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Sample Funded Projects

Ready for the World regularly provides funding for special projects that help promote international and intercultural awareness. Below are examples of projects that have been funded:

   Student Club Hosts Russian Immersion Weekend 

In early April 2018, three UT faculty members who teach Russian and the Russian Language and Culture Club hosted 25 students and alumni for a Russian immersion weekend in Townsend, Tennessee.

Professors Stephen Blackwell, Natalia Pervukhin, and Masha Kamyshkova coordinated the events and the preparation of traditional Russian meals.

Pervukhin arranged for the event’s guest lecturer, Alexandra Raskina, who spoke about her childhood in Soviet Russia. Raskina is an adjunct lecturer at Tulane University, where she teaches Russian literature.

“She gave her presentation in Russian and helped with translation if she noticed

that there was some confusion,” said Kaityn Bocik, cultural events coordinator for the Russian Language and Culture Club. “The lecture was very informative and provided a one-on-one perspective about Russian and Soviet culture all while learning the Russian language.”

Because the event took place over Easter weekend, Pervukhin gave a lecture on Russian Easter to explain the difference between Russian Orthodox and American Easter.

Throughout the weekend, participants engaged in conversations about Russian culture, politics, and art and music.

“The retreat has contributed to further language and cultural understanding as well as a significant amount of exposure to Russian activities that we otherwise would not be able to have,” said Bocik. “The combination of food, movies, lectures, crafts, and activities was an informative and fun way to not only learn about but experience the Russian culture.”

McClung Museum Brings Northwest Coast Art to Knoxville Community

The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture used funding from Ready for the World to bring Northwest Coast Art: A Community of Tradition to UT from September 8, 2017, to March 4, 2018.

More than 26,000 guests viewed the exhibit, which featured more than 60 objects representing traditional and modern forms of cultural expression including model totem poles, silver bracelets, and bentwood boxes. All objects were created for different purposes—utilitarian, decorative, or ceremonial.

“Northwest Coast art is visually exciting,” said Jefferson Chapman, director of the McClung Museum. “The subject fits well into our mission of developing an awareness and appreciation of other cultures.”

Gerald Schroedl, professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, said while the culture of southeastern Native Americans is well known in this area, there are fewer opportunities to learn about other American Indian cultures.

“Northwest Coast cultures continue to examine the past, to interpret and reinterpret their beliefs and vision of the future, to grow, and to change,” said Schroedl. “Contemporary Northwest Coast artists acknowledge and pay tribute to the history of their artistic tradition and its artists while creating new visions of that art in the present. They do this in a context that connects them to their traditional cultures as practiced today and the communities in which they live; that connects them to government, corporate, and institutional patrons; and that shares their craftsmanship, artistic skill, and cultural vision with people all over the world—just like it was shared with those who visited the exhibit at the McClung.”

Several programs were held in conjunction with the exhibition:

  • Opening reception (September 7; 103 attendees)
  • “Listening for the Stories: Indigenous Sovereignties and Self-Representation in a Museum Space,” lecture by Lisa King (September 12; 40 attendees)
  • Family Fun Day: “Northwest Coast Art” (September 16; 135 attendees)
  • Stroller Tour: “Toddlers and Totems” (September 18, 40 attendees)
  • Homeschool Program: “Northwest Coast Art” (October 2; 25 attendees)
  • Family Fun Day: “Celebrate Native American Heritage” (November 11; 249
  • attendees)

The exhibition was covered by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Greeneville Sun, and the Daily Beacon.

Faculty Member Lays Groundwork for New Advertising Abroad Course in Rome

Sally McMillan, professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations, traveled to Rome, Italy, for six days in March 2018 to lay the groundwork for a new study abroad advertising course.

The course, Advertising 480, Advertising Issues, will examine the role of advertising in society and controversies surrounding economic, social, cultural, and ethical aspects of advertising with a focus on Rome and Europe more broadly. The course is planned for mini-term 2019. The long-term goal is to create a recurring advertising course program in Rome.

McMillan spoke with current UT and University of Arkansas students studying at the Rome Center affiliated with the University of Arkansas and located just minutes from the Vatican, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon.

McMillan also visited with three other companies that provide study abroad options for students in Rome: IES, SAI, and ISA. Additionally, she looked for ways to provide students with the opportunity to interact with advertising and marketing communication professionals through guest lectures and field trips in Rome.

“I wanted to help set up a program that would be sustainable,” said McMillan. “This course will be taught in a place where students could have a great advertising learning experience and where we might be able to set up a regular pattern of going every year or two so that advertising students could start planning to build a study abroad experience into their curriculum early on.”

Faculty Member Visits Chile to Improve Study Abroad

Lisa Y. F. Parker, assistant director of the Language and World Business program in the Department of Modern Foreign Language and Literatures, spent six days last month in Chile checking up on aspects of current study abroad programs and discovering ways to improve them.

