Thursday, November 5, 2015

EcoGastronomy Dual Major Students Attend the World’s Fair in Milan

University of New Hampshire EcoGastronomy Dual Major students visited the World’s Fair in Milan, Italy this past week.  For the first time in its 164-year history, the world exposition has a theme: How to nourish a future world population of nine billion people (“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”).   The Milan expo confronts a daunting series of issues seen from many lenses. The common theme is awareness and being an informed participant in our food system.  

EcoGastronomy students were thrilled at the prospect of seeing the world’s ideas about sustainability and agricultural innovations that are changing the world's farming processes and cutting down hunger and malnutrition.  Some of the countries represented excelled at the theme, while others may have used the expo as more of a marketing venture, and some were very good at feeding you.

53 countries built unique pavilions to display their products, host events and more. The other participating countries set up spaces in groups by specific foods such as coffee, cacao, rice, spices and fruits, or by specific sub-categories of the Expo’s main theme, such as islands, the sea and food; food and nutrition in dry zones; or bio-Mediterranean.  The United Nations pavilion had the challenge to eliminate hunger in a world where so much food is wasted.   

From there the global ideas ranged from the McDonalds pavilion stating that it feeds more people a day than any other institution in the world, to the small scale Italian farmers of the Slow Food movement advocating biodiversity and the importance of regional and local products.  The Belgian Pavilion pushed the food envelope with an exhibit examining the notion of insects as food, a concept foreign to the western world.  I asked Alexander Harling, an Economics and EcoGastronomy student at UNH, who spent the summer as an intern at the U.S.A Pavilion, whether or not the Expo would push the sustainable food movement forward.  “Everyone that visited the expo got the message that there is a problem, and everyone needs to be at the table to discuss it,” remarked Alexander.

U.S.A. Pavilion Vertical Gardens

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Visiting the Disney World of Food - Milan Expo 2015

In a few weeks, our UNH-in-Italy students will be visiting the World's Fair in Milan, Italy.  After having interned at the fair for three months, Alexander Harling gave students an orientation on "seeing the world through the fair".  While 120 countries are represented, the perspectives on feeding the world is infinite or at least as many as the 20 million people from around the world expected to visit through October 30th.

Students marveled as Alexander explained that the fair brings together the "whole world and all its food scape variations".  Is the fair for gawking and staring at all the food and ideas represented?  Absolutely not!  It is for interacting with your fellow human beings while enjoying one of life's greatest treasures with them.  It's also about feeding our planet together, which is where EcoGastronomy students love to delve.

This is what Alexander recommends to get the most out of your experience.

LOOK ONLINE  to begin.  Check out the map.  It's huge!  Find out what's happening the days you visit.  Each country's pavilion has a schedule, so you definitely want to ask around to see if there's anything you shouldn't miss. You can subscribe to the USA pavilion's schedule here.  Every day there's events from Cirque du Soleil to Famous Chef Demonstrations.

TALK WITH EVEYONE Take your time.  Ask for samples!

ORGANIZE your day but be flexible.   Start at the "back of the fair".  When you go in through the main gate by the trains, walk all the way down Main St. (Decumano).  Think Disney.  That way it's less crowded.

MAKE SURE YOU VISIT Japan, South Korea, Qatar (All the Middle Eastern Pavilions are over the top) and, of course, USA!  USA has a rooftop terrace and cafĂ© with a stunning view of the Milan Expo grounds where you can get a good feel for the fair layout.

LOOK FOR FAMOUS PEOPLE Ha, ha! You never know if you'll see Beyonce.  

STAY LATE  7 PM there's lots of parties and 8:30 PM the restaurants open.  Ask volunteers and staff what's going on.

FRIEND Alexander Harling on Facebook and message him any questions.  He can also introduce you the the USA interns there.

If you want to stay longer than the EcoG trip, Alexander recommends looking NOW for a place to say.  Try airbnb,  make sure you read reviews.
Awww!!! I'm so excited for you!  Have a great time!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Thoughtful Perspective on Living Abroad by Alexander Harling

Twenty years in Durham, NH. A town I know all too well. I had no shortage of compassion for the area that raised me and is home to countless memories; but there was a growing spite for my familiarity and routineness that had my life.
Freshman year at UNH felt too close to a fifth year of high school. Same town, similar faces, the regular parties. Although I felt ready to leave and start a new life in a fresh town, staying was worth it.

 Two large suitcases and a backpack was all I had. Everything that was important and of value I was holding. The walls were white and bare. The bed was no more than a futon mattress, or as the French say, a “click-clack.” The room was empty except for the bed, night-stand and bookshelf. It would have felt lonelier when I first entered, but it was starting to fill with the countless possibilities and experiences that were surfacing with each passing moment.

