SUSI student Merili Ginter, right, talks with Bob Farnsworth during a reception Tuesday, July 9, 2019 in Fletcher Hall.

SUSI students

  • Amine Dahou Bouchankouk
  • Archuthan Jeyarajah
  • Denisa Makova
  • Elena Anikina
  • Haitam Zoukaghe
  • Iman Ayad Benomar
  • Ion Harea
  • Iryna Ardiukova
  • Jakub Haluska
  • Laura Arutiunian
  • Lenya Run Taha Karim
  • Loizos Konstantinou
  • Aino Aallotar Makela
  • Mara Caluschi
  • Matas Zykus
  • Merili Ginter
  • Niklas Gieb
  • Panagiota Polykarpou
  • Renato Candeias
  • Vairis Stramkalis

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

Actually, it’s a bit of both for Renato Candeias.

“It’s so hot and humid,” he says.

Candeias hails from Portugal, where you think it’d be hot and humid—and it is, he says—but not like Tennessee in July.

Still, he may get used to it over the next four weeks whiles he lives in the South as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Study at the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders, or SUSI. Students in SUSI have come to the UTC for the past four years. Many in this year’s group of 20 students from 17 different countries are in Chattanooga. Among the countries represented are Finland, Iceland, Sweden, France, Czech Republic, Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

The program plunges the students into an intensive examination of American business, culture and community service. They will take classes, interact with local business owners and meet Chattanooga residents. The hope is that they’ll return to their home countries with a deeper understanding of life in the United States as well as improving their own leadership skills and depth of knowledge.

But there’s also a lot of fun. For instance, after the luncheon, the students were heading out to a Chattanooga Ducks tour through downtown and into the Tennessee River.

“I feel like a spoiled child here,” Merili Ginter of Estonia said during a welcome luncheon Tuesday in the Decosimo Success Center inside the Gary W. Rollins College of Business. She is a first-year student at the University of Tartu in her home country.

A stroll through the crowd at the luncheon is like a walk across the globe. Accents from all over the world could be heard as the SUSI students talked and laughed with local business owners and entrepreneurs as well as UTC faculty and staff.

“I asked them how their experience has been and the smiles lit up. They were so excited,” said Yancy Freeman, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs at UTC.

“I’m so impressed. I can’t wait to start the actual lessons and courses,” said Panagiota Polykarpou, who recently graduated from the University of Cypress with a degree in business administration.

Candeias, a student at the University of Algarve in Portugal, said “everyone is very friendly.”

“It’s been amazing.”

Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.
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