When Jiajing Chen completed her undergraduate degree in landscape architecture in her home country of China, she knew her next step would be to learn about the politics and procedures behind the urban planning process. And she was willing to travel for that knowledge.
Now heading into her second year in Dalhousie’s Master of Planning program, Jiajing’s education is coming with the added benefit of strengthening her relationship with her adopted city. Her summer job with the North End Business Association in Halifax, for example, has given her the chance to apply her knowledge to work that guides and benefits local planners.
“At the North End Business Association, I can learn the whole process of how people deal with business and planning issues,” says Jiajing, who adds that she enjoys the small office environment of the organization, which advocates for business and community initiatives.
“After my first year of learning, I’ve been able to go out into the public and know what’s going on, and combine what I’ve learned in class with what I’m learning in reality."
Forming a bond
For example, Jiajing says, the Planning program has developed her writing skills, which she has put to use this summer on projects such as a detailed analysis of the streetscape in Halifax’s North End.
Other initiatives she has been involved in include a streetscape workshop, the design of a North End Business Association brochure and the North by Night market, a monthly event featuring music, food and local merchants selling handcrafted items.
Jiajing credits the Planning department for helping her and her fellow students find practical ways to apply their skills. She connected with the North End Business Association and its executive director, Patricia Cuttell-Busby – an adjunct professor in Dalhousie’s Planning department – after posting her resume on the department’s job site.
Through her studies and her work this summer, Jiajing has formed a bond with a city she’s happy to call home for the foreseeable future.
“I want to devote myself to this society,” she says. “Halifax is a really cool society. There’s a lot of development, the weather is nice and the people are very friendly.”
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