The American University of Rome supports student endeavors to gain ‘real-world,’ practical work experience by offering internship opportunities every semester. Academic internships for course credit provide students with a practical way of relating their studies to their career interests.
James Capuzzi, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
ICCROM, Rome, Italy
This summer I interned with ICCROM spending most of my time with the resource management team under the Chief Management Officer's general guidance. It was a great opportunity to experience the inner workings of an international heritage organization as I was able to interact with various projects and professionals.
The role I played was in helping express the importance of ICCROM's conservation and heritage projects to an audience unfamiliar with the cultural heritage sphere, with a view to contributing to develop ICCROM's fund-raising marketing strategy and tools and assist the organization in building its case for support with government and private donors. I gained more understanding of the role that ICCROM plays in the world of cultural heritage while providing outsider insight into ICCROM's activities.
Tara Dourian, M.A. Food Studies
Rete Semi Rurali, Italy
After completing my spring term at AUR, my understanding of food studies expanded to reflect the multiple disciplines covered throughout the courses. Nonetheless, I felt particularly drawn to certain topics, such as agricultural biodiversity, farmers’ autonomy and their corresponding socio-cultural environment. I sought an experience that, in addition to a research, would incorporate a hands-on, field component. The chance to intern with Rete Semi Rurali—the Italian Farmers’ Seeds Network—was a well-matched, engaging opportunity.
Rete Semi Rurali (RSR) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization concerned with the support and restoration of farmers’ seed autonomy in the food system, through the protection of agricultural biodiversity. Gathering a network of over 40 national associations, RSR adopts a multi-actor and multi-disciplinary approach to conduct wide array of activities, among which include: providing political and legal support for the reformation of current national and international seed policy frameworks, raise awareness through the organization of regional and community events connecting farmers with other actors in the food supply chain, as well as coordinating various research projects across Italy and in collaboration with other European organizations. It was exciting to be immersed in field visits, to network with a multi-actor community and to contribute to research projects—experiences that I believe will help in building my career path and cultivating possibilities for future collaboration. Thank you, RSR!
Anjum Malik, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Public-Private Partnerships in the Cultural Heritage Sector: A Case Study of the Wazir Khan Chowk in Lahore, Pakistan
They say that those who have not seen the sights of Lahore may as well have not been born at all. A flourishing city that traces its origins as far back as 2000 BCE, Lahore presents a stunning vista painted with hues both ancient and modern that seamlessly blend together to create a diverse multi-cultural metropolis which continuously draws millions to its midst. Hailed as the 'Heart of Pakistan,' Lahore is not just a city; it is a vibrant and living culture embedded in deep folds of subcontinental history.
My research explores the present's endeavors to maintain the city's past through public-private partnerships. I specifically focus on the case study of the Wazir Khan Chowk heritage project: a 1.2 million dollar restoration and rehabilitation venture conducted on the iconic 17th Century Mughal Era town square nestled in a thriving commercial, residential, and religious area of Lahore's historic Walled City Enclave. My research investigated the perceived success of the heritage development project by examining two key factors: sustainability and community engagement. My data collection field trip in Lahore consisted of extensive meetings, interviews, and discussions with the officials of the stakeholder groups managing the project, which included the local government body called the Walled City of Lahore Authority, the private NGO called the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, and the cluster groups and community based organizations of the residents and businessmen in the Walled City Enclave. I also carried out frequent visits to the Wazir Khan Chowk, and data collection through informal conversations and Likert-scale questionnaires with the residents and visitors of the Walled City Enclave.
I able not only to observe the complex urban fabric of Lahore's historic city center and gain an in-depth understanding of the various perspectives involved in the Wazir Khan Chowk heritage project, but also to study the numerous social, economic, financial, environmental, religious, political, and psychological considerations that must be respected when executing a multi-stakeholder venture. Every stakeholder group I interviewed confirmed the importance of the other groups' roles in the successful management of the partnership, without which any hope of achieving sustainability and community engagement would not have been possible.
