VERMILLION, S.D. -- An interest in nutrition and anthropology has earned Christina Bushinger a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to travel to Peru this summer and participate in an internship at Potato Park, a conservation organization dedicated to preserving native potato diversity and traditional agricultural knowledge.
Bushinger, an anthropology and international studies major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who will begin her junior year at USD this fall, is one of more than 1,150 American undergraduate students from 377 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.
Bushinger is studying on a USD faculty-led trip to Lima and Cuzco where she will take part in an intensive Spanish-language program and explore local Peruvian culture. At the end of the course, she will begin her month-long internship in Potato Park, a land reserve outside of Cuzco dedicated to preserving hundreds of varieties of native potato varieties and home to 6,000 indigenous Quechua who manage the land and share their traditional knowledge.
“I will be working at an office job promoting the concept of food as a basic human right,” she said. “But I’m sure I’ll be going out into the park and talking to the indigenous farmers about their practices and getting to know them.”
Bushinger said her interest in the connections between food, international development and poverty emerged from observations about the marketing of foods in the U.S. “You see a lot of fast food marketed but fruits and vegetables aren’t,” she said. “Just look at the basic pricing of things: hamburgers are $1 and salads are $8. It’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time.”
After earning her undergraduate degree, Bushinger hopes to join the Peace Corps and eventually earn a master’s degree in nutrition or the anthropology of food. Before leaving this summer on her first trip out of the United States, she was practicing the language. “I’ve been talking with my friends who speak Spanish, listening to podcasts -- basically, I’ve been living in Spanish,” she said.