Students Learn About Global Food Security at Expo Milano

NYUAD student Maitha Al Memari poses beside the United Arab Emirates pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.

A handful of NYU Abu Dhabi sophomores are among some 20 million people who have visited this year's Expo Milano 2015. The students traveled to central Italy as part of a collaborative partnership between the Career Development Center and two organizations in Milan: Microsoft and FUTURA Consulting.

What I Learned at Expo Milano

"Each country is playing a role." - Dana Al Alo

The theme for this year’s global event was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, educating the world about the importance of sustainability and promoting innovative solutions for the challenges of hunger and energy scarcity the world is now facing. Each country at EXPO had its own pavilion designed to represent its diversity and showcase efforts in farming, saving energy, and contributing to feeding the world. Some pavilions were really eye-catching: Vietnam's was covered with bamboo sticks, Ecuador’s roared with colors, and the one representing the UAE looked like a desert castle. Inside the European Union pavilion, short animated films were screened to show new farming technologies and efforts to end world hunger in a relatable way. The USA pavilion was famous for having the largest virtual farm at the EXPO. Each country had its own design, vibe, and ideas, but they all discussed one very important global issue. Being there was really inspiring.

"Technology is only part of the answer." - Jagan Narayanan Subramanian

As an engineer, I am the first to admit that the solution to our shared global problems does not depend on pre-eminence of the technology we strive to produce. It relies on how we are able to inject life into inanimate innovations, making them communicate and become a real part of people’s lives. Expo Milano 2015 not only paves a path for the common public to learn about and have a hand in the solutions for the global food crisis, but also conversely allows each country a platform to present its best technological efforts for the scrutiny of the actual people they are trying to help. It implies that the know-hows of agricultural technology is not reserved to farmers and the intellectual community but should be made available to all as it directly affects each and every one of us. This shift of focus allows us to view our differences as merely unique tools that we use to craft our own solutions to the identical problems at hand. Strip the Universal Exposition of its savvy technology, inimitable displays and enticingly disruptive innovations, and we are left with the crux of its existence – the emotional relationship we share towards each other.

"I learned about smart supermarkets. And I can't wait for Expo 2020 Dubai!"- Maitha Al Memari

My experience at Expo Milano 2015 was one of a kind. Aside from experiencing the Italian culture with our employer hosts Confcooperative, I learned a lot about the steps and precautions countries are taking in order to sustain healthy food for the future. The most interesting part of the Expo was the smart supermarket. 

It had technologies that would display nutrition facts and trace the product when you pick it up. We also absorbed a lot about initiatives by Confcooperative to help startup companies in Italy; initiatives that help motivate and inspire new ideas. This trip was very rewarding and I can’t wait until my country, the United Arab Emirates, hosts Expo 2020!