Chandler Wherry, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
My 7-month internship with Bioversity International allowed me to explore the topics of agrobiodiversity, neglected and underutilized species (NUS), and market intelligence systems. My primary goal was to conduct a literature review and produce a final report on my findings. The position was with the team involved in the IFAD-EU-CCAFS project, Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk. The project aims to build the capacity and strengthen the value chains of key, identified NUS in the three project countries; Mali, Guatemala, and India. It also gave me the support and connections to form my thesis topic. The research performed during my internship, as well as the expert advice I received from my supervisors was vital to the study. Overall, I had the opportunity to experience the daily operations and atmosphere of an international research organization and work among experts at the top of my field.
Beatrice Cioccoloni, M.A. Food Studies
I had an internship from November 2017 to March 2018 with Dall’Albero, the first Italian vegan cheese production site which adapts the traditional dairy production techniques to artisanal, plant-based and innovative cheese products. Working with this firm made me realize how connected the academic knowledge acquired thought the course is to the real world. I was confronted with the subject of entrepreneurship, through which I was able to use my skills in business development, startup design, innovation and strategy. Moreover, I was regularly faced with the core problems of our agri-food system. These include the issues and controversies regarding sustainable, organic and fair-trade certification; the differences between small and large firms; and the nutrition transition, shifts in consumption and the rise of new sustainable and ethical diets. On a personal level, working with this firm confirmed and enhanced my passion for social entrepreneurship. I understood this is the field I want to work in the future as I now know that innovative businesses are one of the most valid solutions to address the issues of the global agri-food system and are one of the greatest assets to value creation.
Alexandra Kassler, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
Interning at Bioversity International was a great experience. For three months I interned with the Forest Genetic Resources research domain as a communications intern, helping the domain update their webpages and assist with the production of other communications materials. This internship helped enhance my communications skills and provided me the opportunity to work and be trained in a professional environment for an international organization. For a younger Food Studies graduate student, this was an indispensable experience! Being able to work from the communications side has allowed me to gain a different perspective and given me an idea of what a future career in an international research organization could be like.
Vy Tran, M.A. Arts Management
Frutta Gallery, Rome
In summer 2017, I had an internship at Frutta, a gallery of contemporary art offering an international program, located in Trastevere, a lively neighborhood in central Rome. There were always many visitors coming to the gallery. More importantly, I was interested in the artists exhibited at Frutta – among them, Dickon Drury and Bedwyr Williams. Frutta is a young established gallery, which has attended many significant art fairs such as Liste and Art Basel. During the internship, I gained insight into how an art gallery works and learned about how to set prices for artworks and the process of setting up a new exhibition. Working in an art gallery was a stressful yet very exciting experience. Frutta, in particular, is a casual and international workplace. The internship was eye-opening for me and has taught me that managing a private gallery is a demanding job that involves physical, technical and intellectual work, also related to digital media. A small to mid-sized art gallery is a dynamic environment that requires a lot of multitasking and communication skills plus the abilities to be organized and patient, to listen to others and to work under pressure.
Lia Schifitto, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Santanoni Preserve, Adirondack State Forest, New York
I worked this summer from Early June to the end of August at Camp Santanoni and Santanoni Preserve in the Adirondack State Forest, located in Upstate New York. To get to work, I had to hike or bike 5 miles each way to the historic site.
I gave daily tours to the public of the historical interpretation of the 1893 Main Camp, a beautiful rustic home built with Japanese architectural influence, facing Newcomb Lake and Santanoni Mountain. I also worked with the two other interns on restoring windows from the 1919 Farm Manager's Cottage. We sanded, re-glazed, and painted the windows. We then attached them back to the house.
Lastly, I planned an event at the site's farm complex, to engage children in the history of the site. We played I-Spy and made homemade ice cream as well as planted vegetables to take home.
I received wonderful experience in not-for-profit historical architecture preservation working for Adirondack Architectural Heritage. I also gained experience in public land management working at a site owned by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
I also used my experience for the writing of my Thesis, which focuses on the Western dominated narrative of heritage in the Adirondacks.
