On Thursday, October 29, the Alumni Affairs Office, Office of Advancement, and the Center for Global Engagement hosted a first-ever virtual Volunteer Town Hall for alumni in Asia with featured keynote speaker Chancellor Donde Plowman. Almost 130 alumni and friends of the university registered to attend.
The town hall focused on the university’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Big Orange Give, and new ways the Office of Asia Engagement plans to stay connected.
“We look forward to hosting future webinars designed for our international Vols, in partnership with the Center for Global Engagement”, said Duane Wiles, Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Affairs.
Since May, more than 15 Vol Town Hall virtual events have been held for alumni around the world. At each event, multiple alumni hosts make a philanthropic contribution to the local alumni chapter’s scholarship or another fund of their choosing and encourage other participants to do the same.
The town hall was generously hosted by Randy Belcher (’84; Hong Kong), Lawrence Chia (’84; Hong Kong), and Dwight Hutchins (’86; Singapore).
With the pandemic’s impact on international travel, UT Knoxville’s Chancellor addressed the university’s plan to adapt to unusual times.
“What we have learned is that we can move on a dime as a huge university, we are agile…this has shown all of us what we are capable of and we will get to the other side, we are having to be creative…” Plowman said.
This resonates with the UT Knoxville Alumni office’s motto of “Be Proud. Be Involved. Be Invested.” Throughout this pandemic, it is crucial to become creative and keep the enthusiasm high.
The Center for Global Engagement has had to find new ways and flexibility to do research without travel.
The Vice Provost of International Affairs, Gretchen Neisler, discussed how Vol Core will be implemented and how it will contribute to student success and keeping international travel purposeful.
Vol Core will include a specific focus on global citizenship. This will be a collection of courses that contribute to growth, explore meaningful lived experiences, and provide virtual international experiences. Students will be supported in their personal exploration of understanding their role as global citizens.
Vol Town Hall also heard from a 2020 Chancellor’s Honors Extraordinary Professional Promise recipient, Quynh Nguyen. Nguyen is currently a graduate student pursuing an MFA in Studio Art and an emerging artist from Vietnam.
Quynh’s artwork is pre and post-Vietnam war that encompasses the history and memories she has from her culture. She shared her artwork and discussed her experience at UT from Vietnam.
“Thanks to the generosity of UT, the travel awards mean a lot to me. I would not be able to fulfill my exhibition without this wonderful support. I am very happy to enjoy my experience during my MFA program here at UT. This is my first time studying abroad and I have not survived here but thrived.” Quynh said during Thursday’s event.
“Don’t forget to stay connected and join the Big Orange Give on November 18,” Steve Catlett, Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement, said. “You can contribute to new ideas and help fund the international program to give students like Quynh Nguyen more opportunities.”