Pellissippi State hosts Mediterranean Cultural Fest

The Mediterranean Sea touches countries on three continents, bridging the cultures of a vast and exotic expanse. Pellissippi State Community College celebrates that region with the Mediterranean Cultural Festival on Nov. 2.

The free event is 5-8:30 p.m. in the Goins Building College Center on the Hardin Valley Campus. The public is encouraged to attend.

The festival is part of the Arts at Pellissippi State series, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

The Mediterranean Cultural Festival showcases the entertainment of the region with the following performances:

  • 6-7 p.m.—Debka and the Oasis Dancers, a Knoxville-based belly dancing group.
  • 7:10-8:30 p.m.—Italian violinist Al Colombo and ensemble. The group also features Mike Benjamin on keyboard and vocals and David Correll on bass guitar. The ensemble plays classic and contemporary Italian music, including pieces written by Italy’s foremost composers.

Take in the performances and experience the region’s food at an epicurean marketplace with fruits and vegetables and an Italian café with European teas, coffees, and desserts.

Participants also can sample Spanish paella, pastitsio with bechamel topping, Mediterranean pasta salad with California avocado, tzatziki sauce with falafel, keftedes (Greek meatballs), and hummus and pita bread.

The festival is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Access and Diversity Office. For more information, call (865) 694-6400 or email Gayle Wood, director of Access and Diversity, at

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action for Pellissippi State, (865) 694-6607 or

‘Arabian Nights’ play opens at Pellissippi State Community College

Staging a classic takes courage, invention, and a committed cast and crew, and all of those essentials are in place for the opening performance of “Arabian Nights” at Pellissippi State Community College on Nov. 2.

The presentation is part of the Arts at Pellissippi State, an ongoing opportunity for the community to enjoy cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the visual arts.

Performances of “Arabian Nights” are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2-3, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10, 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 11, 2 p.m. All showings are in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus.

Charles R. Miller, who directs the college’s theatrical presentations, has assembled one of the largest casts in a decade for “Arabian Nights.” The show features the technical expertise of Claude Hardy, a new assistant professor of Theatre.

Audiences will find “Arabian Nights” as dramatic as it is timeless, says Miller. It’s wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. By morning, the new queen, Shahrazad, is to be put to death like a thousand young brides before her. But she has a gift that can save her, the power of storytelling. Every night, she must tell a story to save her own life.

For the 18-member group of Pellissippi State students, alumni and community residents who make up the cast, the stakes are also pretty high. Shahrazad tells seven stories, and each one must be more compelling than the last. Cast and crew must follow suit.

“That’s really the key to this show,” said Professor Miller. “It has to get bigger and bolder from story to story.”

Miller chose to present a contemporary adaptation of “Arabian Nights” by Dominic Cooke, a former associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Cooke directed the show three years ago and drew rave reviews from London critics.

“It’s a very simplistic script when you read it, and it’s all about how you do the staging around it,” said Miller. “This is going to have dance, music, mime, puppetry.” Claude Hardy has created a set design with five platforms that can be moved and reconfigured for each story that Shahrazad tells.

The show also requires nimble actors who can take on more than one role.

“The actors are getting to do a lot of different things,” Miller said. “They’re getting to do dance, puppetry and acting. With this show, in particular, their level of focus and discipline has to be absolute. There are very few things at the college level that teach you focus and discipline the way theatre does.”

“Arabian Nights” is the first of two family-friendly shows scheduled for this semester. The second is “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” with The WordPlayers in December.

Cost of admission to “Arabian Nights” is $8 for Pellissippi State faculty, staff, and students; $10 for other students; and $12 for adults.

Tickets may be purchased through the Arts at Pellissippi State website,, or by calling (865) 694-6400. They also may be reserved by phone at (865) 694-6684 or by email at

Proceeds go to the Pellissippi State Foundation to benefit the Theatre program.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action for Pellissippi State, (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State lecture: Why Americans are intrigued by the supernatural

Wizards, vampires, werewolves, zombies. They’re on the rise.

Or rather, Americans’ interest in them is on the rise. That’s according to Heather Schroeder, an English faculty member at Pellissippi State Community College. And Schroeder thinks she knows why.

“The rise of interest in the supernatural in the last decade is not surprising,” she said. “It’s a direct outgrowth of the post-9/11 world.”

Schroeder, an author and former news reporter and editor, presents her thoughts in the lecture “Seduction of the Supernatural.” The event takes place 4:30-5:30 p.m., Oct. 29, in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus of Pellissippi State.

