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Charice Stroud

Study Abroad Student Spotlight: Charice Stroud

By Denise H. Horton
University of Georgia, Office of Global Programs


Your first study abroad participation was a trip to Uruguay over spring break of your sophomore year. How did you settle on this opportunity?

When I came to UGA my freshman year, I began to consider who I was going to be here. I got involved in several clubs and activities and through word of mouth I met Carolina Robinson, who was the CAES Study Abroad coordinator. She talked to me about the program and emphasized that scholarships were available to help with the expenses.

What was that experience like?

The program was specific for agricultural business and agricultural economics majors with an emphasis on grain and beef production. Because Uruguay exports most of its grain and beef to the European Union, there are a lot of regulations and quality control requirements that must be followed, so we learned a lot about that. We visited six different ranches and learned about everything from their beef slaughtering techniques to watching an artificial insemination demonstration and learning about how sheep farmers harvest wool.

You mentioned that you also ate a lot of beef.

In Uruguay you have beef at every meal. In fact, I experienced a bit of swelling from the combination of eating so much red meat and being at such a high altitude.

In 2015, you spent 10 days in Costa Rica learning about coffee production. Tell me a little about that experience.

Coffee is the second-most, legally, traded commodity after oil throughout the world. We learned about coffee production from the growing of the plants to harvest, roasting, cupping and all the other steps that go into producing coffee, but a lot of our focus was on the Costa Rican growers’ efforts to develop more value for their product. Currently, the coffee bean growers make relatively little money because they just sell the coffee “cherries” to others, who export it to other countries. Now, they’re focusing on differentiating their products and taking advantage of the tourism market.

Your first two trips were focused on the production and economics of agriculture. Over spring break, you’re headed to Scotland and a very different focus.

Yes, the Scotland trip is focused on food insecurity. We’ll be staying in Dumfries, Scotland, which has some similarities to Athens-Clarke County. It’s a developed area, but there are also a lot of people, especially children, who need access to food. Before we go, our class is conducting a needs assessment for schools in both Dumfries and Athens. We’ll use that information to develop a project for Dumfries that addresses some of those needs. So, for example, we might explore how developing gardening classes in elementary schools could benefit children in both Dumfries and Athens.

You had traveled internationally as tourist before you participated in study abroad. Is there a difference?

Definitely. Before study abroad, I was your average tourist. I had been to Frankfurt, Germany, and Barcelona and Madrid, Spain. In all of the areas I visited, the people I interacted with spoke English and the attention was really on me. When you study abroad, you’re not just there to enjoy the beach or the mountain view. You have much more of a sense that you’re living with the people of that country and you’re there to learn. You’re not there to trample on other’s views with your thoughts about how things are done in the United States. These people have perfected their crafts and you just humble yourself with all the things that you don’t know.

Last summer, you had an internship with Dow Agrosciences in the Chesapeake Bay area and you’ve accepted a full-time position with Dow that begins this summer. How have your study abroad experiences helped prepare you for your career?

These programs have helped me in multiple ways, but I’ll just mention a couple. First, I’m from the South. During my internship, I met with people from Maryland, Pennsylvania and other areas and some of them were hard to understand. My international experiences helped me communicate with people from different places. I know that people are what comes first; you have to build a relationship before you do anything else.

After spending 9 days in Costa Rica studying coffee production from bean to cup, you could call Charice an official coffee snob. She knows the growing practices, harvesting seasons and processing methods for the world’s second-most traded commodity – coffee! She even got to harvest coffee cherries, learn about the roasting process, and of course, drink some delicious Costa Rican café. Photo courtesey of Charice Stroud.