Jimmy GAO – Bai Xian Alumnus, 2017 cohort; MBA, Hitotsubashi ICS.  Originally from Anhui province, China, Jimmy’s passion for exploring different cultures steered him to the AFLSP, which ultimately led him to his current job and a creative cross-cultural project.

Fascinated by Japanese culture from a young age, Jimmy was thrilled to be selected as a Bai Xian Scholar to study in Japan.  While pursuing his MBA at Hitotsubashi ICS alongside students from all around the world, Jimmy learned about the multifaceted differences between various countries and regions while forming lasting friendships with his peers.  His experience also inspired him to promote mutual understanding between Japan and his home country after graduation.

Today, Jimmy is an overseas marketing manager of a Japanese fashion retailer, and believes that his AFLSP experience has prepared him well for this role.  “I see differences as opportunities,” he says.  “My goal was to be a bridge to connect China and Japan, and my current job allows me to do that and more.”  Jimmy admits, however, that it has not been all plain sailing, adding that being a foreigner in Japan has its challenges.  “It takes some time to understand Japan’s unique work culture.  In terms of fitting in, I’ve found that learning Japanese and being respectful of the Japanese culture help immensely.”

As a Bai Xian Alumnus, Jimmy remains an active member of the Bai Xian community.  At the 2019 Summer Program, he volunteered to moderate the very popular career panel, interacting with scholars, alumni, and speakers, and reconnecting with old friends.  During the year, he enjoys organizing BXAI Alumni Association events in Tokyo to connect alumni with current students.  “I have gained so much from the AFLSP so I always want to find ways to give back,” he says.  “I love sharing with the scholars, meeting different people, and making new friends.”

Jimmy is also a part of Ethnic Neighborhoods, a social project that highlights immigrant communities and stories through creative video content to foster cross-cultural understanding.  The team won the Alumni Initiative Award in 2019.  “Living in Japan and contributing to this project have allowed me to see the divisions that still exist in our world today, and further awakened me to the importance of mutual understanding between cultures,” he says.