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Fri, 10/02/2020 - 15:44
Classroom knowledge might be not enough to understand the whole concept.
What it lacks is real life examples and how it works actually in reality.
This trip helped me to see what I was lacking.
Agriculture is something really different in the field.
We have seen a lot of practical issues farmers are dealing with which are not as smooth as
in theory.
They have a lot of challenges but they have overcome those challenges by using their own
innovations and technologies.
We're looking at agriculture, we're looking at social structures as well - Are women being
treated fairly in agriculture?
We've also talked about climate change.
We're going to a lot of sites.
We're seeing coconut farms, we're seeing tea plantations.
We're seeing Cacao, spices, all sorts of really cool things.
All of the people who we've been able to meet from their extensive knowledge and expertise
in their field, we've got all of our questions answered, we've been exposed to things we
never even thought we'd be exposed to and had access to people and companies that normally
you wouldn't have access to.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this trip not only is the content that we're getting
in the field, but also the fact that we're all together with so many students from Indian
universities, masters and professional students and faculty from Indian universities, and
so many Cornell students who are from different countries as well.
We're all having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together every single day.
We're on the trips together.
We're having the same questions, we're having the same discussions afterwards.
We're able to get such a varied perspective into some of the things we're discussing on
this trip, and having access to so many different thoughts and so many different kinds of ideas
is so so inspiring.
There are students from around 6 continents, you know.
So the visit was actually a very informative learning experience for us.
There were students from Argentina, students who had roots in Spain and Bangladesh.
It's actually more than just visiting a place, but the impact of all the students from all
around the world.
So I think the diversity of the students had a great synergistic effect on us in the learning
It was really a nice group and when we interact with each other we have come to know about
their culture, their agriculture.
We exchanged a lot.
We have learned a lot from them.
I shared my culture with them, so it was really a nice experience for me.
The different opinions and different perspectives.
Everyone comes from a different background, that means the way we process information
might be different.
It's like a puzzle that we put together and it becomes complete.
I come from a very basic research background.
I've always focused on molecular biology.
I felt that there was this misconnection between what I did in the lab and what farmers actually
So I decided I needed something more applied.
That's why I decided to start a career in international agriculture so I could help
farmers with their immediate needs.
We came to a state in India, to Tamil Nadu.
It's one of the best states to visit because agriculture is so important here.
There's a lot of different rural development projects that we can follow here.
Overall here in India we've visited irrigation schemes, we've visited cooperative farming
systems, we've visited research stations.
All of that is here specifically in the state.
The idea for this visit was to have a field component of everything we've learned in the
class but also to have a cultural immersion in what India really feels like.
Coming to the Indian field trip what I felt is that though we have learned these things
theoretically, even for our undergrad, for our masters.
These things were not new to us, but the field exposure was new.
We know these are the things that work, the problems faced by farmers, but the real exposure
by the farmers.
We had the chance to visit the field, that was the main thing.
Whatever practical knowledge we didn't have, that we were exposed to when we came for this
Though it was only on one state, it was wide.
The crops we visited, the value addition, the cocoa, sugarcane, strawberry.
These are the things which were new to me.
I've been on the value addition team on this trip, so we've been going to some of the leading
food manufacturing and processing companies in South India.
We've gone to a variety of companies.
We've been able to see so many integrated production to market company strategies that
have been very very inspiring.
So this trip overall has just been an amazing eye-opening impactful experience and so many
of the things we're learning here not only are we planning to apply our own research
and our own professional goals but also it's giving us a real in the field look at what
is going on with rural people.
This was really a phenomenal trip.
It's jam-packed with everything.
Sometimes the days just fly by because you're visiting three farms or NGOs in a day, and
it's just really rich because we're doing so much, we're seeing so many different things.
With this course more than changing my thinking it kind of solidified that this was the career
path that I wanted to go on.
Being here India, speaking with the farmers, I think this is a great experience for me
to understand what farmers actually need and what do they want for their future.
It's very inspiring in that sense.
This experience has been eye opening for me in every aspect of my career and I think being
here in India will lead me towards working more passionately in international agriculture
in my future.