Rose Robitaille, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
While undertaking my studies at the American University of Rome I simultaneously completed an internship for the organization Bioversity International at their headquarters, located in Maccarese, near Rome. Within the broad discipline of food studies, the relationship between diversity and food security has emerged as one of my topics of concentration. Therefore, I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to work with an organization that specializes in biodiversity research. Bioversity International is a global research for development organization working to provide scientific evidence, management practices, and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity for global food and nutrition security.
The internship objective was to compile a policy analysis for the use enhancement of local agricultural biodiversity in Guatemala. This analysis was undertaken as part of the project called “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition” funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and European Union (EU). My internship was supported by the Healthy Diets and Sustainable Food Systems Initiative at Bioversity International. The focus of the project is to enhance the production, use, and commercialization of neglected and underutilized species (NUS) to support climate change adaptation, strengthen food security, nutrition, and incomes of resource poor communities in Guatemala, India, and Mali.
Kelsey L Connors, M.A. Arts Management
NERO Magazine, Rome, Italy
My internship at NERO Magazine has proven to be excellent. Going into the job, I had a hunch that this industry would be ideal for me and I am thrilled to report back that I have found my career and my passion. Tasks as an intern of the magazine have been curated to my particular talents and interests. My first project was to review all summaries of the art books sold through NERO publishing (which are typically in English) and to edit them to sound uniform and poetic. Additionally, I translated pieces for their quarterly magazine from Italian to English. The largest and most rewarding project that I worked on is a mixed-type book by sculptor and writer Ludovica Carbotta, half-artist’s book, half dystopian-fiction piece: The Shotgun, The Invisible Rail and The Spectacled Tyrant. I was the main editor for this piece, and I’m very proud to say that my name is going to be listed with my colleague Sara’s under editor on the book. It’s been really cool to see this book develop into a finished product from start to finish.
This experience has made it clear to me that I am meant to direct my knowledge gained as an art professional in this degree towards editing and the fiction side of the arts. I am especially pleased to add that I will continue to work with NERO beyond my internship as translator, consultant, editor, proofreader and general English expert. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to have this experience, combining my great loves: books, writing and art.
Melanie Banks, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Centro di Conservazione Archeologica, Italy
AUR grad students find going to the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica a unique experience on many levels. Beautiful and iconic works of antiquity have been brought back to life by Roberto Nardi’s award winning team and the location of the Centro in a renovated 13th century Franciscan monastery in the Apennine hills is stunning. The food is pretty good, too! Summer 2017 was Melanie Banks’ turn to experience life as an intern at the Centro:
“As an intern under the tutelage of Roberto Nardi at the CCA, I received first hand on-site experience in conservation practices. While working alongside the student program that CCA runs annually to train students entering the conservation field, I was able to further my interests in practicing conservation in the lab and in the field during a rewarding internship. The main goal for my internship project was to create a narrative on the summer program through student interviews and on-site work. In interviewing alumni of the program and working alongside the summer 2017 students on conservation projects, mosaic treatment and archaeological excavations, I learned first hand about their experiences, their future goals and their diverse educational backgrounds. With the goal of creating a website and developing fundraising campaigns and tools for student scholarships, I was able to further the goals of CCA in training future generations in cultural heritage preservation.”
Zachary Reif, M.A. Food Studies
Katchkie Farm, Kinderhook, New York
My internship with Katchkie Farm has been a wonderful way to tie together my personal interests in food, with my formal education at AUR. In the almost four months I have worked for the farm, my responsibilites have rapidly increased. In addition to working as part of the CSA (community supported agriculture) distribution team, I am the farmers market manager at two different market locations. I am also the writer and editor for Katchkie’s weekly newsletter: an informative e-mail that is received by over 3,000 recipients. The e-mail highlights various ways to use your CSA vegetables including storage tips and recipes. I have loved my time with Katchkie—it has provided a unique experience to round out my education as I look forward to my professional career ahead.
