I intend to develop a career around helping people with their relationships to the land. After two years working as a legal assistant at a corporate law firm in New York City, I decided to take a year to travel independently in Southeast Asia in order to experience how people live across the world from my home. I traveled throughout Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and India. I think it is important to be aware of the real problems people face on the ground before looking into sustainability solutions.
In April 2011, I participated in a workshop at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India with the purpose of developing action plans for improving agricultural education and outreach in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region. Afterward I spent a month with the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP), launched under President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, where I learned about agricultural and social issues rural Indian communities face, and the latest technology and education efforts to help. The students I spoke to were enthusiastic of the role biotechnology could play in Indian agriculture. Farmers I visited were eager to try new methods. They wanted to be connected to markets and credit, and have better access and the ability to share knowledge with other communities.
Listening to fellow participants of GESA, I am learning that sustainable development means different things to different people and is a politcally-charged term. I believe it will take a synthesis of scientific, technical, social, political, legal and economic efforts to come up with solutions to what are increasingly globalized environmental problems.