From my first day at the Director General’s Office of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), my summer was one of new experiences. Based in Washington, DC, IFPRI is a research institution that is founded on the goal of reducing hunger and poverty for people in less developed nations. My time at IFPRI was marked by the consistent attention given to my personal development, facilitated by Sivan Yosef, the Program Manager in the Director General’s Office.
My duties included research, writing, and the development of a web resource for members of IFPRI’s Senior Management Team. I studied topics closely related to food security and development from a number of different perspectives. My first projects were literature reviews, in which I conducted extensive research into several key areas of interest for IFPRI. The first of these reviews was a study of similar organizations’ action plans and priorities in dealing with food insecurity; and the second, a more broad-based look into the fundamental issues challenging food security for poor farmers.
My assignments all gave me a greater understanding of hunger, food security, and development more generally. Before my internship I did not fully appreciate the strong links between fields like agriculture, nutrition, economics, and health. In fact, these interconnections all featured prominently in my research, reflecting recent trends in the development world. In July I was able to attend the introduction of the United Nations Development Programme’s first Human Development Report, Towards a Food Secure Future. This report was notable because it was the first of its kind to be released by the UNDP, and was also the first to strongly recommend scaling up efforts to improve nutrition by such a major institution.
This event was only one of the discussions that I was encouraged to attend by Ms. Yosef, an incredible opportunity afforded to me, and a measure of the flexibility of my internship. In total, I attended half a dozen panel discussions, lectures, and other such events during my time in DC, truly expanding my understanding of politics and development. As several of these events took place at IFPRI’s office, I was able to meet a number of panelists, including John Kufuor, the former President of Ghana, and Mwangi Kimenyi, Director of the African Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
Although knowledge of the specifics of my work may fade with time, certain elements of my internship left a lasting impression. As a U.S. citizen, and as the son of two dedicated and successful parents, it can be very easy to lose sight of the strains and stresses that others face every day. This insight, which became increasingly clear every day I spent in Washington, imparted on me a greater sensitivity to issues of hunger and poverty.
Without the Wellman Hill grant, and Ms. Hill’s generosity, it is certain that none of this would have been possible. Besides gaining better direction for my own future, I was happy to see that my work was directly contributing towards policy solutions that are reducing hunger across the world. I was able to work with dedicated and intelligent individuals, all of whom were committed to the aid of those less fortunate. For this experience, I am truly grateful.