Victoria Rose, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
From November 2016-May 2017, I was a part-time intern for Bioversity International as a part of the Healthy diets from sustainable food systems initiative. Within this initiative, my work was related to the project “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk”. This project focuses on enhancing production, utilization, and commercialization of neglected and underutilized species (NUS) as a method to adapt agriculture to climate change and improve food security and nutrition, while also enhancing incomes in rural communities in three countries: Mali, India, and Guatemala. In each country, two NUS are being targeted for agronomic and market research. These NUS were identified as target crops based on research of traditional crops being used by the rural poor in these countries, and included the following: Bambara groundnut and fonio in Mali, kodo and kutki millets in India, and chaya ad tepary bean in Guatemala. In order to achieve the goals of this project, a holistic value chain approach is applied which involves inter-sectoral initiatives to enhance supply and demand through techniques such as enhanced seed quality, improved cultivation and processing practices, and targeted marketing and awareness raising about these crops, as well as changing cultural attitudes and beliefs towards cultivation and utilization of the crops.
My work for this project involved developing six briefs promoting each of the target crops. These briefs were to include information on the general features of each crop, nutrition value of each crop (including anti-nutrients), stages in processing and challenges (including possible nutrition loss at different stages), and traditional recipes incorporating each crop. I was also responsible for conducting a literature review on agronomic, economic, and nutritional properties of the crops, and constructing food composition tables for each crop. In addition, I transferred the information gathered from the briefs onto webpages on the NUS Community website, and designed separate webpages for each of the six target crops.
Henriette Seibert, M.A. Arts Management
Ermes-Ermes Gallery, Rome, Italy
I was overjoyed to be offered an internship position at the Ermes-Ermes Gallery, facilitated with the help of my program coordinator, Cecilia Canziani. The gallery Ermes-Ermes is a very special space in Rome and one That I was not familiar with - it is still a very young gallery, founded in 2015 and is not located with other galleries in the city center. For my first task, I assisted the gallery owner, Ilaria Leoni, with the application for the Artissima 2017 art fair and learned, among many things, how to use Indesign to put together a portfolio for the application. In the second week I was located at the gallery that was running a show created by Ilaria and the artist Nick Bastis. I was required to thoroughly research the background to the exhibition in order to explain its vision to visitors. This was a little challenging because most of the articles about the exhibition were in Italian, but it was a good practice for me to learn the language. I really enjoyed showing visitors around and talking with them about the art on display - this really helped me improve my personal communication skills and learn how to make the artworks more interesting to a potential buyer. Additionally, I had to perform administrative and other business-related tasks in the office, such as adding or editing contacts for the mailing list and updating the website. I am very pleased to have completed this internship, especially with Ilaria and this gallery that have become very important to me and exposed me to many practical aspects related to managing a small, private art gallery. This was a very exciting and helpful experience that I think I will benefit from when I open my own gallery in the future.
Collier Lumpkin, M.A. Food Studies
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
For the spring of 2017, I completed an editorial internship in the Integrated Production and Pest Management division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Under the supervision of department staff, my AUR colleagues and I worked on crafting content and editing collaborators’ inputs on the Innovative Markets for Sustainable Agriculture guidebook, with a publication date slated for late fall 2017.
We spent the spring researching innovative models in agriculture for organizing, pricing, advocating, and packaging, amongst many other things, across the globe, with a concerted focus on finding examples of exemplary ideas created and produced in the global south. We worked extensively with collaborators from Uganda, Philippines, Colombia, and Tanzania, to name but a few, to create content that highlighted productive, novel global practices that support farmers as they transition from subsistence growing toward entrance in the global economic marketplace.
Throughout my time at UNFAO, I also attended numerous sessions, workshops, and lectures, and presented to a group of American Study Abroad students focused on food policy in the global landscape.
By the end of our internship, we had completed 10 out of the 12 originally slated chapters, and were working towards an all-contributor editing session in Havana, Cuba in late fall of 2017. After said editing, the guidebook should be complete for publication soon thereafter.
