This summer, as a team of eight students, we gained significant information, skills, and abilities in global agricultural production, resources, and food issues on how to examine real-world initiatives focused on global food and agriculture concerns. Throughout the program, our team collaborated with experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) about complex global agriculture and food issues such as biodiversity, foreign food aid, food security, food safety, and policy. At the end of the trip, our team reported the findings through a guidance note and policy brief to different divisions within the FAO. This opportunity improved our thinking while working in a high-functioning team environment to evaluate complex issues while learning about the host country's culture, politics, society, and altered stereotypes.
The most memorable trip experience was when my classmates and I presented at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). We started collaborating with our clients at FAO in January, but we could only discuss our project updates with them via email and virtual meetings. We presented on the last day of our trip in the Ethiopia Room at FAO, one of the hundreds of rooms in the building. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discuss our findings on Wild Foods with our clients in the Forestry Division and other FAO employees who showed interest in our project. After our presentation, we went to a Café across the street from FAO where my team members and I could personally connect with our clients, which I enjoyed since our previous conversations were solely about our project. The trip's major highlight was the opportunity to present at FAO and develop a strong professional relationship with our clients. I envision working and collaborating with them in the future.
What did you not expect?
The school and living accommodation I was in was called Piazza delle Cinque Scole and was located in the Jewish Ghetto, within walking distance of any historical site. This space was managed by the Iowa State University College of Design. My group could walk anywhere from the Pantheon to the Colosseum in under 20 minutes. It was a joy when my team needed a break from working, and we could walk right down the alley and be in front of a building with so much history. Living in Rome for four weeks made me appreciate art and history so much more and would love to live in an ancient city in my older years.
What advice would you give?
Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, I know that is hard to say when traveling in a foreign country, but some of the best memories are made that way. In addition, I would highly recommend checking out the train and bus system before departing for your trip. Our group ran into some major difficulties when we traveled alone without our professors and had to figure out the transportation system.
How has this experience impacted your life?
Through the collaboration with FAO members, my teammates and I learned the importance of wild foods in enhancing dietary diversity and the importance of improving survey data to better assess their role. But, more generally, about the important role of the FAO in addressing complex global problems and the necessity of strong, collaborative, interdisciplinary teams for addressing them. Having this connection with individuals who have a deepened knowledge of food, world food issues, and food insecurity are all concepts I will have to address when working with clients in the professional world as a Registered Dietitian. Interviewing and working with sophisticated professionals will help enhance my communication and presentation skills while helping me grow as a global citizen.
How did you learn about this experience?
I learned about this study abroad opportunity from my academic advisor and other faculty and staff in the FSHN department. During my first year at Iowa State, my advisor stated that this program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is one of the most valued study abroad programs. In addition, there were two informational meetings to learn about the trip.International Connections