The interdisciplinary nature of Pitt's IDMA is what attracted me to the program. Being able to work with faculty in multiple departments helped me broaden my knowledge on China and East Asia in general. During my term in the IDMA, I took courses in the East Asian Languages and Literatures, History, History of Art and Architecture, and English departments. Faculty members in all departments were very accommodating to the needs of IDMA students. Pitt also provided a lot of support for research and language study abroad. I also had the chance to do directed study in the East Asian Library of Pitt's University Library System, which led to an employment opportunity after graduation.
I graduated from the IDMA program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. The professors and staff in this program were all very supportive. I not only achieved my academic goals, gained experience teaching Chinese to American students, but also made several lifelong friends. It is a very worthwhile experience. From 2012 to 2014, I worked in the headquarters of a British education group in Shanghai, China, with job responsibility on college counseling, business development, etc. Afterwards, I started to work on an entrepreneurial project, and co-founded an independent K-12 bilingual school in Shanghai in 2015. In 2016, I started my Ph.D program in Shanghai International Studies University on cross-cultural management. And now (2018) I am a visiting graduate researcher in University of California Los Angeles through the Fulbright Program.
The IDMA program provided me with the opportunity to review and restart my academic career. The platform of this program is open to multiple options: I was not limited in established curriculum in my preconceived field but was able to interact with scholars from a variety of departments with different disciplinary focuses. This was a story about rearranging resources and opportunities, a process that places emphasis on my own agency to find things, make things happen and change things. Now I have made it by changing my academic field from literature and film study to contemporary Chinese art. My experience in cross-field study still benefits me at the doctoral level.
My two years in the IDMA program instilled in me the knowledge and skills to conduct research in the field of East Asian studies. My experience now helps me to pursue further studies in my PhD program. In cooperation with different disciplines, the IDMA program offers the opportunities to learn in various fields, including cultural studies, films studies and history. Also, in association with Asian Studies Center, IDMA provided me various funding opportunities that could support research projects, ranging from language studies and travel funds to tuition remission scholarship. It was extremely important for a self-financed international student like me to get financial support throughout my study.
Moreover, the advisors and faculty in the program were always helpful and passionate to give students academic and friendly support. These two years were precious for me because I learned so much from people I worked with, but more than that, most of them became my life-long friends and mentors. I came to the IDMA without any academic experience, but after two years, I not only learned a lot about East Asian culture and society, but also I am able to continue my PhD program at New York University. I deeply believe that with the training in the IDMA, a young academic can gain precious experience and learn from the best.
Taranee Yuning Cao
Not only did I have an opportunity to pursue something that I am interested in, but I also broadened my horizon by taking courses that focus on other topics, which helped me build a solid foundation for future career. In addition, the program provided me with a platform to familiarized myself with teaching styles and ways of thinking in graduate schools in the United States. Even though the program only lasted for two years, I received warm, useful, and detailed guidance from professors, especially my supervisor. Without the help of my supervisor and this program, I would not be able to realize my dream to pursue a PhD degree at Stanford University.