Julianne Calzonetti, M.A. Arts Management
Rome Reports News Agency, Italy
Since arriving in Rome at the end of August 2016, the ultimate goal was to find work in/ or with regards to the Vatican. This feat was first achieved in January 2017, when I accepted an internship position with Rome Reports TV News Agency, a digital media outlet specialized in covering Vatican City, situated next to the Holy See Press Office.
The job consisted of three main elements: conducting interviews, translations, and voice overs. As a correspondent, it was my responsibility to find the latest and most interesting stories, contact the person with whom I wished to speak, and schedule an appointment that best suited our schedules. Once confirmed, I would then inform one of the cameramen on hand, and they would take and accompany me to my interview.
It was an incredibly challenging time, and one that showed me now only many ways to network, but also what I was looking for in a job, and what type of media platform I liked best. The experience was valuable and will certainly be useful in guiding my future work search.
Susan Boohaker, M.A. Food Studies
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
During the Spring 2017, I had the privilege to intern at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquartered in Rome, Italy. Alongside with courses taken at AUR during the spring semester, I worked for a total of 150 hours in a span of five months on a guide for innovators who are creating sustainable local food systems in developing countries. The finished product will be handed out to practitioners who have a heavy hand in the sustainable agriculture movement in developing countries; so being a part of this process at the FAO was fascinating. Not only did I learn how sustainable agriculture is implemented in countries of need, but I was able to directly apply my working knowledge of sustainable food systems from the classes I took at AUR.
Ren Cao, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Rome, Italy
The internship I completed with Bioversity International has given me the opportunity to explore many different areas of study, including environmental policy, food, and livelihood. As a member of the External Engagement Department at Bioversity International, my primary duty was to undertake a desk review that profiles and helps identify candidate city-rural regions (up to 100km from the city) in the southern and northern Mediterranean suitable for a proposal to develop cross border alliances that promote business and small and medium enterprise (SME) development through strengthening of networks and value chains and food system diversification, nutrition, and environmental health. My day-to-day work has involved everything in the office from drafting a policy paper based necessary candidate regional data to developing a comprehensive proposal focused on Bioversity International’s role and strength in using the agro-biodiversity index to improve local livelihood resilience in the identified candidate regions in response to changing rural-urban migration pattern. These data have been reported to the internship supervisor regularly and preserved for drafting Bioversity’s submission of proposal for the ENI-CBC “Cross Border Cooperation” policy program for strengthening cooperation between the Northern and Southern sides of the Mediterranean Sea. During this internship experience, I have learned quite a lot about the international research institute and the practical research experience that will help me succeed in future academic and professional experiences.
Nicholas Mascia, M.A. Food Studies
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
Interning at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was an integral part of my graduate degree. The position, which I attained because of AUR’s relationship with FAO, allowed me to apply, question, and expand what I was learning in the classroom at an organization whose main mission aligns with core elements of the Food Studies Master’s Degree. When deciding on a graduate degree program, I searched for an opportunity that would allow me to use my undergraduate studies of business and finance to work in development in poorer areas, specifically those defined as rural and agricultural. The internship gave me access to a team whose assignments were exactly in the field in which I wanted exposure. The RuralInvest team at FAO created a toolkit that is meant to be used to identify, prepare, evaluate, and monitor investment projects in rural areas. The toolkit is available to governments, NGOs, and private organizations worldwide who wish to use it. My role on the RuralInvest team was to help the group further develop and fine tune the toolkit by testing the software, and enhancing training materials. My time and work at FAO gave me unparalleled experience with key professionals in the world of rural development and improved my understanding of what action is being taken globally to alleviate rural poverty.
Alyssa Thiel, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, Washington, D.C.