The lecture is sponsored by the student club Gnosis. The community is invited to the free event.

“I will aim to show how our interest in all things supernatural is an attempt to explain larger social and cultural issues,” she said.

Schroeder will reference the Harry Potter and Twilight series. She also will discuss “A Discovery of Witches,” the first novel in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

“Especially in the South, you hear that books about the supernatural are anti-Christian and ungodly,” she said, “but what’s interesting about this kind of literature is that a lot of it isn’t in the ‘Horror’ section at the bookstores anymore.”

For more information about the lecture, contact Trent Eades, a Gnosis faculty sponsor, at or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

‘Internationalization in a World on the Edge’ Oct. 24 at Pellissippi State

Pellissippi State Community College and the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies host a presentation on Oct. 24 by global studies expert Richard Slimbach.

In “Internationalization in a World on the Edge,” Slimbach explores the current best practices in international education. The presentation begins at 11:50 a.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Slimbach is a professor of global studies and the coordinator of the Global Studies program at California’s Azusa Pacific University. He has a Ph.D. in comparative and international education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and he is the author of the 2010 book “Becoming World Wise.”

Slimbach founded Azusa’s Master of Arts in Transformational Urban Leadership program, which focuses on the planet’s one billion slum dwellers. Azusa Pacific has eight campus locations in Southern California.

During the one-hour presentation, Slimbach discusses the increased need for colleges and universities to internationalize and some of the ways to approach it: foreign language study, discipline and area studies, campus diversity activities, study abroad, service learning, international research. He also addresses ways in which internationalization can better balance its academic and economic mandates with desired student learning outcomes.

TnCIS, whose headquarters are at Pellissippi State, coordinates study abroad opportunities as part of its mission of boosting international experience and culture in higher education across the state. More than 400 students and 50 faculty from across Tennessee participated in the summer 2012 study abroad programs coordinated by TnCIS. There are 18 study abroad programs planned for summer 2013.

For additional information about TnCIS, visit or call (865) 539-7280. For information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State, Painting with a Twist host art party for scholarships

Pellissippi State Community College’s Alumni Association and the West Knoxville business Painting with a Twist are again joining forces to host “Painting with a Purpose,” an art party to raise funds for the college’s Alumni Scholarship.

Scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., the event offers participants the chance to create a work of art while at the same time supporting scholarship recipients. Created in fall 2010 by the Pellissippi State Foundation, the Alumni Scholarship is awarded annually to a child or spouse of a Pellissippi State graduate.

The cost to participate in the art party is $35. Canvas, brushes and paint are supplied, and an instructor offers guidance in creating a custom painting. No knowledge of painting is required. Snacks and soft drinks also are provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own beverage. The business is located at 10932 Murdock Dr., Suite 103-A.

Thanks to the generosity of Patty Walden, owner of the Knoxville Painting with a Twist franchise, $25 of the event fee goes directly to the Alumni Scholarship fund. Walden hosts Painting with a Purpose with various nonprofit organizations every month. The college and Walden’s business hosted a successful art party last October.

Seating for the art party is limited, so participants are asked to sign on by Friday, Oct. 19, at or (865) 539-7275. For more information about Painting with a Twist, visit To learn more about the Pellissippi State Alumni Association, go to

Pellissippi State hosts Oct. 13 Habitat shed-raising event

Eighteen sheds. Seven-and-a-half hours. One hundred volunteers at Pellissippi State Community College.

Hammers will be swinging on the Hardin Valley Campus on Saturday, Oct. 13, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., as the college hosts an alternative fall break event titled “Shed Happens.”

Pellissippi State is joining with Lowe’s Home Improvement Heroes Project, the Loudon County Habitat for Humanity, Smithbilt Homes and TnAchieves to construct 18 sheds to be donated to the Loudon County Habitat for Humanity.

The Loudon County Habitat presents each family it works with on building a home with a storage shed upon the house’s completion, and the Pellissippi State partnership’s efforts will provide the nonprofit organization with an 18-month supply of sheds.

The college’s participation is part of its Service-Learning program, launched last year.

Service-Learning integrates community service and academics to make education relevant and exciting, says Tara Lynn, who facilitates the program with Annie Gray. Lynn and Gray are both English faculty members. Lynn says she and Gray hope that the partnership among businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the college will become a model for community and civic engagement efforts throughout the state.

