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Exploring Cultural Roots and Gaining Expertise in International Economics

photo of george

George Gao
MA ’18
Energy, Resources and Environment
First Year: Hopkins-Nanjing Center
Recipient of the Michael W. and Christa Gubener Percopo Fellowship

Prior to his time at Johns Hopkins SAIS, George worked at the Pew Research Center for three years, where he wrote articles on public opinion, demographic, and economic trends. Gaining this professional experience led George to apply to graduate school with two goals in mind: the first was to master his Chinese language skills, and the second was to become an expert in international economics. He was excited to find the perfect fit in an innovative program by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC), which combines an HNC graduate certificate in Chinese and American Studies with a Johns Hopkins SAIS Master of Arts degree.

George was born in Suzhou, a city just outside of Nanjing, though he moved to the U.S. at age three. One of the personal benefits of studying in Nanjing is that George has been able to better understand his family’s experience living through World War II, the Cultural Revolution, and China’s economic transformation. He’s currently taking classes on Chinese culture, history, and politics—all in Mandarin—from top professors at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Nanjing University.

This year, George and his classmates participated in China’s international commercial arbitration moot competition, known as the CIETAC Cup. (Commercial arbitration is a way for businesses, especially those based in different countries, to settle disputes outside of court.) The HNC team traveled to Beijing during Thanksgiving break and faced off against China’s best law schools. It was a fantastic experience, according to George, and he learned a great deal about teamwork, negotiating, and public speaking. The HNC team will continue honing their debate skills internationally next spring, at the Vis Moot competition in Vienna.

Next year at the Washington, DC campus, George plans to take classes on quantitative methods and economic theory. He hopes to utilize his research, data analysis, and language skills after graduation and work for a top international consulting firm.