In Fall 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to intern for the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) as part of the requirements for the Sustainable Cultural Heritage MA. I worked closely with the Program Coordinator for SCRI on the backend logistics for two conferences hosted by SCRI in Washington, D.C. last October. One conference focused on the formation of a Syrian Cultural Heritage Center in Istanbul and the other was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation sponsored meeting to address concerns about cultural heritage preservation during disaster situations domestically in the United States. Culture in crisis both domestically and internationally, is one of the areas of focus that I have pursed in my career since graduation, so this was an incredible experience.
I worked remotely with cultural heritage professionals around the world to coordinate travel arrangements, manage the attendee list and provide information for the attendees. In October, I went to Washington, D.C. to prepare for the conferences and assist and coordinate day-of logistics during the conferences. I had the opportunity to meet the scholars and professionals from around the world that are currently in the cultural heritage field making a difference. This experience was essential for me, both professionally and personally, and one I would never have had, were it not for American University of Rome’s Sustainable Cultural Heritage Masters program.
Currently, I am working for Princeton University as the Campus Collections Assistant for the Princeton University Art Museum. I work with the art located on the Princeton campus writing content for the website, taking photographs and working with well-known artists on new commissions for campus. I also work in the Art and Archaeology Department, primarily with the archaeology archives. In this role, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with both Monuments Men archives and photographic archives documenting sites in Syria. I am also working on projects with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on culture in crisis in Syria.
Bethany Eigenfeld, M.A. Food Studies
World Food Programme, Italy
For the internship course of the Food Studies Master’s program at the American University of Rome, I had the opportunity to work at the World Food Programme headquarters. My contract was with the Market Analysis team of the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) unit, however I have also had the chance to work with the mobile VAM unit (mVAM) on some of their surveys as well as on my Master’s thesis. The most fulfilling experience of my internship thus far has been a migration study conducted by the market team with the help of the mVAM team, especially as parts of the study were very helpful and relevant to my thesis. The migration report done by VAM helped to provide evidence of food insecurity as being a key driver of international migration and refugees. It also established links between armed conflict, food security, international migration, and refugees. Understanding the effect of conflict on food security has been where I have directed my studies at AUR, making the opportunity to work with the subject in a professional setting an amazing turn of events. The main recommendations that came out from the migration study done during my time at WFP were to continue research into the food security of countries with high amounts of refugees and migrants as well as to further development of understanding the links between conflict and food security. In terms of my program at AUR, these recommendations have fit very well into the research I have done throughout my studies and for my thesis. And last but not least, I also had the exciting and rewarding opportunity to participate in a FAO session to present the focus group discussion section of the migration study I worked on during my internship.
Noble Sullivan, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.
During the Fall of 2016, I was fortunate enough to have interned at the Smithsonian Institution's newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. I was also lucky to have overlapped with my dear friend and fellow AUR Graduate Student, Alyssa Thiel. I worked directly under Elaine Nichols, the Museum's Senior Curator of Culture and was able to experience the Museum's first few months; it had just opened about a week before my arrival.
My experience was ever-changing, as I was tasked with conducting research and being somewhat of a Private Investigator. On the research front, I had to find out as much information as possible concerning a group of funerary items that had been given as a donation to the Museum prior to its opening. In this capacity, I had access to the Smithsonian's vast inter-departmental database, as well as to the Library of Congress. My other responsibility involved locating key personnel who had been involved in procuring and transporting the funerary items. This work was important because the Museum needed to do its due-diligence in uncovering the provenance of the items.
My work consisted not only of sifting through dozens of documents, including newspaper articles, emails, and scholarly works, but also making calls to various Cultural Heritage Professionals, local historians, and even radio personalities and graveyard tour guides. I followed up on every lead, no matter how small, came to numerous dead-ends, and utilized outside-of-the box methods, like checking for tax documents, marriage records, and other seemingly counter-intuitive items that eventually led to breakthroughs.