She visited two universities, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) Casa Central and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, where UT students take courses in English and Spanish as part of their study abroad programs. She observed classes and met with a host family to discuss student life and cultural involvement.

Parker also visited three service learning organizations where UT study abroad students engage in community and civic service. Those organizations were A Public Medial Clinic, Acción Emprendedora and Instituto Chileno Norteamericano.

She met with 13 students currently taking classes and doing service-learning projects in Chile. She talked to them about how they are adjusting and handling challenges while abroad.

Parker also visited five Chilean sites where UT business students engage in internships: Recyclá (a nonprofit foundation), Keteka (a community sustainable tourism agency); Alta Dirección (a financial and investments a private company), South Bridge Access (a service and retail company), and Omega Plastics DVP (a global plastics manufacturer with a manufacturing plant in Knoxville). Omega Plastics DVP offers students international internships and possible future employment in the US when they finish.

She received a $536 grant from UT’s Ready for the World initiative, along with additional funding from the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Center for International Education.

Faculty Member Visits Costa Rica to Establish New Spanish Course

Lisa Y. F. Parker, assistant director of the Language and the World Business program in the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, spent seven days in June in Costa Rica checking on current study abroad programs and laying the groundwork for a new service-learning course.

She talked with International Study Abroad officials about Spanish 495, a new course that will allow students to better understand culture through service in a Hispanic country.

She visited the University of Veritas, which is a host university for some of our study abroad students. She also met with a host family and visited with four students currently doing service-learning projects in Costa Rica.

At the Jade Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the archaeological heritage of the region and houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts in the world, Parker met with the main anthropologist about a possible future research opportunity for one of the current service-learning students.

Parker said the new service-learning course will open similar doors: “Students will have the opportunity to make connections that will open future research opportunities for them such as grad school or Fulbright grants.”

She also met with managers at DeRoyal Cientifica, which manufactures key components of temperature monitoring devices for DeRoyal Industries, a healthcare product corporation that started in Knoxville.

“A chance to have our students participate in international internships with a company we already partner with in the US opens the opportunity for future employment for our students, as well,” she said.

Social Work Plan Study Abroad Program in Nicaragua

Two College of Social Work faculty members traveled to Nicaragua in June 2017 to lay the groundwork for a faculty-led study abroad program and social work field placements, as well as faculty- or student-led research.

Mary Held and Lisa Reyes Mason, both assistant professors, met with the local agency Comunidad Connect to begin designing a program that will be offered before or during Summer 2018.

In Los Robles, Jinotega, they met with indigenous community leaders to understand health needs. They made home visits and checked in with a local health clinic. In Granada, they met with two enterprises to learn about socially responsible business practices. They also met with local university social work faculty.

“We determined that Comunidad Connect is an appropriate, experienced, and valuable potential partner for the University of Tennessee,” the faculty wrote. “The agency and its staff embody social work values of engagement, participation, empowerment, community building, and self-determination.”


UTIA Staff Plan Guatemala Trip

Two staff members from the Office of International Programs in the UT Institute of Agriculture traveled to Guatemala June 4–9, to lay groundwork for a spring break study abroad program that will take place in March 2018.

David Ader, postdoctoral program manager, and Amanda Kaeser, postdoctoral program associate, met with various organizational partners to plan visits that will help students learn about the culture and agricultural experiences in a different country through an assortment of service projects.
Among the sites they visited and plan to incorporate into the study abroad trip:

    • The Barbara Ford Center for Peace in Santa Cruz del Quiche, a nonprofit organization involved in a variety of projects dealing with agriculture, natural resources, and social needs. Students will spend two nights here while discussing social changes in the highlands of Guatemala with Mayan leaders.
    • The ARCAS Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Association, which receives 300 to 600 animals of more than 40 species each year and is also involved in a variety of environmental efforts. Students may help with mangrove reforestation research or beach cleanup.
    • The Kemajackel Women’s group in Panjachel, a women’s cooperative that produces cloth, clothing, and other woven items. The students will spend a day here learning more about the Mayan culture and the arts of natural dyeing and weaving with forest resources.
    • Health Talents International Clinic in Ezell, where students will be helping with community outreach activities to improve health, nutrition, and income. Students may help present workshops on tilapia pond creation, composting, and oyster mushroom cultivation.


