I’m Kaci Kennedy, a first year MID student from the USA.
I still remember my first time at Tsinghua – it was 2009 during a summer study abroad program through a partnership with my undergraduate institution, William & Mary. I stayed in one of the Zijing dorms, took classes in the C-building, and even experimented with some Tai Chi on the soccer field. The dongbeimen and wudaokao shops were my landmarks, as my Mandarin was, and still continues to be, a forever work in progress.
Only a couple of years later when exploring my senior thesis did I begin to dig into the extreme success story of not only China’s economic development, but of the many countries jumping in line to follow in China’s success in improving the human condition by moving up the ranks as a developing country. I’ve spent the past few years working in Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, working primarily in health in Africa and South Asia, but knew that as I was planning the route to begin my graduate studies, I had to return to my earlier interests in China and further explore its unique role in the development space. There is much to learn when we are living in history in the making.
When I discovered that Tsinghua not only has a development studies presence but also uniquely combines this traditionally isolated field of study with public policy and management, I knew this was the right fit for me. I’ve witnessed a divide in the development world, where practical and theoretical knowledge are not always connected. Joining together traditional development theory with MPA leadership training is a winning duo that will set its students up for success as future practitioners in development. This program also goes above and beyond to incorporate diversity of background and perspective among its students, and emphasizes the value brought by students from developing countries. I’m comforted in knowing our SPPM community will embody values of inclusiveness and connectedness – and I’m excited for the challenge to learn from my classmates who represent many countries across the globe.
SPPM’s collaborations with Chinese and international institutions place us in a privileged position to choose amongst prestigious research hubs to align with our studies and passions. I’m encouraged to hear of the successes of former students in their pursuits of internships and research during the school year and breaks, and the opportunities it afforded them when seeking employment post-graduation. My hope and challenge now is to leave Tsinghua as a global citizen and I believe I could make it.