At the end of my internship, I had created a 16-page dossier for the Museum, covering a diverse network of information. As Cultural Heritage Professionals, I believe it is our duty to tell the stories of objects, so that they are not simply relegated to glass cases. The MA in Sustainable Cultural Heritage prepared me to think on my feet, to leave no stone unturned, and to respect the history of different cultures; the program showed me how to be sensitive and steadfast in representing cultures in a comprehensive way. The opportunities for Cultural Heritage Professionals are varied; the skills we learned in the classroom translated directly to my day-to-day work, from the theoretical principles discussed in Dr. Higgins' class, to the practical skills we developed in courses like Heritage Tourism, or the courses that partnered with ICCROM and the CCA. AUR offers a unique forum that has opened up possibilities beyond what I had initially considered.
Theresa Lonetti, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International. Italy
My internship at Bioversity International gave me first-hand experience in applying to real life situations the lessons learned during the M.A. Food Studies program on development, policy, agricultural practices, and research methods. The internship tasks consisted of reviewing literature and landmark publications on conservation and sustainable use of on-farm conservation and participatory plant breeding in order to provide a report on background and context, methods and approaches, advantages and disadvantages, main achievements, barriers and constraints and future opportunities of these practices.
This internship was focused on various issues discussed in the Food Studies program including: the projected growth of global population to 9 billion by 2050, the SDGs eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030, the fundamental ideas of climate change adaptability, equity, biodiversity, agricultural practices, and using a bottom-up approach of partnering with small farmers to ensure adoption and resilience for a sustainable increase in food production for a more food secure future. It was important for me to see that all of these topics discussed in the program’s courses are at the center of international organizations like Bioversity, thus proving that the Food Studies program at AUR provides students with the tools to be knowledgeable and useful in the context of global international development.
Rita B. Pacheco, M.A. Food Studies
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
I had the valuable opportunity to do an internship with the Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). My main tasks included reviewing draft documents of training materials, which would eventually become publications. I also developed an analysis on food logistics. This internship opportunity strengthened my conviction that poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition issues are no longer exclusively rural concerns; they are serious urban developmental problems that need to be addressed by country authorities and development agencies worldwide. In order to achieve FAO’s three main goals: eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, elimination of poverty and the pursuit of economic and social progress, there has to be an improvement in food systems and food consumption patterns, among other factors.
Lu Settembrini, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
Visitor Trends on the Via Francigena in Lazio: My Internship at the Regione Lazio, Rome, Italy.
I was excited to intern at the Regione Lazio. It was my first chance to be part of a governmental institution abroad and the perfect opportunity to put my Master's coursework in Sustainable Cultural Heritage into practice. But like most experiences, the outcome was different than I had imagined.
The internship was under the Cultural Heritage department. My specific role was to research and collect any demographics on pilgrims walking on the Lazio tract of the Via Francigena pilgrimage. My tasks consisted of finding and listing any hostel registers that recorded information on pilgrims / walkers, the numbers, sex, nationality, age, group size, mode of travel, length of journey, motivations and so on. From the data collected, I then had to identify the relevant fields to create a data-based standard model for data collection on the pilgrims / walkers in Lazio. This culminated into a standardized pilgrim questionnaire that I created for the Lazio Region to distribute to stakeholders (businesses, hostels, churches) along the Via Francigena as a starting point for a unified method of collecting standardized data.
The role of my internship was created and defined uniquely for and by me along with my supervisor. I had imagined that I would be more of an aid for current projects but we built an active internship from the ground up, which means that I had a lot of independence and self-management. I felt that one of the unexpected outcomes of the internship was becoming a community liaison between those working at the hostels and local spaces in the communities and the Regione. I was able to use my student status and youth to gain trust with most community members who generally do not trust or like most governmental institutions. In that context, I think that the best part of the internship is how we found a solution for bettering the relationship between state institutions and the public through a third party, a student. This created the foundations for future AUR student interns interested in valorizing the territory of Lazio to reach out and strategically work with the Regione Lazio.
Christina Kae, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
The internship I have completed was through Bioversity International in the nutrition division. I first heard about said internship through an email that was circulated by American University of Rome’s Food Studies program director, Maria Grazia Quieti. I was extremely interested in working for Bioversity International as well as conducting work that was close to the context of the classes I took during my time obtaining my undergraduate degree. This was due to the fact that I was extremely interested in the topic and wanted to focus my thesis and future endeavors in the realm of improvement of diets/nutrition.
