Personally, I thought the students were fantastic! They had great questions and they weren’t shy to think collaboratively. Plus, the CENET students were fun! Although brief, it was a wonderful experience that did what so many nations yearn to do: help their citizens learn new cultures and perspectives in a peaceful and respectful manner.

-Dr. Andy Ray

Several CENET participants shared their feedback about UTK visit:

Nathaneal, Jamaica

It was a great privilege for me to visit the University of Tennessee. My favorite part of the experience was the tour of the McLung Museum where they have extraordinary exhibitions on American, Egyptian and Chinese history. I liked the presentations, especially the one that was given by Anwar Accawi, where he gave a vivid description of the United States government from the eyes of an immigrant. In his presentation, he explained how the U.S. government differs from the governments of other countries, including my home country.

I also enjoyed the lunch we had together in the I-house Great House. Thank you CENET for organizing this trip. This is an experience that will be well remembered for years to come.

Xian, China

It’s truly a wonderful experience to visit the Tennessee University. My favorite part was the presentation about the 2016 presidential race. The U.S. university setting is different from the universities in China. Tennessee University has many sports halls—it’s really great. I enjoyed the visit!

Khushal, Afghanistan, 

My favourite part of the experience was to see University of Tennessee and their excellent professors and doctors, that I haven’t seen up to now in my all academic life. I became in love with their speech and their lectures, and that’s why I recorded some of their lectures on my iPhone.

In the event, all things were  new and amazing for me, and it’s attracted me to learn so many things.I learned too many good things, but one thing that I will never forget is the how good the teachers are with their students– like the presentation of sir Anwar Accawi and the others.

I see a lot of differences between the universities of my own country and USA. To compare the universities of Afghanistan and USA, unfortunately Afghanistan universities are very backwards, not developed, not improved like the universities of USA( Tennessee). If I find a chance to take my master degree and phd degree in the USA, I will know how from everything that I learned here.  I like the event from the start point up to the ending point.

Jundi, China

My favorite part was the presentation about the 2016 presidential race. I learned about voting. The teacher, Andy Ray, is funny and amazing. He has been to China. He knows a lot about China. Thank you so much for taking us to the University of Tennessee

Berk, Turkey

I enjoyed the presentation by Anwar Accawi on “an immigrant’s perspective of the U.S. government.” I also increased my network at the event.

Desiann, Jamaica

My favourite part of experience was visiting the Museum of Natural History! From the lectures, I learned this: do not try to fit into a tertiary institution, let it fit you. I also noticed the U.S. university setting is huge!

Mingming, China

I enjoyed lunch together and the presentations. UT is very beautiful and I learned some views of the professors about current events. I learned that the American university is not a copy, but a reaction of the European institution. It also seemed U.S. universities give more space to students.

Anastasiia, Ukraine

Thank you for great opportunity of visiting the University of Tennessee. I enjoyed all part of this experience, but the most remarkable were meetings with Anwar Accawi about U.S. government and with Andy Ray about presidential race in U.S. I learned a lot of new different things, especially about university programs for immigrants from Yvonne Kilpatrick. This experience was really interesting and exciting, thank you so much!

Special thanks to the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the incredible faculty and staff members who took part in this special cultural activity. 

CENET strives to inspire a safer, more prosperous and compassionate world through international education and cultural exploration.For more news and updates about CENET, please visit our Facebook Page.



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