Parag Jyoti Saikia is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and recipient of the Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship awarded by The Graduate School. He hails from Assam, a state in the Northeastern region of India.
What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?
I wish to work on infrastructure of hydropower dams in the Northeastern region of India have found my advisor’s works very well suited for my interest, both in terms of region and theoretical approaches. The overall research done in the Department of Anthropology align very well with my interest. Besides, UNC, along with Duke and N.C. State, has several scholars whose work has interested me a lot.
What is the most different thing you’ve seen or experienced since being here in comparison to your home country?
Graduate student life in the United States is altogether a different experience than my home country. While it has been a great learning experience for me so far, I wish I was somewhat more prepared to divide my time among several things. I also found weather, landscape and public transportation very different than my home country.
What is something you wish you had known before moving here?
I wish I had better time management skills and I had learned driving.
Where is a place in your home country that every tourist should visit and why?
I would invite tourists to visit Assam and the Northeastern region of India, as it is one of the most beautiful but least explored places of India.
How will your Carolina degree help you make a difference in the world?
I wish to pursue a career in academics while being grounded in fieldwork, and I want to contribute towards better understanding of issues around hydropower, infrastructure and environment in South Asia. In this regard, as the oldest public research university in United States, a degree from UNC will greatly enhance my skills for academics and advocacy campaigns.