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April 24, 2017

Honors student travels world to research trade

Maryssa Pallis takes the “think globally, act locally” philosophy to a new level. This summer, she’s acting globally on an idea that she cultivated locally.

The FGCU junior was awarded a scholarship by the Naples Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and additional funding from the FGCU Foundation that will enable her to travel through five countries over 10 weeks to research global trade policies’ impact on regional economies and small family farms. The information Pallis gathers could shed light on potential disconnects among the stakeholders at a time when controversial deals such as the Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership are in negotiations.

Maryssa Pallis volunteers in the Food Forest.

It also will give her insight into the feasibility of taking global a grassroots horticultural program she began at the Naples Shelter for Abused Women and Children, which is the basis of her Honors College thesis. Pallis is a certified youth advocate at the shelter and spearheaded the installation of a permaculture garden there that provides therapeutic and culinary-training opportunities.

This summer’s globetrotting — which Pallis will chronicle periodically on FGCU360NOW.com —  continues research the political science major began in summer 2016 while studying on scholarship at the School of International Training in Switzerland.

“Through independent research and data collection while in Geneva, I found that globalized trade policy may pose a threat to regional empowerment-based policy programs such as the one I am currently introducing at the shelter,” Pallis wrote in her scholarship application to the Circumnavigators Club, an international organization of people who have traveled around the world.

During two weeks each in Peru, Italy, Greece, Singapore and Malaysia, the 20-year-old from Naples will interview regional trade experts, academic specialists and independent farmers to research how globalized trade policies are perceived by different stakeholders. The FGCU Food Forest veteran also will be WWOOF-ing it — working for free on farms in exchange for food, lodging and education through World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming (WWOOF).

Traveling alone abroad and securing meetings with key sources isn’t a foreign or intimidating prospect for Pallis.

“In Geneva, I had to navigate this world of bureaucrats and academics,” she says. “I truly enjoyed the invigorating experience of independent research, gained confidence in my ability to navigate these environments and left with a strong urge to continue growth as a scholar.”

Honors College Director Clay Motley believes Pallis possesses a combination of maturity, intelligence, flexibility, curiosity and passion that makes her uniquely prepared for the challenges she’ll face.

“There are very few undergraduate students at any university who could successfully carry out a 10-week research project while circumnavigating the world alone,” Motley says. “Maryssa has prepared for this project since arriving at FGCU by challenging herself in and outside of the classroom. She has significant international experience, is a leader on campus and in the community, and has developed a sophisticated research agenda and the ability to successfully pursue it.”