JRF Scholar Spotlight – Chloe Benson

Personal Reflection:
“My time spent in Rome has been indescribable. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, but I am so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to live there as well. There is so much ancient and contemporary history to unpack, from the ancient Roman Empire to Mussolini’s Fascist Regime, and my studies there have given me a broader view of what it means to be an Italian citizen living in the Eternal City. Living in Garbatella among working class Italian citizens, I had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in Roman culture and interact with Italians in an authentic setting. I’ve was also able to interact with marginalized populations in the Ostiense area through my service work. Every other week, I would serve food to refugees and individuals impacted by homelessness in the area. The experience was extremely humbling and afforded me the opportunity to interact with an often-hidden aspect of Roman society.

As much as I love Rome, one of my goals for studying abroad was to see as many European cities as possible. I am happy to say, I was able to accomplish that mission as well. I traveled to Firenze, Tuscany, Paris, Tivoli, Malta, Brussels, Berlin, Positano, and Amsterdam. I was able to see Michelangelo’s David, relax by the harbor in Malta, and even visit the Ann Frank House.

While my studies and travels have provided me with life-changing experiences, I think the most impactful aspect of my time abroad was my internship at the International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD is a United Nations agency that works to end rural poverty globally. At IFAD, I worked in the Communications Division on the Content Development team. I was responsible for writing, editing, and producing content for our blogs as well as our corporate website, ifad.org. I assisted with research and proofreading for IFAD’s President’s speeches, and I even attended the Governing Council, interviewing a leading expert in social entrepreneurship and innovation. I had the opportunity to see the Pope in person while he gave an address to the IFAD executive staff, and I also attended the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum and several other Forums and learning experiences. My time at IFAD gave me a holistic view on the amazing work that rural and indigenous people do, especially women and youth. I am now extremely passionate about smallholder farming and rural innovation now.

To be honest, I was scared to travel all the way to Italy. I was terrified of the language barrier and being surrounded by people I had never met before. I took a leap of faith for the amazing internship opportunity and everything else really fell into place. I am happy I challenged myself because it was a challenge I could handle, even though I didn’t fully know it at the time. The support that JRF has given me over the past two years has been insurmountable, and without them, this experience would not have been possible. I am truly blessed to have taken part in this opportunity, and I cannot thank The Jackie Robinson Foundation enough.”

Scholar Name: Chloe Benson
Class: Junior (Class of 2021)
College: Villanova University
Major: Communication and Peace and Justice Studies
Grade Point Average (GPA): 3.97
Hometown: North Charleston, South Carolina
Sponsor: Strada Education Network