Ciao, my name is Ariela. I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio. For as long as I can remember I have vivid memories of coming home from school and seeing my dad, dressed in a red and white apron, cooking in the kitchen. The smell of rice, cumin and cardamom would fill the house and distract me as I tried to get my homework done. At that point and until my second year of college, food was something that nourished my body and that I also happened to enjoy. I had not yet realized that it was actually possible to study food and have a career that would enable me to provide others with a similar sense of nourishment and enjoyment. My passion for food eventually led me to the perfect place to study it, Italy. Nestled in the northwestern corner of Italy, close to Turin, was the University of Gastronomic Sciences, where I spent three unforgettable years. From the philosophy of food to sensory analysis, from food processing to the history of agriculture, I was finally learning about food in a multidisciplinary way alongside others who were just as excited as me to be studying the complexity of food and food systems.
During my stay in Italy, I also had the opportunity to get to know and be a part of all sorts of food communities and gain a better understanding of how our food systems impact other areas of our lives: education, health and community empowerment. I learned about the power that food, more specifically food grown in a sustainable way that connects people to the land in which they inhabit, has on our lives.
I left Italy about a year and a half ago. I moved back to Cleveland in order to take all of the necessary pre-requisites to apply to medical school and gain more experience working in underserved neighborhoods in the Cleveland area. Through volunteering, I began to witness all of the obstacles that get in the way of those people who do not have access to the same resources as others. Lack of transportation, money, and education are just some of the causes of the illiteracy, malnourishment and violence that plague a number of the poorer neighborhoods in Cleveland. It was only this year when I realized that combatting these issues would be a lifelong journey.
It is my love for food and desire to weave together health, food and community that brought me to the Food and Health Network. I am so lucky to have found an organization that is engaged with various sectors of the community to foster a healthier and tastier environment for the region. I am looking forward to diving right into my position as an AmeriCorps Vista. I hope to become as integrated as possible into the Food and Health Network Community, and I haven’t a doubt that not only will I learn from all of you, but that you may learn from me as well.