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Global Catalyst Stories: International Programming

The Center for Global Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers funding opportunities for students, faculty and staff to help build global connections with international colleagues and institutional partners. These are known as the Global Catalyst Grants Program and come in the form of student travel, programming and research grants to help foster UT global connections.

Read on to learn more about the 2022–23 Global Catalyst International Programming Grant recipients and the amazing work from each of these UT community members.

To learn more about Global Catalyst Grants visit

Left to right: Vitaliy Starchenko, Olena Korotych, Nathalie Hristov, Angelina Gadeliya and Miroslav Hristov at the Ready for the World Music Series

Left to right: Vitaliy Starchenko, Olena Korotych, Nathalie Hristov, Angelina Gadeliya and Miroslav Hristov at the Ready for the World Music Series

Miroslav Hristov

The Ready for the World Music Series and Ukrainian Musical Artists Residency

Miroslav Hristov is from Stara Zagora, Bulgaria and is faculty member in the School of Music. He has been playing violin for most of his life and was performing with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra when he applied to teach at UT.

Hristov helped organize the Ready for the World Music Series, which took place on February 26, 2023, and was the 18th program of the music series. The music series hosted distinguished Ukrainian musicians, including Angelina Gadeliya, piano professor and coordinator of keyboard studies at the University of Connecticut.

Hristov said that music is a universal language which allows musicians to make connections and develop friendships.

Portrait of Danny Isham

Portrait of Danny Isham

Danny Isham

China Day

Danny Isham is from Cookeville, Tennessee and was a student in the Department of Political Science. He graduated from UT in May 2023 and was a member of the Chinese Culture Club student organization.

Isham said he wanted to broaden the scope of the Chinese Culture Club’s traditional karaoke night by changing the competition to a talent show and a fashion exhibition of traditional Chinese clothing. The turnout was higher this year than previous years, which Danny attributes to the funding from the grant.

“Exploitation for centuries has been supported on either unintentional or intentional misrepresentation of those victimized, with their cultures being deemed ‘backwards’ or ‘uncivilized.’ Through [international] education, we can begin the process of encouraging true representation and cultural appreciation in order to rid ourselves of these misconceptions for good,” said Danny.

Gῖchingiri Ndῖgῖrῖgῖ

Crossings: New Frontiers in African Writing—an African Literature Association Conference

Gῖchingiri Ndῖgῖrῖgῖ is from Nyeri, Kenya and is a professor in the Department of English. His research and teaching interests focus on African and Caribbean literature.

Ndῖgῖrῖgῖ worked collaboratively with other members of the executive committee of the African Literature Association to hold the African Literature Association Annual conference on the UT campus. The conference is the biggest international conference of African literature and performance scholars. The conference had over 200 presenters from 150 US universities and 80 presenters from Canada, Europe and Africa to showcase the complexity of African literature, film and performance.

“I have been a globalist almost all my life and introducing others to less-known places, cultures and literatures inspires me,” said Ndῖgῖrῖgῖ.

Jonathan Adams

Indonesian Performing Arts Collaboration and Performance

Jonathan Adams is from Knoxville, Tennessee and is a faculty member in the School of Music. He said he values the experiences that students gain from exploring music from across the globe so they have a better understanding of where they come from and what they can contribute to the world.

Adams organized the Indonesian Performing Arts Collaboration and Performance, which brought two internationally recognized Indonesian composers to campus and took place on May 1, 2023. This allowed the composers to discuss their creative practices and research and perform with the UT Gamelan. It also gave students the opportunity to spend time with these musicians, which helped them form friendships that transcend UT and the US.

“We live in a deeply interconnected world, and as educated global citizens, we have a responsibility to engage with and understand the disparate peoples with whom we share the planet,” said Adams.

About the Center for Global Engagement

The Center for Global Engagement works to lead, coordinate and support the university’s strategies for global education, research and engagement. Initiatives include developing and managing international partnerships, welcoming and assisting international students and scholars, providing education abroad opportunities to students and creating international and inter-cultural programming for campus and the broader community.


Jason Moody (865-974-5752,