My name is Tuong Mien Nguyen. I am a fourth – years student at UC Santa Cruz. My major is Agroecology. This summer, I am studying abroad in Cuba for Agroecology Practicum.
I was a farmer in Vietnam nearly 15 years after high school to plant vegetables and fruits and connect with nature. As a farmer following climate change, I have cultivated plants using the agroecological method. Climate change is accelerating and severely impacts humans’ lives and other creatures. I am interested in studying abroad in Cuba this summer because this is a tropical country with the same equator as Vietnam. Therefore, I can learn agriculture experiences to solve problems about the weather, insects, breeds, etc. Then, I can have a view or solution for farms in Vietnam.
In addition, I will have opportunities to gain knowledge and experience about the efforts to create a more just and ecologically sustainable food system from the team of Cuban Agroecology leaders on farms and gardens across Cuba. The food distribution model I care about the most and will aim for is farms/farm groups that directly supply agricultural products to direct customers or farmers’ markets. Therefore, after watching the video of old students who joined this course last year, I felt excited and knew that it would be helpful for me to update and improve my knowledge about this field because the agricultural situation in Vietnam is the same as that of Cuba now. We are trying every day to improve it little by little. Focusing on agriculture, I actively monitor and participate in countless more in-depth sharing sessions on forest garden orientation, human positioning in nature, forest garden system design, design water system design. These I would like to learn on this summer course in Cuba.
In addition, I care about the indigenous agriculture that has cultivated our land based on traditional beliefs in nature. That is the foundation of love and protecting Mother Earth. In Vietnam, indigenous people live precariously on a fragile boundary; one side is the forest, and the other is the industrial society. Forest land in the Central Highlands in Vietnam is gradually disappearing because of the development of society; rich people in urban areas have been buying a lot of ground from indigenous peoples for monoculture farming, resorts, and urban development. Therefore, I want to understand how Cuba manages indigenous agriculture in this course. I hope to connect with agricultural managers to share knowledge and experience to solve general issues such as weather, justice, and sustainability in agriculture. Ultimately, I believe the agroecology program in Cuba will help to have a view of creating more agroecology community farms in Vietnam or any tropical country after graduating from UCSC.
The scholarship from Fund for Education Abroad is helpful for me to gain my goal in Cuba. That will support my airplane tickets and daily life of 18 days (about two and a half weeks) in Cuba. This scholarship also motivates me to continue focusing on my study and achieve my goals soon.