The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2018 participants recently broadened their awareness of social, political, trade and cultural issues in Southeast Asia, with specific focus on Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Taiwan. The “Ron and Melanie Warfield International Perspectives Seminar” held February 8-9, 2018, in Champaign 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 the three locations that are scheduled to be visited by the program Class of 2018 during its International Study Seminar in early March: Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
The “International Perspectives Seminar” began with welcoming remarks from Dr. Alex Winter-Nelson, Director of the Office of International Programs within the College of ACES at the University of Illinois. Jonathan Coppess, Law and Policy Instructor with the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, then spoke on domestic agricultural policy and its impact on international trade. Dr. Winter-Nelson then gave a presentation on “Economic Implications of Agricultural Transformation Abroad” to provide context for subsequent discussions and presentations throughout the seminar.
The Class of 2018 enjoyed a Vietnamese-style lunch on the first day, with an accompanying cultural presentation on “3,000 Kilometers of History from Coast to Coast” given by graduate student Ly Dinh, who is originally from Vietnam. Dinh provided her first-hand perspectives and experiences from her upbringing in the country.
Damien Ma, Fellow and Associate Director for Think Tank at the Paulson Institute, joined the seminar via videoconference and discussed “China’s Impact on Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Taiwan” with class members. Andrew Collum, Associate Director of Safety and Security with the Illinois International Programs Office on campus, then provided the class with a primer on general health and safety considerations for group travel in foreign countries.
The first day of the seminar ended with a dinner presentation given by Ron Warfield, namesake of the seminar and IALP Class of 1984 alumnus, about general etiquette and learning opportunities for Americans traveling overseas. The dinner was sponsored by the Timmons Family. Both Jay and Will Timmons are graduates of the agricultural leadership program.
The second day of the seminar began with comments and remarks from Dr. Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES. Dean Kidwell has previously presented to the Class of 2018 on values-based leadership, and followed-up with participants about their experiences since that presentation.
Dr. Karl M. Rich, Principal Scientist for Policy, Impact and Value Chains with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Hanoi, Vietnam, then joined the class via video conference (from his location in Hanoi) to discuss current issues facing pork value chains in Vietnam. That session was followed by another Vietnam-specific presentation led by Dr. Ken Olson, Professor Emeritus with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Dr. Olson discussed the Mekong Delta landscape and his research on soil types in Vietnam, in addition to his experiences during the Vietnam War. Mark Frank, a University of Illinois PhD candidate in the Department of History, then provided an overview of agricultural history and development in China and the Southeast Asia Region.
Lunch on the second day of the seminar included more traditional Asian cuisine, accompanied by a cultural presentation entitled “Discover Taiwan: The Heart of Asia” led by Philip Kuo, a University of Illinois graduate student originally from Taipei, Taiwan. Dr. Jeff Martin, Professor in the Department of Anthropology, presented on “How to Win Friends and Influence People in Greater China” during the afternoon. The seminar finished a presentation led by officials from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago. Mr. Robert Chang, Director, and David Dong, Education Division Director, provided class members with an overview of economics and culture in Taiwan.
“The International Perspectives Seminar provides a preview of the countries and locations that the class will visit during our International Study Seminar,” said IALF President and CEO Lee Strom. “The excellent faculty and staff at the Office of International Programs within the College of ACES provided an in-depth look at the emergent agribusiness landscape in this very important region.”