Editor’s Note: Niladri Saha Saccha, a Bangladeshi student, embarked on a transformative journey at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter) in Fall 2021. As he approaches the culmination of his undergraduate studies in Materials Science and Engineering, he reflects on his unique experience as an international student in China.

From Bangladesh to China: a learning expedition across cultures

Niladri Saha Saccha’s story begins in the vibrant capital city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he was raised in a close-knit family that valued tradition and academic excellence. His exceptional performance at the European Standard School, graduating at the top 0.5% of his class with a perfect GPA, laid the foundation for his journey to study overseas in China. Despite having never visited China before, Niladri’s fascination with the country’s rich cultural heritage and its global contributions to sustainable development compelled him to pursue higher education at JI in the metropolitan city of Shanghai.

“I grew up in a joint family with my grandparents, uncles, and their families, which instilled in me a deep appreciation for familial bonds. While I had never been to China before, I was captivated by its diverse landscapes and the humble demeanor of its people,” said Niladri who regards himself as a jolly introvert.

Recognizing JI’s reputation as a top teaching and research institute of engineering, coupled with SJTU’s standing as one of China’s premier universities, Niladri saw an opportunity to immerse himself in a learning environment equipped with world-class facilities and resources.

Niladri takes a stroll on the SJTU campus.

Exploring a world of possibilities at JI

As Niladri embarked on his academic journey at JI in 2021, he was greeted by a supportive community of faculty and peers dedicated to his success. Encouraged by the blend of Eastern ingenuity and Western methodologies at JI, Niladri found himself in a world of endless possibilities. “The blend of Asian genius and Western technologies at JI, combined with SJTU’s serene campus and supportive community, made it the perfect choice for me.”

Beyond the confines of the classroom, Niladri discovered comfort in hobbies and things he loved to do outside of class. Engaging in volunteering services and sports activities, he embraced every opportunity to connect with the university people and the community. He is the Vice President of SJTU Students’ International Organizational Association (SIOA), the club that provides special lectures, and opportunities for students to work in international organizations around the world. He is in charge of the international division, and he loves networking with individuals willing to work harder globally.

A typical day on campus unfolds with a blend of academic pursuits and leisure activities. From early morning classes and discussion sessions to serene moments in nature-overlooking libraries, students like Niladri find solace in the tranquil surroundings of SJTU. Evenings are often reserved for sports events and social gatherings, fostering camaraderie among peers and enhancing the overall campus experience.

Niladri attends a corporate tour of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. in Shanghai with a delegation of JI students and employees.

Niladri joins a Chinese cultural tour with a group of JI international students in Hangzhou.

Striving for a sustainable future

As Niladri continues to navigate academia and personal growth at JI, he remains committed to leveraging his experiences and knowledge to make a meaningful impact in society. With a strong sense of purpose and a supportive community by his side, Niladri is poised to embark on a journey of lifelong learning and service to humanity.

Niladri has participated in various global governance and sustainability seminars and competitions, wrote research papers related to sustainable energy systems, and secured international research funding. Recently, he received a research fellowship offer from the National University of Singapore, inviting him to work along with some distinguished professors of the university in Summer 2024.

Niladri takes a photo at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) while attending a global governance workshop in Beijing.

Inspired by his studies at JI, Niladri is driven by a passion for manufacturing and designing Sustainable Energy Systems, with a focus on developing eco-friendly solutions to illuminate the lives of those living without access to electricity. He’s strongly optimistic about solar cell technologies, energy efficiency, and building affordable energy storage systems, keeping the energy policies of developing countries in mind.

Reflecting on his aspirations, Niladri shares, “My goal is to complete my studies at JI, pursue further education in an international institution specializing in Materials and Renewable Energy Systems, and apply my knowledge and skills to make a tangible difference in people’s lives.”

Editor on Duty: Tao Qingxiao

Responsible Editor: Jiang Qianqian, Li Xinyu