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Returning to Penn State and the United States

This is how I was where I first lived in the United States in 2011 – lean and young.

After taking few years off, I am back at my alma mater– Penn State. I still have vivid memories of when I first landed in this country back in August of 2011 to get my master’s from Penn State. I had a great deal of anxiety and excitement as it was my first time abroad. Until then, I had never been away from my country and grew up with people who spoke my language and looked like me. Continue reading »

Desert in Bloom: The Incredible Story of Agriculture in Israel

A man holding tomatoes

Paudel in an Israeli research farm where scientists are working with various kinds of tomato cultivars.

Before I visited Israel, all I really knew about the country was its conflict with Palestine and what I had heard about their advanced agricultural practices. I traveled to the country with a group of two dozen international participants as part of an agricultural course. Like myself, when they thought about Israel, they mostly focused on its holy city of Jerusalem and the struggle with Palestine. But during our trip, we learned that the region is more than just a battleground. Continue reading »

Sundar Soodar: Experiences from a trip to far western Nepal

two women in village

As thousands of young people move to cities or leave the country entirely for better job opportunities abroad, they often leave behind villages with mostly old people.

Escaping the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, where I live, and going out to villages is always fun for me. And as one of my friends used to say, “You can breathe when you go out [of Kathmandu].”

Recently, I had the opportunity to see some parts of the far western area of my central Asian home, a part of the country that is considered the most remote and most underdeveloped in the nation. I was not disappointed: It was an amazing experience, and by no means just another trip. Continue reading »

Oman – a country where tradition and modernity blend together magically

The VT Oman Team

From left to right: Khaled Hassouna (VT), Ashok Saproo (head of construction, Bahwan Group), Ahmed Al Balushi (OTE), Van Crowder (VT), Ms. Bushra Maimani (UBT), and Karl Markgraf (VT) outside the UBT office in Muscat. (Photos by team member Gene Ball, Virginia Tech.)

Today’s post comes to us from Van Crowder, the Executive Director of the Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED).

Until the 1970s, Oman was one of the more isolated and traditional countries in the Gulf region. Rugged mountains and vast desert plains cover much of the country. It has one of the hottest climates in the world, and receives little rainfall. Although vegetation is generally sparse, perennial fresh water springs emerge from rocks to create lush green valleys (wadis) where dates, melons and oranges grow. Continue reading »