McClung Museum Hosts Divine Felines Exhibit and Related Programs

The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture hosted the exhibition Divine Felines: Ancient Cats of Egypt from February 3 to May 7, 2017. With support from Ready for the World, the exhibition was able to travel from the Brooklyn Museum in New York City to the UT campus. Two guest lecturers, Bob Brier and Julie Albright, were featured during the course of the exhibit. Brier, one of the world’s foremost experts on mummies and Egyptology, is known as “Mr. Mummy.” He worked with Ronald Wade of the Maryland State Anatomy Board in 1994 to become the first people in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style, using ancient tools and materials. Albright, who lectured on the behavior of cats, is the PetSafe Chair of Small Animal Behavioral Research at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, where she conducts research into the causes and best treatments for problem behaviors in companion animals. The museum also offered a variety of programs related to the exhibit, such as Family Fun Days (“Purrs from the Past” and “To Kitties’ Health”) and a Stroller Tour (“Kitties and Toddlers”). During the exhibition, 12,314 guests toured the museum and attended the events. The exhibition also received major coverage from various media outlets including the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Greeneville Sun, the Newport Plain Talk, the Daily Post-Athenian, and VisitKnoxville.


UT’s Percussion Studies Host Two Noted Musicians

UT’s Percussion Studies program raised awareness of different musical cultures through rehearsals, classes, and a final concert taught by guest artists Kendall Williams and Mike Mixtacki in April 2017. Students in the Steel Band rehearsed with Williams, an established steel pan expert, director, and emerging composer. The rehearsals took place in a traditional Trinidadian “panyard” fashion, in which two new tunes were taught through improvisation and listening instead of reading music. In addition to rehearsing, Williams taught the origins of the steel orchestra. The rehearsals culminated with the UT Steel Band performing “Scene,” Williams’ calypso arrangement of a popular song one might hear on the radio in Trinidad and Tobago. Mixtacki traveled from San Antonio, Texas, to teach the UT World Percussion Ensemble about various world instruments, genres, and techniques, focusing mainly on complex songs and rhythmic patterns of Afro-Cuban origin. In addition to rehearsals, Mixtacki offered outside classes that focused on the technique one needs to master these Afro-Cuban instruments. “In all these genres, we discovered that this music was not learned in schools as a means of study or even competition for the elite. It is simply a way of life for people in the culture, as it is passed down traditionally for most to learn at a young age,” the organizers wrote. “We believe these events benefited all parties involved—both students and community members.”


Marco Institute Symposium Features Keynote by British Columbian Professor

Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies hosted Paul Dutton, professor of history at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, as the keynote lecture of its March 2017 Symposium on Carolingian Experiments. Dutton’s talk, “Four Startling Carolingian Experiments with Family,” centered on people in Charlemagne’s empire experimented with the institution of the family in order to shape their world socially, politically, and religiously in a new imperial framework. The event drew about 100 attendees, including many students and several scholars from the area, namely Professors Susan Laningham of Tennessee Tech, Laura Hohman of Trevecca Nazarene University, and Jared Wielfaert of Lee University, on the family dynamic in Charlemagne’s empire


UT Lispector Festival

The Lispector Festival, held October 19–21, 2016, included a film showing, keynote lecture, art show, and translation workshop along with book clubs at UT and reading groups around Knox County libraries and schools. The festival used Clarice Lispector’s art and literature to provide perspective on the significance of her work within Brazilian culture and how her influence is growing in American literary circles. An internationally acclaimed author known for her innovative novels and short stories, Lispector has been called “the most important Jewish writer since Kafka” and compared with such internationally renowned writers as Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, and Anton Chekhov. Ready for the World funding helped the festival organizers buy books, refreshments, lunch, T-shirts, and prizes. It also paid for space for an art show exhibit and travel expenses for the keynote speaker, Katrina Dodson. Dodson, who has a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, is the translator of Lispector’s The Complete Stories. Her writing and translations have appeared in a number of publications. Around 200 undergraduates attended the events, and another 35 people from UT and the greater community participated in reading groups and other activities.


Cuban Scholar Visits Cuba 2017

Zuleicia Romay, director of the Instituto del Libro Cubano (Cuban Book Institute) spent a week at UT in April 2017 to interact with students interested in Cuba. Romany is the author of three books about history, slavery, and race in Cuba. While she was here, she presented a keynote address titled “New and Recurring Perspectives: Cuba’s Debate on Race and Identity.” It was presented in Spanish with English interpretation. Zuleicia met with UT Latin American and Caribbean Studies faculty; worked with three Spanish graduate students on their dissertations about Cuba; visited with students in two classes, Latinos in the US and Introduction to Hispanic Studies; and spoke with the first group of UT study abroad students going to Cuba. “Her executive position has allowed her great familiarity with Cuba’s cultural and ideological structure, making her a very important source of inside information,” said Dawn Duke, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese. “Zuleica’s recently published scholarship challenges the state and confronts revolutionary ideals as falling short for certain social subjects, such as women and AfroCubans.”


