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Student Spotlight: Grad Go Local Student Leader

Headshot of Zihan Andrea Li

Headshot of Zihan Andrea Li

A Look Inside NYU’s Go Local initiative - Q&A with Performing Arts Administration Student Zihan Li

Zihan Li is one of over 350 Steinhardt students participating in Go Local in-person courses at an NYU Global Academic Center in Fall 2020.  Zihan, a graduate student in Performing Arts Administration, is from Baoding, China and is currently enrolled in Environment of Arts Administration and Introduction to Marketing at NYU Shanghai. She takes these in-person courses with other Steinhardt students in China along with remote courses delivered from Washington Square. Zihan serves as the cohort leader for Steinhardt’s graduate Go Local program and talked with us about her experience this semester.


What made you interested in participating in the Steinhardt Go Local course(s) at NYU Shanghai?

Even though I have traveled to Shanghai several times before, I mainly studied and worked in Beijing. So Go Local provides me a terrific opportunity to have an understanding of living and working in Shanghai and allows me to build my network here. Furthermore, after staying at home for almost 8 months, I was eager to meet and talk with new people. 

While in Shanghai, I have worked with multiple brilliant arts managers and producers during my internship in a for-profit arts organization, not to mention that I have known many interesting and talented classmates and professors. All of them have inspired me a lot, and have given me a memorable experience. 


What are some of your favorite aspects of the Go Local experience?

One of my in-person classes is Introduction to Marketing taught by Professor Theresa Loo. One of the things I really enjoy about the course is the case studies and practical experiences Prof. Loo uses from markets in China.  It enables us to have a more comprehensive understanding of the subject and apply it to the context in China.  I found the case study on the off-season strategy on Dunhuang is very interesting because it relates not only to the Chinese culture but also to arts and intellectual property development, a subject that we are also learning about in my other in-person class: Environment of Arts Administration. By making a full market plan for that case, we are learning market skills that we can use in the future.  

Both the main building and the WeWork  [NYU procured temporary classroom/study space to accommodate more than 3000 Go Local students] have a similar study atmosphere to that in NYC. When I walk along Century Avenue and Dongchang Road, which are surrounded by business buildings and busy workers, I can feel the sense of the real world. But the classrooms are quiet and peaceful, like a land of idyllic beauty. This contrast is interesting.


How are graduate students forming community at NYU Shanghai?

In China, we mostly use an instant message app, Wechat, to communicate with everyone. And every school and program has an academic Wechat group, through which students can share information, ask questions, and offer help. Students also set up several unofficial Wechat groups for recreation, such as sports and games. Those groups break the wall of distance so that students will not feel alone. 

In addition, I have contacted other Go Local cohort leaders that represent different graduate schools, such as Courant and Stern. We communicate regularly with each other and have held several student activities using Houseparty, a social networking app for groups, to provide more chances for everyone to be engaged.


What challenges do Go Local students face and how might NYU better address them?  

NYU itself is full of diversity and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, we do not have opportunities to fully connect with students from other countries. And sometimes we feel that we have been separated from the classes in the U.S.  So it would be helpful if the University provided more international faculty in Shanghai to increase the diversity of ideas and perspectives Go Local students are exposed to.  


What do you hope to do after you’ve earned your degree, and how has Steinhardt helped you advance these goals?

Before being admitted to NYU, I have studied piano performance and classical music for almost 20 years and graduated from the China Conservatory of Music. Then I was moved by the sense of accomplishment from the work behind the stage. As a result, I am currently doing my internship as an assistant producer while studying. I hope that I will be able to pursue my passion for show production after graduation, collaborating with various arts talents and theatres, and producing something meaningful in America and China. 

Steinhardt gave me a deeper understanding of this field and different art forms besides classical music. Especially through the alumni and professional webinars that Steinhardt has held for us, I have learned considerably up-to-date information that could lead me to a clearer vision of what is happening in the U.S. For example, some arts managers talked about how the art industry now looks like in America and what they have done to survive during the pandemic. Everyone is experiencing an uncertain time, but I can feel the hope and strength from those online conversations.