By: Gage Smith, Agribusiness and Applied Economics | Racine, OH
I can remember sitting on the fender of my grandfather’s 1855 Oliver tractor as a young boy, the smell of the fresh plowed ground, and the countless stories my grandfather would tell me as we went through the fields. The stories he told seemed to not have any correlation, but they all taught me a lesson and a sense of coming together. The idea of storytelling is universal and I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana, Africa on an education abroad to research the traditional stories that are told in the Volta Region.
The research included working within the communities where the stories have been told for hundreds of years. We listened to storytellers in the villages, the storytellers have been told the same stories by their ancestors. The act of storytelling was much like how my grandfather would have told a story, it was a performance to intrigue you to pay attention and gain a lesson of values, and provided a source of entertainment for the residents of the village. The stories included interludes where the group would begin signing. The stories were almost always full of excitement and offered an opportunity for the individuals present to take part in the storytelling itself.
One of the many stories we listened to was about a young girl who disobeyed her parents and had to live out her life on a stone. The girls’ parents would visit her each day to bring her food and water, but one day the girl on the stone met her fate with a lioness. This story is told to children in the Volta Region to teach them the importance of listening to their parents and to obey authority.
Our education abroad research team was able to visit 5 villages and spoke with over forty storytellers. The importance of documenting the stories in Ghana is crucial for their survival; we saw that the stories are not being told on a regular basis as they once were, and the youth are not as interested and would rather watch television or use their cellphones for entertainment.
The short period of time that I was in Ghana I was able to fully immerse myself in the Ghanaian culture, learning much more than I would be able to from a lecture or a textbook.
Photo Credit: Dr. Nathan Crook
By: Meredith Myers, Food Science and Technology | Cincinnati, OH
If you would have told me as a freshman food science and technology major that five years later I would be entering the first semester of my Master’s degree in food science, I definitely would not have believed you. When I entered The Ohio State University in the fall of 2012, I simply saw food science as a fun undergraduate degree to pursue that also satisfied the perquisite requirements for medical or dental school, which were my ultimate goals at the time. However, after seeing all of opportunities that were afforded to me from being a part of CFAES and the food science program, I fell in love with the field and ultimately chose it for my career path, and I am so glad that I did. Throughout my undergraduate food science career, I have studied abroad in Brazil with Alpha Zeta partners, had two incredible internships at Synergy Flavors and Nestle Nutrition, served as co-president of the food science club, and met some amazing students and faculty who have taught me so much as well as pushed me to grow as both a student and person. Now, as a Master’s student in the food science department, I have continued to be blessed with even more amazing opportunities such as receiving the STEM scholarship sponsored by Monsanto. I am so excited to receive this award because it will allow me to begin my new food science journey in the field of research without financial burden. By pursuing a Master’s degree in food science I move one step closer to realizing my dream of creating delicious and healthy foods for people around the world, and I could not have done any of it without OSU, CFAES, and the Food Science department!
By: Benjamin Rubinoff, Environmental Science | West Chester, OH
Growing up in Southwest Ohio, the closest beach to me was an amusement park. However, family vacations and countless books and documentaries ignited my passion for marine life. I chose to go to The Ohio State University because I knew I’d be able to “get my feet wet” in research from the beginning. With my marine passion in mind, I have sought out internships and experiences outside of the classroom to prepare me for a PhD in Marine Ecology. After reading some scientific papers, I whimsically decided to email a researcher at University of California Davis to see if he needed any help with research. After a few phone calls and a visit, I was offered the position to work as an Undergraduate Laboratory Technician for Dr. Ted Grosholz at Bodega Marine Laboratory.
Conquering my 5-day road trip adventure, I made it to California in September 2015. I helped with a project looking at the effects of estuarine acidification on oyster growth and survival. Carbon dioxide can dissolve into surface waters, increasing acidity. This acidification, along with projected extreme weather events, has and will continue to be harmful to organisms, including economically important species like oysters. Working in Tomales Bay, CA, an estuary just north of San Francisco, I assisted with field experiments and data analysis that seek to better understand these complex changes. While the work wasn’t always glamorous (I measured thousands of oysters), I enjoyed helping with both lab work and data analysis. I even was able to help in presenting this project at two scientific conferences!
Hoping to complete my PhD at UC Davis, this experience gave me incredible networking opportunities. I was also able to reflect and grow as a person in my time there. Boating in 10 ft. swells, accidentally stabbing myself (instead of the oyster), and dealing with massive data sets tested my patience. However, I can proudly say that after returning, I believe my time out west further solidified my research and career goals. I will end this post with some unsolicited advice: the world is your oyster. Take a step outside of your comfort zone! You may just land a position working your dream job in one of the most beautiful places in the world.