French Connections 2017

The third annual French Connections Week took place the last week of March 2017. Hosted by Pi Delta Phi, the event was the largest celebration of French and Francophone culture on campus to date, reaching nearly 300 students, faculty, and community members as well as hundreds of others who wandered by on Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway. Each event was centered around some aspect of French culture—cuisine, art, geography, work life, film, and more. The funding from the Ready for the World grant helped purchase prizes, stickers, and T-shirts, which drew in a wider audience and enhanced interaction with participants. The week included a A Taste of France, which featured a French cheese sampling booth on Pedestrian Walkway; Monde du Travail, which brought professionals from various fields to UT to talk about their French connections; World Trivia Night, which brought together students from the entire Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures for a friendly competition; screening of the film Les Visiteurs with a meal of French cuisine; Coffee and Canvas, which led participants in creating an impressionist painting of a campus; and a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art guided by a French-speaking docent.


Hunter Makes Pre-Program Visits to Dublin and Belfast

Sally B. Hunter, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies, went to Ireland in March 2017 to visit Dublin and Belfast to lay the groundwork for a custom faculty-led study abroad program to debut in June 2018. She examined classroom and housing space, as well as the city environment, to find places that would be safe and educationally beneficial for students to visit. Hunter determined it would be good for students to spend time in both cities while studying the 30-year political conflict between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, sometimes called the Troubles. Specifically, students will be looking at the short-and long-term effects on children and youth who lived through the conflict.  “Because the Troubles are now considered by scholars to be an ethnopolitical conflict success story, UT students will be able to learn about the conflict itself as well as the intricacies involved with living in a post-conflict divided society,” Hunter said. “I am thinking that we will spend the first week of the course in Belfast, immersed in the culture as we begin to learn about the conflict. Then the next two weeks of the course will be based in Dublin.”


Faculty Member Visits Bergen, Oslo and London


Micheline van Riemsdijk, an associate professor of geography, spent part of the summer of 2016 on a study abroad planning trip to Bergen and Oslo, Norway, and London which was made possible by a Ready for the World grant. The objective of the trip was to lay the groundwork for a study abroad program called The Age of Migration. The program will allow students interested in geography to experience a variety of guided tours of Oslo and London’s geography and relevant geographical museums in both cities. As a result of the trip, Riemsdijk has chosen to exclude Bergen from the 2017 study abroad program due to logistical difficulties. Students who participate in the study abroad program will better understand the impact of world history, multicultural influences, and immigration on international geography. The visit allowed Riemsdijk to evaluate the educational value of these destinations, teaching and residential space, logistical needs, and enhance intercultural undergraduate curriculum for 2017.


Faculty Members Visit Cuba


Buildings in Cuba

Faculty member Liz Teston from the College of Architecture and Design returned June 4, 2016, from a five-day planning trip to Havana, Cuba, that was made possible by a Ready for the World grant. The objective of the trip was to develop a new study abroad program called Systems of Exchange/Havana for the upcoming May mini-term. The opportunity will allow students interested in architecture to observe and analyze unique urban conditions in Cuba. As a result, students will understand the impact of world geography, global economics, and international politics on Cuban history, architecture, and design. The visit allowed Teston to evaluate teaching space, residential space, and other logistic needs related to executing the 2017 course with fellow faculty member Jennifer Akerman.


Native American Student Association Educates Community through Sport

Native American Stickball GameIn April 2016, students in the Native American Student Association (NASA) hosted a Native American stickball exhibition to showcase Native American culture while engaging others. Stickball is a traditional Native American activity used to resolve conflict among conflicting tribes. Using support from a Ready for the World grant, NASA members were successful in hosting the event, sharing Native American traditions, and garnering attention on the issues that Native Americans face.

French Connections Celebrates Culture


Students at French ConnectionsDuring the last week of March 2016, Pi Delta Phi hosted UT’s second annual French Connections event. The week-long celebration of French and Francophone cultures across campus and in the Knoxville community brought together many groups on campus including those interested in art, cuisine, music, and engineering. Through the funding received from Ready for the World, the organization was able to better advertise through fliers, T-shirts, and banners, which allowed them to reach a wider, more diverse audience. The funds also allowed the group to provide interactive activities to participants, which resulted in increased student participation and engagement.

Embodying Enlightenment: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas

In September 2015, UT’s McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture hosted a group of Tibetan monks from the Mystical Arts of Tibet to supplement the museum’s special exhibition Embodying Enlightenment: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas. The monks—whose visit was made possible by a Ready for the World grant—performed an intricate sand mandala painting, complete with opening and closing ceremonies. During the week of September 21, 2016, while this activity occurred, museum attendance soared to 3,000, which is approximately four times the average visitor attendance for a one-week period. In addition, the museum’s department of academic programs coordinated gallery tours of the Embodying Enlightenment exhibition for more than 400 UT students.