Bioversity International stood out to me when the director general came to a visit at the American University of Rome and conducted a lecture for the faculty and staff. The fact that the organization focuses on improving environmental conditions while improving diets and looking at the biodiversity that was already present in the area fit in with how I sought to address the issues of food insecurity, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. Bioversity International’s headquarters are stationed here in Rome; however, they have offices across the globe. This includes Europe, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The organization’s initiatives are focused on a number of key topics including: healthy diets; farms, forests, landscapes and genetic resources, and their research portfolio addresses a wide variety of issues including: adaptation to climate change, agricultural ecosystems, banana genetic resources and management systems, conservation of crop diversity, diet diversity, forest and tree crop diversity, markets for diverse species and policies for plant diversity management. The experience that I have gained from this internship is incredible; to be able to learn more about myself and my abilities in research and in the workforce are worth more than I can imagine. This worth cannot even begin to include my understanding of the way that the CGIAR centers in particular operate, along with the knowledge gained on how programs are brought about, implemented and reported. Having established connections with lead researchers in the field of my current and future interest is something that I cannot put a value on as well. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that I have received from the American University of Rome and from Bioversity International. I can only hope that I will take all the lessons that I have learned with me in all my future endeavors.
Giulia Tufano, M.A. Food Studies
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Bangladesh
The internship which I had the fortune to undertake was at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. My overall impression and thoughts on this experience are very positive. This internship enriched me both personally and professionally, and I am very grateful to the University for having made this possible. I feel that the possibility of the “hands-on” experience in a Master’s degree is essential and can only better and reward you. Some of the achievements obtained through a series of main and minor tasks during this internship include making contact with some of the principle investigators of Microcredit research projects at BRAC and the world-famous Grameen Bank, which I could not have achieved if I had been in Rome. The main and most valuable achievement, however, was the two-week field trip that I had the fortune to participate in to the largest slum in Dhaka, the Korail Slum. I was often saddened by the poverty, which is so evident. I will never forget the terrible conditions that these poor people are obliged to live in. I was able to actually see with my own eyes the terrible and sad conditions of poverty that still exist there, not to just read about it in books and newspapers. This experience reinforced my desire to work in a humanitarian organization in the future.
Elinor ZE Brett, M.A. Food Studies
Un Development Programme, NUPRP Headquarters, Bangladesh
The National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme (NUPRP) is a large-scale United Nations Development Programme project that aims to ensure that rapid urbanization in Bangladesh is inclusive and results in better livelihoods and living conditions for poor urban residents. My internship with NUPRP involved assisting senior members of staff in project tasks, contributing to a report about livelihoods interventions and authoring a paper about the importance of food security as an aspect of poverty reduction. I also accompanied international consultants on fieldtrips and sat in on meetings with donors, NGOs and municipal leaders. The internship was a valuable learning experience in which I was able to witness first-hand how large-scale development programs are conceived and organized. Dhaka was a challenging environment to work in, but it was highly rewarding to apply so many of the skills and concepts learned during the MA in Food Studies to real life project tasks, and to have the opportunity to engage with my colleagues and the communities with whom they work.
Kathleen Fantozzi, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
I interned at Bioversity International who, alongside their partners, are developing a tool to generate insights on consumer preferences and acceptability of better quality diets when compared to current diet composition. The tool aims to close a gap in the understanding of the convergence between what people want to (or currently) eat and what is healthy for them to eat, i.e. diets that meet nutritional recommendations for both adequacy and moderation for micro-nutrients and to achieve recommended proportions of energy, carbohydrate, fat, and protein. My role was to prepare background literature related to drivers of consumer choice and consumer choice theory to inform the development of the consumer acceptability tool to be tested in Ethiopia and Vietnam. I hope this internship leads to a future job!