Illinois Ag Leadership Prepares for Travel Seminar in China and India

Feb 20th, 2012

Category: News

Illinois Ag Leadership Prepares for Travel Seminar in China and India

The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2012 participants gained insights into the important agriculture markets of China and India during the International Perspectives Seminar held at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) in Urbana/Champaign.

The February 9 and 10 seminar included 15 sessions that focused on exploring the economic, agricultural, and historical/cultural significance of these two large international trading partners.  The seminar is designed to prepare the 29 agricultural professionals for a trip to China and India in late February and early March to explore supply and value chains in those countries.

Over a two-year period the IALP class, a leadership education program conducted by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF), is attending 14 seminars covering current social, political and economic issues in the agriculture industry.  At the International Perspectives Seminar, the group heard about the history and traditions of China from Dr. Kai-Wing Chow from the History Department and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.  Dr. Eric (Er) Fang, from the University of Illinois’ College of Business, led a discussion on the economic perspectives of China.   College of ACES Professor Emeritus Dr. Burt Swanson discussed agriculture in China.

Ms. Mei-hsuan Chiang from the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois reviews common Chinese language with the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program Class of 2012.

Presentations on business etiquette and practical Chinese language were given by Ms. Lucinda Morgan of the Office of International Programs, U of I College of Education, and Ms. Mei-hsuan Chiang from the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies.  University of Illinois Instructor and IALP graduate (1984) Ron Warfield teamed up with Matthew Bennett of Bennett Farms, also a program graduate (2002) to talk about “Debunking the ‘Ugly American.’”

The first day concluded with a series of presentations by agribusiness professionals giving perspectives on marketing in China and India.  These presentations were given by Matt Jansen, Senior Vice President and President of Oilseeds Business Unit, Archer Daniels Midland, and on the IALF Board of Directors, and Jason Colwell, Director of International Business Development, GSI.  An evening dinner featured Dr. Robert Easter, Interim Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois and also an IALF Board of Directors member, addressing the group about the strong linkages between the university and the People’s Republic of China.

The Friday session focused on India with a presentation on the history and traditions of India by Ms. Dheepa Sundaram of the Univeristy of Illinois Department of Linguistics.  Agriculture in India was the topic of a speech presented by Dr. Prasanta Kalita, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, College of ACES.  Dr. Madhubalan Viswanathan from the College of Business gave a presentation on the economic perspectives of India.  Information on the Hindu religion, Hindi language and culture of India were presented by Dr. Rajeshwari V. Pandharipande, Department of Linguistics.

The Agricultural Leadership Group was invited to an afternoon prayer service at the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center in Urbana, followed by an overview of Islam by Dr. Irfan Ahmad.  Cross cultural business etiquette and practical language were presented by Dr. Mithilesh Mishra from the University of  Illinois Department of Linguistics.  The day concluded with an overview of international travel health and safety issues by Meredith Blumthal, Director, ACES Education Abroad Programs.

“China and India are extremely important trading partners with United States, and yet they are very different.  The contrasts are mind-opening,” said Joyce Watson, IALF President.  “It is important that our agricultural leaders understand how to conduct business with countries that comprise more than a third of the world’s population. The rich resources at the University of Illinois made this an excellent opportunity for learning prior to experiencing the countries first-hand.”

The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation was founded in 1981. It is a non-profit educational corporation under Illinois law. A board of directors, comprised of recognized leaders in agriculture and business, oversees the program.  Candidates for the leadership program are selected during a competitive application process.  Men and women 25 to 49 years of age working full-time in production agriculture or agri-related occupations are encouraged to apply.  Applications are now being accepted for the Class of 2014, which starts in September 2012. More information is available at

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