Ag Voices: Daniel Alvey participates in I-CAL Program

by | Jun 20, 2012

N.C. State student Daniel Alvey stands in a Vietnamese rubber tree plantation, one of several agricultural stops as part of the I-CAL program.

Daniel Alvey, a participant in our Ag Voices series, was one of 12 college students chosen to participate in the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council. He recently returned from a two-week agricultural education trip to Southeast Asia. He sent us this post about his experience.

After finishing my sophomore year at N.C. State University, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to Southeast Asia with a group of 12 college students from across the country.

The International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) Program is a program offered through National FFA that sends students abroad every year to learn about international trade, grain marketing and agriculture on a global scale. This year’s program allowed us to visit Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, and the U.S. Grains Council had an amazing itinerary planned for us as soon as we arrived.

Traveling abroad made me realize how fortunate we are to live in America and opened my mind to new cultures and job opportunities. Great things are happening in Southeast Asia, but we are truly blessed to live in the States. There are areas of the world that do not enjoy a safe and abundant food supply that many of us take for granted every day.

Traveling also opened my mind to possibilities for future careers. We met with representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Foreign Agricultural Service and members of the U.S. Grains Council on many occasions. Each time, they shared stories about their careers, which sparked my interest in traveling.

I am still unsure about what I want to do after graduating from N.C. State, but my time in Southeast Asia definitely added new possibilities to my list.

One of the hardest questions to answer when I returned to the States was, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” I had a blast in every country we visited, so limiting it to one experience was close to impossible. Instead, I shared a top 10 list that each of us compiled at the end of two weeks in Southeast Asia.

1. Seeing Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from the 86th floor of the Petronas Towers.

2. Meeting with representatives of the Foreign Agricultural Service in Vietnam and Malaysia.

3. Spending the day jet skiing, snorkeling and swimming in the Indian Ocean on Pankor Island in Malaysia.

4. Experiencing new cultures in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

5. Traveling with 12 great people from across America.

6. Learning about the importance of international grain marketing.

7. Gaining a new appreciation for American agriculture.

8. Crawling through the Cu Chi tunnels used by the locals during the Vietnam War.

9. Attending a reception for the U.S. Grains Council’s 20th anniversary in Southeast Asia.

10. Learning about the importance of relationships in the global agricultural market.

Click here to read more posts from Alvey and the other 12 participants on the National FFA blog.