My Path to the World Food Prize
Reflecting on my summer experience as a 2019 World Food Prize George Washington Carver Intern, I think about the path that led me to the Foundation. I am grateful for the road that led me to such a rewarding summer learning experience and would have never imagined ten years ago I would be in this place.
My middle school science teacher instilled in her students the importance of not just learning scientific facts but learning what to do with those facts to make a difference. She worked hard to open our minds to take what we've learned to impact the world around us.
One significant way she did this was to take our class each fall to the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, a three-day conference at a hotel in downtown Des Moines, where agriculture experts, policy and business leaders from all over the world came together to strategize ways to fight world hunger and malnutrition. I must admit that as a middle school student, I did not realize the great opportunity that was handed to me, but nonetheless it did make a big impression. It exposed me to the vital issues of the world that I never saw, and the importance of applying our knowledge to improving others' lives. Little did I know, I would later be working for this exceptional organization alongside these experts and leaders striving to combat world hunger!
In high school, I had another chance encounter with the World Food Prize organization when I attended an afternoon seminar hosted by John Ruan III, introducing the work and projects of The World Food Prize. I was thrilled to see my retired middle school teacher, now a tour guide for the Hall of Laureate!
Growing up in Des Moines, the beautiful Hall of Laureates building has always been a gem, standing out on the Des Moines riverwalk. From the outside, it is the picture-perfect building to take photos or stroll through the garden, but the real beauty lies within the building. This summer, I have been privileged to learn about the inner workings of this magnificent spot, and what truly makes it a wonderful building. Through this experience, I saw the ins and outs of working for a nonprofit foundation that is changing the lives of people through recognizing bold individuals and creating a space to discuss world hunger. This building is much more than the beautiful stained glass windows and garden, but a place where a 20-year-old girl from the University of Nebraska can feel like she is a part of something bigger than herself and truly make a difference.
My summer road has been filled with a multitude of different experiences. First, I had the opportunity to backpack through Europe before starting my internship. Living in different countries, cultures, and climates opened my eyes wider and gave me a new perspective. Once home in Des Moines at the World Food Prize, I have learned of the workings of an organization whose mission is helping others world-wide!
I am the public relations intern this summer. Through my experience at the World Food Prize Foundation, I have been able to work closely with and learn from all of my coworkers. I work on our digital footprint, media tracking, and various writing materials. The public is educated and knowledge is power, and this is how we work to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. The mission of the World Food Prize is bold, but so are all of the foundation’s employees.
One especially rewarding experience on my summer journey was spending time with the President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn. Ambassador Quinn’s words inspired me to reflect upon my internship experience in terms of a path. The Ambassador is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom garnered from years of global service and he shared how his path, including detours he had not anticipated, brought him to success. In discussing the risks and challenges of his career choices, Ambassador Quinn shared how within every decision it isn’t always best to take the easy way out. It was Ambassador Quinn’s assignment to Cambodia and his Southeast Asian experience which forever changed his life, giving him multiple opportunities to make a positive impact in this world. His advice, “What may look like a wrong turn can lead you to the right path,” this will stick with me on my continued journey.
As I reflect on this summer, I am thankful for the path that led me to this place. And I am most grateful to take my World Food Prize experiences, new friends, newly learned skills and talents, and precious memories with me as I continue down my path.