I-CAL Perspectives: It’s a Small World

College students who participate in the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program travel overseas to learn about global agriculture and international marketing. During the two-week annual program, students tour international components of agriculture like feed mills, open air feed and animal markets, livestock operations and food processing plants. Now returned from their June 2013 trip to Brazil, they are providing regular updates to put their experiences in perspective.

This dispatch comes from Kari Weis:

It is hard to believe that a month ago our I-CAL group was boarding a plane for Brazil. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the trip and the experiences while there. During the 10 days, I toured the city of Rio de Janeiro and the beautiful countryside and learned many Brazilian cultural ways. I was able to compare their agricultural methods to that of the United States. The experiences of sugarcane harvesting, swine and flower production in Brazil will be forever remembered.

When I applied to be apart of the I-CAL Program I stated that the international experience would provide me with valuable knowledge to understand what kind of technologies are needed in the plant science industry. Never would I have thought that my experiences in Brazil would continue on as they have in the states, but as the song goes… It’s a small world.

I-CAL students take part in a workshop in Brazil.

Upon my return, I hit the ground running. I moved to Fayetteville, Ark., to intern with the University of Arkansas’ plant pathology department. On the first day, I walked into my project manager’s office to find out that he had lived in Brazil for nine months. The day continued with surprises when I was introduced to my lab colleagues and the fellow grad students. As each one shook my hand they told me where they were from…Brazil…Colombia… Brazil… Brazil. Brazil was a popular response, and we spent the majority of the day talking about the beautiful country and comparing it to the United States.

Four weeks later and the grad students and I still ask each other questions about one another’s cultures, traditions and agricultural practices. We have bonded over our love of Guarana, a specialty soda in Brazil. Lucas, one of my mentors from Sao Paulo, has taught me words from his plant pathology book written in Portuguese. It is as though my trip from Brazil never stopped. I am still learning an immense amount about the Brazilian culture and the agriculture sector. It has been wonderful to have people to talk talk to and share my most recent adventure with. The timing of this event in my life is unbelievablejust like the time I spent in Brazil.


Kari Weis is student at the University of Missouri studying agricultural science and agricultural journalism.


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