#IncomingElliott: Yihong Zhang

Yihong Zhang, wearing a blue shirt, tie, and trench coat, stands in front of an academic brick building with columns. Yihong Zhang, M.A. European and Eurasian Studies, 2024, #IncomingElliott

Yihong (Peter) Zhang is an incoming Master of Arts in European and Eurasian Studies (EES) student at the Elliott School, concentrating in areas of Russian and Eastern European studies.

Yihong received his Bachelor of Arts degrees in international relations and Russian from the University of Rochester in 2022. He is particularly interested in the cultural and political scenes and has been working to become a region expert over the years of his undergraduate studies. He has translated Soviet Russian films like The Burglar, The Soul, and Tsoy, into English and worked with professors to help other students better understand Russian cultures. He decided to go directly to graduate school to dive deeper into the EES program in hopes of learning and contributing to contemporary issues surrounding Russia and Eastern Europe. Yihong also enjoys playing the violin, traveling, and immersing himself in different cultures.

What made you interested in the European and Eurasian Studies Program? 

I started off as a Russian student at my undergraduate university. As I got more into it, I grew more and more interested in Russian culture and its relationship with the rest of the world. With the EES program here at the Elliott School, I can study the region I’m most interested in, deepen my knowledge of this specific area, and set up a path for my future career.

What skills do you hope to pick up or further develop at the Elliott School?

Here at the Elliott School, I would like to further develop my area knowledge, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, dive into their cultures, and hopefully become an area expert, which is very hard to come by in other graduate programs. In addition, given the great opportunity of being in the capital of the U.S., I hope to get more work experience while trying to apply what I learn in class to practice.

If you could have anyone in the international affairs field serve as your personal mentor through grad school, who would you pick and why?

If I were asked to pick a mentor from the Elliott School, it would have to be Dr. Kimberly Morgan from the EES program. She is very approachable, kind, and a very respectful person.

On the other hand, if I were asked to pick anyone from the international relations field all over the globe, I would have to pick the former chancellor of Germany, Mrs. Angela Merkel. She was able to deal with all kinds of problems faced by Germany or the EU, balancing everything on her plate and uniting her people. All this was very respectable and definitely a feat by her hands. Given the current world situation, I would definitely love to learn from her.

If you could recommend one city outside of the U.S. that people should visit, which city would you recommend and why?

The one city that is perfect for taking a break from everything, getting your mind out of school and stress has to be Chengdu. It is the perfect place for food, fun, and peace of mind. Not only renowned for Szechuan food and encounters with cute, cuddly pandas, but the city’s premises also hold some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. So whether you’re looking for a fun food/culture adventure or just trying to relax and empty your mind, Chengdu is definitely a great place to visit. (The city should pay me for this)


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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.