Riley Wilgenbusch: two unique experiences across the globe in one summer

October 22, 2019

Riley Wilgenbusch, senior in agronomy and global resource systems, spent his summer traveling the world. He visited Rome during May and through the beginning of June and then spent a week exploring central Europe. Riley then traveled to Uganda through the end of July.

Riley’s experiences in Rome and Uganda were unique and different from one another. While in Rome, Riley worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to evaluate sustainability concerns surrounding a global shift towards plant-based diets. He also had the opportunity to meet with the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies and the newly-appointed ambassador Kip Tom, presented to livestock policy experts. On a weekend trip to Tuscany, Riley also learned about agriculture in Italy.

Riley then traveled to Uganda, where he shadowed doctors and conducted healthcare observations in the Kamuli Mission Hospital. He also evaluated hygiene and sanitation facilities for clients of ISU-UP’s Nutrition Education Center where he then compiled a report for nutrition trainers on how to improve their practices. Riley ended his time in Uganda by teaching agriculture to 5th-grade students at Kasubi Primary School.

Riley found these opportunities through Global Resource Systems since they work closely with the CALS Study Abroad Office. They helped him choose which programs would be the best fit for him and his interests

“My favorite part of being abroad was getting to apply the things I’d been learning in classrooms to programs that are making real change in the world. Our research for the FAO has been presented a couple of different times and is being used internally by the FAO,” said Riley.

By taking these opportunities, Riley was able to define his future goals in furthering his education and then pursuing a career in international work. When applying for internships and fellowships in global health and developmental work, Riley’s experiences abroad have helped him understand what he is capable of and has provided him with comfort in new environments.

“Being abroad has also helped me recognize a lot of the challenges the developing world faces that we simply can’t understand living in the US. I am more deliberate in my actions and studies learning to apply information to issues I didn’t even know existed before my travels this past summer,” said Riley.

Riley described studying abroad as something that he believes everyone should experience at least once, but working abroad is what was completely transformative for himself.

“Even working in a developed country like Italy was vastly different than what I’m used to here in the US, but it enhanced my communication skills, cultural adaptability, and cross-cultural communication skills,” said Riley.

The cultural shock of going from eating some of the world’s best cuisine was a juxtaposition to traveling to Uganda for Riley, but the programs went hand-in-hand and reassured him that there are people throughout the world working tirelessly to find solutions to the problems we are facing as a global society.

“I worked with the Sustainable Development Goals from a research and policy side while in Italy, but I saw them in action during my time in Uganda. Bringing that experience full-circle helped me recognize areas where I can play a role in creating positive change in the world and has helped me refine my passion for working in healthcare across the globe,” said Riley.


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