The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2020 participants recently broadened their awareness of social, political, trade and cultural issues in Kenya and Israel. The “Ron and Melanie Warfield International Perspectives Seminar” held February 6 -7, 2020, included presentations by faculty and staff from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other speakers with expertise in those locations. This particular seminar, endowed by Ron and Melanie Warfield of Gibson City, Illinois, focused on Kenya and Israel as they will be the destinations for the Class of 2020 during its International Study Seminar in late February and early March.
The “International Perspectives Seminar” began with remarks from Erez Cohen, Executive Director of Hillel Jewish Center on the University of Illinois campus as he discussed engaging and understanding Israel and its culture. The seminar then focused on the inner workings of trade and agriculture policy by Dr. Nicholas Paulson, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs, Department of Consumer and Agricultural Economics (ACES). Dr. Paulson served with the Trump administration and spoke on his experiences.
The Class of 2020 enjoyed a Hebrew lunch, followed by a presentation from Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of the Chabad Center on the University of Illinois campus as he discussed the Hebrew faith. His presentation was followed by Dr. Liat Maggid, Visiting Assistant Professor in Jewish Culture and Society. She led a teleconference presentation on the history of Israel from the ancient world to modern-day. The afternoon seminar concluded with a presentation on the language and customs of both Kenya and Israel by fellow Class of 2020 member Ellen Kamps.
The first day of the seminar ended with a dinner presentation given by Ron Warfield, sponsor of the seminar and IALP Class of 1984 alumnus, about the importance of reaching out to others and serving around the globe. The reception and dinner was sponsored by the Timmons Family and held at the Champaign County Club. Both Jay and Will Timmons are graduates of the agricultural leadership program.
The second day of the seminar began with comments from Dr. Peter Goldsmith, Professor, and Director, Food & Agribusiness Management, Department of Consumer and Agricultural Economics (ACES). He presented to the class on the prospects of soybean development in Kenya and its possible impact on agriculture in that country. Keeping the focus on Kenya, Dr. James Brennan, Associate Professor, Department of History at the University of Illinois gave an in-depth look at the history of Kenya to present day with a strong focus on the political landscape that has shaped the country post World War II.
The Class then went off campus to visit the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center in Urbana. The class heard from Dr. Michael Dann, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Illinois and Dr. Irfan Ahmad, Former President and Board Member, CIMIC and U of I faculty member. The Class of 2020 heard a presentation on the Islamic faith and attended a Friday Prayer service at the Mosque to give them a true experience in understanding Islam.
Lunch on the second day of the seminar included traditional African cuisine, as the class traveled to downtown Urbana to dine at the Stango Restaurant. The Ron and Melanie Warfield International Perspectives Seminar concluded as the class returned to campus for a final primer on travel tips and safety by Rachael Dean, Coordinator for International Safety and Security at the University of Illinois.
The IALP Class of 2020 will begin its International Study Seminar on February 22 and return on March 7th. We look forward to an informative and life-changing experience for our fellows.