“Six of our classes currently have a service-learning component,” said Lynn. “There are approximately 1,000 to 1,500 Pellissippi State students engaged in service in the community in some way, whether through Service-Learning courses, our Gnosis student service club or TnAchieves. This event is our single largest Service-Learning volunteer effort for fall 2012.”

For more information about Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program or the shed-raising event, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: GED requirements change, free prep classes offered

What could you accomplish if you didn’t complete high school but went back and earned your GED? Quite a lot, judging by the list of successful people who did just that. They include, for starters, Delaware’s governor, the founder of Wendy’s fast food chain, a NASA astronaut and the 17th surgeon general.

The Adult Education Program at Pellissippi State Community College offers free GED preparation classes that can help you prepare for and pass the GED test and get started on the life you deserve.

Whether you need to start studying for the GED or finish taking the multipart test, now is the time to do it, says Joan Newman, the college’s director of Adult Education. The reason is simple: The current version of the test (the 2002 series) changes at the end of 2013, and any incomplete scores expire at that time.

After that, test-takers will have to start all over again with the 2014 GED. That test will be based on emerging national and state standards. It will be delivered only on computer—no paper and pencil allowed—and it will be more expensive, Newman says.

“According to the statistics, there are more than a million working-age adults who have started but not finished the current GED test,” she said. “These adults need to complete the test as soon as possible. It will open doors to college, training and better jobs for them.”

The current GED arranged through the college is $65. The test contains five parts. They may be taken separately, but all parts must be passed to receive the corresponding credential.

The GED preparation classes offered at Pellissippi State are free.

“Our GED classes are also small in size,” said Newman, “and our teachers are knowledgeable, encouraging, and caring. They know how to work with adults and teach the material students need in order to pass the GED tests. Many students are ready to take the GED after only two to 12 weeks of study.”

Day and evening GED prep classes are available at several locations in the Knoxville area, and new student orientation sessions take place weekly. One-on-one tutoring is available, as are computer programs that students can access outside of class.

Instructors are available to help students reach their goals after passing the test, by connecting them with a Tennessee Career Center for employment information or a postsecondary institution such as Pellissippi State to enroll in a training program or college classes.

For information about class locations and upcoming orientation sessions, call the Adult Education Program at (865) 539-7109. To learn more about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus: Donate blood, possibly win tickets to Foothills Fall Festival

Medic Regional Blood Center is hosting a blood drive at Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus on Wednesday, Oct. 10, and those who donate will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Foothills Fall Festival. More important, donors will play an instrumental role in keeping the blood supply at the  levels needed to serve community members in the East Tennessee region.

One donation can help up to three people. Blood and its components are used for transfusions, as well as in the treatment of cancer patients and those with clotting disorders. There is a current need for all blood types.

The Foothills Fall Festival, a three-day event featuring concerts, juried art, exhibits and 16 acres of rides and games, is scheduled for Oct. 12-14 in Maryville. Performers this year include nationally known artists Train and Darius Rucker, along with local and regional acts.

Medic is giving a pair of reserved-seat tickets good for all three days of the performances to one blood donor who donates prior to Oct. 11.

Donors must be at least 17 years of age and weigh a minimum 110 pounds. They should not have fasted prior to arriving. In fact, Medic suggests that donors eat a meal and drink fluids approximately three hours prior to donating. Participants are asked to provide photo identification and a list of all current medications to Medic personnel at the site.

Event hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The mobile unit will be parked in the front lot of the Blount County Campus, 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.

Additional information on the donation process can be found at

Pellissippi State offers fitness and personal safety classes

From sessions with a personal trainer to self-defense for women, Pellissippi State Community College is offering an array of non-credit fitness and personal safety classes this fall. The selection, provided by Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services Division, includes the following:

Women’s Self-Defense Seminar Level 1”—Saturday, Oct. 20, 2-5 p.m.; $40. This new course is the first in a series of three. Open to females ages 14 and up, the three-hour class covers the basics, including dealing with attacks in parking lots, garages and other sites where it is imperative that a potential victim not be taken to a secondary location.

Jujitsu”—Tuesdays and Thursdays, Oct. 25-Dec. 18 (No class Nov. 22), 5:30-6:30 p.m.; $75. Suitable for any skill level and age, this 15-session course provides in-depth training in both ground and standing joint locks, chokes, and striking. Students may choose to specialize their training in one or more of these areas.

