BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Holy Trinity Catholic student is becoming a Chinese “Shíxí shēng”…or intern over the summer and will be studying agriculture centered around the Chinese mainstay Báifàn… or rice.
Junior Wyatt Hellman was notified last month that he was selected after a rigorous application and interview process to be one of 24 students selected to participate in the 2019 Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program. The program is associated with the World Food Prize organization, a group Hellman is familiar with.
Back in April of 2018, Hellman participated in the World Food Prize one-day event in Ames and as a result of his project on water scarcity in Algeria, he was invited, again through an application and interview process, to participate in the Global Youth Initiative, a 3-day event in Des Moines.
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“Actually this was kind of on my radar and I heard about the whole World Food Program because of this. A kid from Danville I knew through swimming mentioned it to me, and that’s how it all got started,” Hellman said Tuesday afternoon.
Now Hellman will be heading to China sometime in June for an 8-week all-expenses paid internship where he will work in a lab and out in rice fields with the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha of the Hunan Province of southeast China.
The Intership program began in 1998 with just two students and has grown to the now-24 interns who will be studying at renowned institutions and other Non-governmental organizations around the world.
Hellman said he’s not worried about potential language barriers, but the food might be an issue.
“From the impression I’m getting, there might be other college students there so I’m not not too concerned about the language because I’ll have a mentor and most people there will speak English at some level,” Hellman said.
“But the biggest concern is the culture difference and the food. I’m not sure how I will get accustomed to the food.”
He said the opportunity should open up big doors in the future.
“I’m really excited to, potentially anyway, learn some of the baselines of their language because if I can get that down, I would think that would benefit me down the road.”
The internship is fully paid for and Hellman would only be responsible for clothing and any travel preparations.
He said he hasn’t really discussed the internship with anyone associated with the program and isn’t exactly sure what the internship will entail other than he will be sleeping in a dormitory and he be working in lab doing science research related to agriculture and rice.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing exactly, but I’m pretty sure it will be in a laboratory setting and will probably involve some field work as well.”
Hellman said he will be doing a weekly blog about his experiences during the internship and will be sharing that blog with people back home.
Wyatt is the son of Paul and Julie Hellman of Fort Madison.