I won’t say this has been the greatest time of my life. My life has been blessed with many amazing experiences. Albeit, this has most certainly been my biggest adventure. Life changing and perspective altering. Americans are quite sheltered. We are all blessed to be living in a free country full of countless opportunities. Our nation of 330 million is powerful and safe. Our shear largeness, occupying a quarter of the world, has made some of us blind to the rest of the world.
In comparison with the rest of the world, Americans take relatively short vacations.
Europeans believe it takes time, meaning more than a weekend to a week, to truly see a place. Marcel Proust, a French writer, once wrote… The journey of discovery lies not with seeing new places, but with seeing with new eyes. 

How long does it take to see? It has taken me four months and an absence of the culture I have known for 20 years.
To see new shores you have to look away from yours for some time.
I am five months in to my seven month journey. Thirteen countries and more to come.
Culture shock is not exclusively seeing unfamiliar things and being completely shocked. More often it is observing something unfamiliar, and learning how to understand its cultural importance as well as how it can be embraced.
Adjusting to French lifestyle was very difficult. Schedules and discipline are an important part of my life. Not every French person feels the same. Learning to adjust to French life was not just about me learning a new culture, but learning how to keep my values and understanding their practices.
Smoking, the late nights, and regularly drinking did not fit into my lifestyle. This is a big part of French culture. Eventually I realized these practices were just a part of the French’s passion for social life and leisure. After realizing this and learning how to participate, in a manner that matched my values, I began to see and feel differently. Comfortable in my skin. Ready to take on new challenges. More willing to learn. I was changing.
The US news commonly reports on a growing disdain for Americans. The western lifestyle and diet is feared. We appear to lack culture and tradition. American television and music are saturating foreign media outlets, eclipsing domestic art. I thought everybody hated Americans.
Europeans love us. Yes they are aware of the stereotypes. Our obesity rates, eating practices, and disappointing comprehension skills are well known. My roommates and I joked about all this regularly. What was shocking was how much the younger generations had embraced our culture. They viewed America as large and powerful. New and exciting. It was still the land of opportunity in their eyes. Everyone wanted to visit New York City or see the beaches of California. Some people were reticent initially coming out, but eventually their interest was expressed and wanted to talk and learn about the US.
Many Americans, including myself, when embarking on a living abroad experience, expect to immediately fall in love with the new area and to hate the culture that raised them. The opposite happened. I became very proud to be an American. With all the surprisingly kind words about our culture, I began to see home differently; even miss it.
People often say how small the world is. Relatively speaking and in the context of certain comparisons within our universe, us, the earth is quite small. I began to see things differently. The more I traveled, the bigger the world got. I kept learning about new places I wanted to see and meeting new people who had so many experiences and interesting stories. There is so much out there to be felt and seen. I had only experienced the tip of the iceberg.

The world didn't feel small; but more accessible. As though anything was possible. You could go anywhere. It was easy traveling to a nearby country only a few hundred miles away. I truly realized this after mustering the courage to travel to Asia. I decided to go to Vietnam and China. One of my greatest adventures. Humbling and eye opening. Visiting two communist countries will alter your life.
I am currently working in Italy at the World Expo in Milan. 20 million people are expected to visit. I interact with 100s of people a day. I am missing home but I do not want to deny myself the experiences and opportunities still happening every day.
There is so much to see and learn out here. For the first time I have seen who I am. Learned who I want to be. I will continue to travel and learn right up till when I head home in two months.
Traveling is valuable. Few people will contest that. The value depends on you. Opportunities are more apparent now. Challenges less difficult. My values have become more meaningful.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

(cue the trumpets) EcoGastronomy Dual Major at UNH 5 Year Alumni Update!

The EcoGastronomy Dual Major at UNH is delighted to share this five year alumni update.  We hope the stories of the EcoGastronomy Dual Major Alumni inspire you as much as they have us!  

Please take a moment to enjoy the EcoGastronomy Dual Major at the University of New Hampshire 5 Year Alumni Update of the May,  EcoGastronomy Dual Major graduated will number 84 from over 27 different primary majors at UNH.  The program's experiential, interdisciplinary and international tenants have had the favorable consequence of developing adventurous, entrepreneurial, and community minded individuals.  This is demonstrated by the impact they are making in the jobs and lifestyles they have chosen.  The alumni have also been generous in offering our current students mentoring, internship and job opportunities.

Three cheers for the alumni!!!