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Where Are They Now?

20 April 2016

“I would be a completely different person; I wouldn’t be at Columbia today with a very international group of colleagues if not for this (school) experience.” NAIS Pudong Alumnus, PHD Student and Adjunct Instructor at Columbia University, as well as Exchange Student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jason Wong, describes his time at NAIS Pudong as fundamental to his achievements at university and as a researcher. He continues, “Going to international school gives you more sensitivity and cultural awareness, makes you better able to negotiate and better at working in groups.”

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Jason moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai in 2004 and into Year 9 at NAIS Pudong, experiencing for the first time an international school environment which, he says, truly broadened his outlook and sparked an interest in both economics and the environment. As one of the founders of the NAIS Pudong Environment Group, he organised a Green Day, complete with green Olympics and green “organic” food fair, the proceeds of which they donated to the extension of the Choco-Andrean Corridor Project in Ecuador and Colombia.

That passion for the environment, and economic solutions to environmental problems, saw him embark on a degree in Environmental Economics at Maryland University, with a second degree in Germanic Studies. The latter, he reveals, grew out of studying German at NAIS Pudong in Year 9, leading to an enduring hobby.  

Jason is undertaking his PhD at Columbia, with his dissertation focusing on aviation and the environment. He has previously taught at New York University and is also currently on exchange at MIT where he is working at the institute’s renowned aviation lab on a project looking at sustainability in the aviation industry. He has been invited to undertake the economic content of the research.

Ambitious to one day become a professor, Jason enjoys his role as Adjunct Instructor at Columbia and says teaching helps him to be a better researcher, encouraging him think about the fundamentals in a different way. As a teacher, he can see a clear gap between students who have studied the IB and those who have not. He explains, “The IB prepares you very well for university, and gives you essential skills you don’t get taught there…Critical thinking and well-roundedness is clear from an IB student”