For the August 2016 interview in the Eye on Culture, the Office of International Advisement interviewed Hamid Habibi, our very first international staff interview! Hamid is from Iran and works as a specialist in our IT Department. He has been at Juilliard for about one year.
You are the first staff member to be interviewed in Eye on Culture. As a non-performing artist, can you tell us a little bit about what attracted you to Juilliard? Is your job different here than what you think it would be like at a traditional university?
I’m an IT engineer. But, my spirit is an artist. I love art and enjoy it very much. And also I believe Juilliard is heart of art. So, definitely my connection with Juilliard is because of art. Juilliard is the only place that when you are walking in the hall you can hear instruments and sing or maybe meet your dream artist coincidentally!
When you first came to the US to study, what part of US culture most surprised you? What took you awhile to get used to? Is there anything that you still struggle with?
I surprised with the diversity of its people. In Iran it’s all Iranians, but here you see so many different colors and cultures of people and so many different languages. I can say that I really like US culture but it took time to adjust myself with it. For example, we have comity in our culture. It is everywhere, in simple conversation in meetings even when you hanging out with friend’s. But you cannot see it here in US at all which I like it.
Many of our readers have never been to Iran before. What is the thing you miss the most about home? What are the biggest misconceptions about Iran?
I really miss my family and the food. There are a lot of misconceptions– some people think Iran is a desert with no modern amenities, which is not true. In fact, Tehran for example is a metropolis. NYC is closest to Tehran. For example, the public transportation, the population, the facilities, and resources… Iran is an old country with more than 3000 years of history and culture. It has beaches in the north and south, mountains, beautiful jungles, and diversity in climate.
What is your favorite thing to do in NYC?
NYC is my dream city and I think I can’t live in other places. I’m still exploring the city and enjoying it! NYC has huge diversity which I like it. There is variety of art, cultural and traditional events related all to countries in world. I’ve learned so much when I’m attending those events and it feels wonderful that I am meeting and talking to people from all over the world.
Prior to coming to study in the U.S., you had earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Iran and had been working in the IT field for a few years. What made you want to come to the U.S. to continue your education in computer science? Why did you choose the U.S. over other possible countries?
In the IT industry, definitely the US is the top edge of technology. You can learn and work with the newest technology here very easily. Also, the biggest IT companies in world (such as Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle) are all in the USA. In addition, top universities with excellent education systems are in the US.
For all of our non-techy readers, can you explain, in laymen’s terms, your role as Information Technology’s Server Administrator?
Juilliard Office of Information Technology offers various services for students, staff, and faculty. All those services are running on the servers and we have over 100 virtual, cloud, and physical servers. My responsibility is take care of these servers in different areas such as availability, security, and maintenance in infrastructure level. I also prepare servers for new projects and help design and architect infrastructure for different projects at Juilliard.
Do you play an instrument or have any experience in the performing or visual arts?
Unfortunately, no, I don’t play an instrument. I really want to and am planning to learn. “It’s never too late”.
If you had to choose a major at Juilliard, what performing art would you want to pursue and why? (If an instrument, which instrument specifically).
I really love dance programs here at Juilliard and I wish one day I could pursue it. I always follow and see their performances. I really enjoy when I’m dancing and its look like for few minutes I’m completely disconnected from the world and just dancing. I have some information about traditional dances from Middle Eastern countries and learned more about modern dance when I started to work at Juilliard.