Four students whose homelands are far from the Tennessee Valley participated in August commencement exercises at McKenzie Arena. Bernardo Cedano from Colombia earned a degree in engineering; Olga Kostenko from Ukraine received a master’s in psychology; Heesung Shin from South Korea received a master’s in accountancy and Yoon-ji Lee of South Korea graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biology. All of them had been participants in the English as a Second Language (ESL) Institute at UTC and passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), making them eligible for University study.
“Primarily, students want to learn English for academic study at an American university,” said Jane Womack, Director of the ESL Institute. “Students also want to learn English for personal and professional reasons.”
Since 1995, 405 students from 45 countries have participated in the ESL Institute.
“Many of our students, once they pass the TOEFL, enroll at UTC,” said Jane Womack, Director of the ESL Institute. “Several have graduated. We have three students starting fall semester at UTC, having just passed the TOEFL.”
There were 30 students on the roll in summer semester for the 10-week ESL Summer Institute. Their countries of origin are Colombia, France, Honduras, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea S., Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela. They are diligent in the classroom, but the ESL Institute offers much more. Students experienced a cultural sampling with field trips to Chickamauga Battlefield, CNN in Atlanta, Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA, and Red Clay Park near Cleveland. A guest speaker from TVA addressed the group and they enjoyed a visit to the Signal Mountain Playhouse to see Oklahoma.
“It’s important for the students to learn about our culture just as it’s important for us to learn about theirs–to broaden minds, to build relationships, to understand people better, to be more tolerant of others, to breakdown stereotypes. One purpose is, of course, to teach English. Another important purpose is to give them cultural experiences that will help them understand Americans in this part of the country,” Womack said.
Students who attended the summer ESL Institute.