Summer Abroad: Rome, Italy

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I had the amazing opportunity to intern in Rome, Italy this summer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As a graduate student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, I was able to apply to the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Internship Program (ANRP) and be selected as A&M’s intern for FAO.

The objective of this internship was to gain a better knowledge base and understanding of the work FAO does regarding solutions created to promote sustainability by focusing on the benefits of smallholder livestock production and its relation to poverty reduction. I was able to gain a better understanding of the policy analysis and advice processes in FAO as they relate to ensuring the livestock sector’s contribution to sustainable food and agriculture.

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FAO is an intergovernmental organization with 194 member nations, two associate members, and one member organization, the European Union. It has listed five main objectives to achieve its vision and goals to meet the demands caused by major global trends in agriculture and the challenges many face with development. The strategic objectives include: help eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition; make agriculture, forestry, and fisheries more productive and sustainable; reduce rural poverty; enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems; increase the resilience of livelihoods to disasters.

Living in Rome for three months was an experience I will never forget. Rome is a huge, vibrant city with so much history. Every day I got to walk by the Colosseum on my way to work leaving me constantly in awe! It was very surreal seeing ancient ruins as part of my daily routine here in Rome.

Working at FAO was a very good experience. I was able to learn quite a bit about how an international organization conducts business at such a high level. I worked with the livestock information, sector analysis and policy branch, and spent most of my time researching and writing for my project. My focus was on the contribution of smallholder livestock production systems to poverty reduction and economic growth – with specific emphasis on the potential impact of any ‘second generation exit’ effect. I also interacted with many animal health interns, which has taught me a lot about the one health concept. Although it is not always clear to see, FAO has a profound impact on poverty reduction and building sustainable livelihoods.

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I enjoyed every minute of my time spent in Italy travelling, meeting new people, and learning about the culture. There is so much that I was able to accomplish, yet I feel as though there was still so much left that I had not done in Italy. I hope to one day travel back there to experience Italy through the eyes of the Italians.

Due to my internship at FAO, I have a better direction of where I see my career going. However, now I have to figure out what path works best for me. I want to be able to create partnerships between corporations and organizations like FAO to promote poverty reduction and a more sustainable livelihood for those living in poor conditions. I feel as if my internship at FAO has provided me with the first step into pursuing an occupation with international development. Although it was not the ideal experience, it has played a significant role in my professional development.

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My time in Rome was an experience I will never forget. Although my work at FAO took up my weekdays, we were still able to explore many areas of Italy on the weekends. I have selected a few photos, shown below, of some of the places I got to see while I was in Italy. Enjoy! — Marea

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About the Author
Marea Pappas is a Texas native. As a graduate student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, she was able to apply to the Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Internship Program (ANRP) and be selected as A&M’s intern with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
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