International Spotlight: Shang Li

Which program/department are you in?

Policy Practice Concentration at Columbia University School of Social Work.

Which country (or countries) do you come from?


How long have you been in the U.S.?

9 years.

What is your primary area of study or research?

International Development and the Roles of the United Nations.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your program and your interest in International Development and the Roles of the United Nations?

At Columbia University School of Social Work, our curriculum consists of 4 classes + 3 days of internship every week. As a final year policy practice student, I chose to be on the international track. This combination means that I take courses such as Economics, Policy seminar, International Social Welfare, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Paper topics include International Education Policy and Genocide Prevention, UN Peacekeepers' Sexual Abuse and Exploitation & What can the UN do about it. As for my internship requirement, I am interning at the United Nations Development Programme this academic year. I aim to unite this valuable applied-learning opportunity with my studies. Ultimately, I hope to develop and implement innovative solutions by serving the developing world through international organizations like the UN.

Also, could you write a little bit about your experience in the U.S?

I love that the US education places a focus in extra-curriculum. English was one of the many first challenges I faced and singing was the most helpful solution. In high school, I sang in private lessons, chorus class, and the school choir. In college, I was able to continue singing in a voice studio in the conservatory while participating in choir. All of these experiences helped me to learn English in the most natural way: from pronunciation to literary analysis. I was also able to play tennis in high school and college in the U.S., unlike schools from China and Australia (where I had education prior). I think that there are two major benefits from tennis: 1) I could no longer procrastinate with homework and 2) I was able to formulate long-term friendship through a sport I love!

If you could give advice to a brand new international student (either new to Columbia or in the U.S. in general), what advice would you give them and why?

For international students who are new to the US, I encourage you to plan winter break, spring break and summer strategically. Whether to travel or to work/intern, it would be a well-rounded experience and I think that it's important to optimize our experiences outside of school.

Orange Divider
Question Mark

Are you (or do you know) an international student, scholar, or alumni?

We’re looking to spotlight stories of academic or professional work, leadership, or personal adjustment to life at Columbia and NY in particular and the U.S. in general.

Submit our nomination form and we'll contact you with the next steps!