PHL Scholar Report: Illinois freshman goes to Rome in first semester, dream school exceeding expectations

By Alex Brockamp, University of Illinois freshman, studying agricultural and biological engineering

A. Brockamp (second left) was one of 7 top undergrads at Illinois chosen to attend the First PHL Congress as a PHL Scholar / © Francesco Vignali Photography

A. Brockamp (second from left) was one of 7 top undergrads at Illinois chosen to attend the First PHL Congress as a PHL Scholar / © Francesco Vignali Photography

Seven University of Illinois students were sponsored to attend the First International Congress on Postharvest Loss Prevention in Rome, Italy. They have written about their experiences for the #PreventPHL blog campaign.

Imagine going to your dream college, in your major of choice, and finding out a few weeks into your freshman year that you have the opportunity to go on a trip to Rome, Italy to attend an international conference!

I know – it might seem crazy – but I was fortunate enough to get this opportunity this October. While I was abroad, I learned about important global issues, met world experts and leaders, and experienced Italian culture. Needless to say – I had a blast!

I had never been on an international flight before, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed my flights both to and from the United States. As I mentioned above, the main focus of this trip was to attend a conference dealing with postharvest loss – the First International Congress for Postharvest Loss Prevention hosted by the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss. Unfortunately, about 1/3 of the world’s food supply is wasted because of issues with availability of technology, market access, a lack of education, and other issues. Many of these losses come from the poorest nations around the world, and reducing these losses is a major step in the way of fighting world hunger. While at the conference, I got to speak with world-renowned scholars about postharvest loss, and I helped the planning committee make sure everything went smoothly. Sure, running errands for everyone isn’t always the most fun task, but when in Rome – it sure beats being in class!

Other than the conference, I managed do some sight-seeing and of course, eat plenty of gelato!  I had always wanted to see the Vatican, and felt that the long lines outside were an even trade-off for the history and culture I experienced while inside. I was really struck by how different of a lifestyle the people in Rome live compared to our lifestyle here in Illinois. Meals take forever, which gave me lots of time to enjoy the Italian cuisine that I dined on each day.  Every night I got to experience a new dish, from a new restaurant, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. My favorite part of the entire trip was immersing myself in the Italian culture. I was truly thankful for this opportunity, and can’t wait to see where my next trip with Illinois will take me!

This is the first in a series of posts. For more from Congress attendees, visit this link. For more from our PHL Scholars, look for PHL Scholar Reports.

The blog entries in this #PreventPHL series are by students and members of the PHL Prevention community of practice. The opinions expressed are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the ADM Institute. In addition, none of the statements should be considered an endorsement of any person, product, or technique by the ADM Institute.

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