By Tingcong Lin

Last summer, I participated in the 2021 HKU Summer Research Programme and was awarded a conditional offer for the HKU Presidential PhD Scholarship at the end of it. I would like to share my experience for the Alumni Magazine.

After selection and enrollment, the Programme provided the participants with eight weeks of intense research training together with some extra-curricular activities. We were each matched with a mentor—a faculty member at HKU—to guide us through conducting an individual research project. We also had to attend several seminars and workshops at which we discussed our work (often work-in-progress) with professors and other participants.

Besides the research project, a very interesting aspect of the Programme—from my perspective—was that it allowed us to experience, observe, and reflect on the modes and benefits of communication between people from different disciplines. In some academic activities, we were divided into groups, sometimes with professors and participants from completely different disciplines. Although the discussions were often too short to go into the details of our research, such cross-disciplinary—and thus comparative—dialogs helped us not only to find new ideas, but also to better understand our own disciplines and research. For instance, in a workshop, I discussed Orientalism using my case study as an exemplar, and received comments based on the theory of constructivism in international relations from a friend of mine who studies that field. His comments provided me with new insight into my argument from a political science perspective with an emphasis on ideational factors, especially those collectively held beliefs, which construct the interests and identities of actors. More importantly, his thoughts grounded in his disciplinary background helped me to see more clearly the emphasis and unique contribution of Orientalism—especially its elaboration on discourse—as a critical concept in literary and cultural studies, rather than one that was bound up with the political sciences.

My small achievement in the Programme would not have been possible without help from many people. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my MPhil supervisor, Dr. Otto Heim, for his constant and tremendous support and guidance, and to my mentor in the Program, Dr. Jessica Valdez, for her invaluable guidance and help. My special thanks also go to Prof. Kendall Johnson and Prof. Julia Kuehn, who gave me crucial suggestions during the Programme, and to the staff and my friends in the School and the University for their kindness and companionship over the summer.

Published on: March 31, 2022 < Back >