As we enter into our very last leg of the trip, we are presented with a question that is not only looming now in our final day in Southeast Asia, but one which will come from many of our parents, friends, and family long after we return. This question will force us to analyze what we have learned, ways in which we have grown, and how we can integrate this experience into our future. This question, which is often finished with a stretched “o” sound and a look of anticipation, is stated very simply as “So?”
Considering this question is now upon us 12 students, it was fitting that we wrapped up our final day in Southeast Asia looking into the different ways agriculture is communicated and connected to people in many different sectors around the world. Upon our early flight and arrival into Singapore, we got lunch as a group in the nearby mall. Afterwards, we were taken downtown to explore the very lavish and large financial district of Singapore, which among its many currency exchange shops, high tech retailers, and young business people; we found it to be a very modern large city.
We then were able to catch a glimpse of agriculture’s wide connectivity by visiting with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which is a risk management company that has a large section of its work devoted to futures and options in international grains, corn, and other agricultural products. We learned about the complex yet powerful tools that agricultural futures and options can offer to both agriculturalist and others in terms of understanding markets, managing risk, and hopefully staying successful. Also, if nothing else, the students learned that by better understanding futures, options, and markets, we can become an even more competitive, opportunity seeking generation of agriculturalists and leaders.
Following our time with CME and CBOT, we visited with Bloomberg. Bloomberg is a company which provides subscriptions to terminals, which are hardware/software packages that can provide businesses with constant, up-to-date information focusing on anything related to market, trends, and essentially any information that a company could find advantageous. They are also a large supplier of news to the world, including in the agriculture field. We began our visit with them by touring their office in Singapore. We learned about their company goals and strong emphasis on customer service. After experiencing their impressive snack station, we met with Mr. James Poole who works with agricultural news to learn more about what Bloomberg does in relation to the industry.
The end of our last full day in Southeast Asia was spent taking in the sights and culture of Singapore. We visited areas along the bay and observed the breathtaking architecture from above the city and at ground level. Dinner family style, over the water with some signature chili crab was a great way to finish up our last night together.
To completely wrap up our adventures, we completed another Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis on Malaysia and Singapore. This was the time where we were able to answer the “So?” question proposed earlier. We have taken bits of knowledge and experience from our entire trip and built a valuable resource for our future careers in agriculture. Like never before, we are able to connect the field of agriculture to everyday life globally and on the home front.
Shasta Sowers – Virginia Tech
Edward Silva – University of California – Davis