Karate”—Tuesdays and Thursdays, Oct. 25-Dec. 18 (No class Nov. 22), 6:30-8 p.m.; $100. The course includes 22.5 hours of instruction in isshinryu karate, jujitsu and self-defense. Participants may choose to specialize their training in one or more of these areas. Classes are suitable for any skill level and age.

Refuse to Be a Victim®”—Friday, Nov. 2, 6-10 p.m.; $39, plus $6 materials fee payable to the instructor at the first class. Started in 1993, this National Rifle Association program teaches men and women the skills to prepare their own crime prevention and personal safety strategies. Topics include safety at home, in automobiles, and during travel; safety when using the phone and Internet; and fraud prevention.

Zumba Fitness®”—Mondays, Nov. 5-Dec. 10, 5:45-6:45 p.m.; $45. This Latin-inspired dance fitness program blends international music created by Grammy Award–winning producers with contagious steps to form a “fitness party.” A certified Zumba Fitness® instructor leads participants in a dynamic, fun and effective option for exercise.

Personal Training for Fitness”—Six one-hour sessions with dates and times to be determined by student and trainer; $270 for one participant, $150 each for two participants, $120 each for three or more participants. This new class allows students to discover the benefits of working with a certified personal trainer in a one-on-one or small-group setting. From fitness novices to exercise experts, students receive a customized workout plan.

All courses listed take place at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus.

Non-credit courses also are currently being offered by Pellissippi State in Blount County. For information or registration, visit or call (865) 539-7167. The BCS website lists updated class schedules and information on new course offerings.

Pellissippi State presents ‘Genius Loci’ exhibit, featuring local artist Katie Ries

Pellissippi State Community College hosts “Genius Loci,” a multimedia exhibit and series of arts events by local artist Katie Ries, at the Hardin Valley Campus Oct. 8-Nov. 2. Ries’ interdisciplinary work incorporates drawing, costuming and social events designed to raise questions about how people access and engage with the land around them.

Previous area exhibits by Ries include a collaboratively stocked vending machine selling helpful kits instead of junk food; a series of costumes for gallery guests to wear; seedlings to be taken home, planted, and raised by art patrons; and small chores to be completed in exchange for objects in an art gallery. Ries’ 2008 costume show garnered a Metro Pulse comparison to Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka’s 1956 “Electric Dress,” a garment crafted from light bulbs and electrical cords.

Area residents may recognize Ries’ name, even if they’ve never attended one of her exhibits. The artist was a co-founder of The Birdhouse, a collective arts space in Knoxville’s Fourth and Gill neighborhood. Since 2006, The Birdhouse has fostered and promoted emerging artists and musicians by renting studio spaces and by hosting exhibits, concerts, and special events.

Ries is also well-known for the Urban Land Scouts, a group she began in 2010 in order to teach and promote land stewardship.

The artist currently serves as the marketing and outreach director for Three Rivers Market food cooperative in North Knoxville. Ries has a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from Colorado College and a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in printmaking from the University of Tennessee.

Ries says the show’s title, “Genius Loci,” refers to the ancient Roman belief in a resident spirit—a genius loci—who looked after and dwelt in a specific location. It also refers to her public and private engagements with that genius loci and ideas of environmental sustainability.

“Publicly, I host and promote the Urban Land Scouts, a group that teaches land stewardship and eco-literacy in the city. Privately, I seek to strike a balance between fantastic and realistic ideas of self-sufficiency, sustainability, and stewardship,” she said.

Four special events are planned for Ries’ “Genius Loci” exhibit:

  • Opening reception—Oct. 8, 3-5 p.m.
  • Shoemaking talk and demonstration with guest Daniel Scott, cordwainer (maker of fine leather shoes)—Oct. 9, 3-5 p.m.
  • Introduction to urban land scouting, which includes a short outdoor walk and a pamphlet-style bookbinding activity—Oct. 22, 3-5 p.m.
    Limited to 15 participants, with registration required. Bring a drawing implement, and dress for the weather. Children are welcome, but they may require assistance in binding books. Please contact Jennifer Brickey at (865) 694-6634 or to register.
  • Artist talk by Katie Ries—Oct. 29, 3-5 p.m.

“Genius Loci” is one of the events that make up Pellissippi State’s new arts series, “The Arts at Pellissippi State.” The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

Regular exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The showing and associated special events take place in the gallery of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the Hardin Valley Campus. The exhibit and events are free and open to the public.

For additional information about the exhibit or “The Arts at Pellissippi State,” call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN