#IncomingElliott: Adam Bubanich

#IncomingElliott: Adam Bubanich

Adam Bubanich smiles, wearing a dark blue collared shirt and a gray tie in front of some blurred buildings in Boston. Adam Bubanich, M.A. in Asian Studies, 2026, #IncomingElliott

Adam Bubanich (he/him) an incoming Masters in Asian Studies student at the Elliott School and is the Program Coordinator for the Sigur Center for Asian Studies. He was previously the Program Coordinator for GW’s East Asian National Resource Center (NRC). In May 2021, he graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Affairs and a minor in Chinese. While at Northeastern, he completed two co-ops; one at the Massachusetts State Senate and the other at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He also worked as a research assistant at Northeastern’s School of Law, where he spent time analyzing the evolving relationship between LGBTQ Cubans and legal state apparatuses. During his college career, he studied in China, Germany, and Poland, where he studied how states utilize museums to create certain narratives.

Is your grad program related to your undergraduate degree? If so, how?

Yes! I studied Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in Chinese at Northeastern University. While there, I originally intended to study Korean, but I pivoted to Chinese after taking a few classes. I initially was studying security issues, but I became interested in nationalism, history, and conflict after taking a class on nationalism. After taking a Chinese language-class on Taiwan issues, I became interested in transitional justice in Taiwan. In grad school, I want to combine those interests by studying the intersection of public memory of traumatic historical events, nationalism in China and Taiwan, policymaking, and Cross-Strait relations. In particular, I want to study the Mao Zedong Era, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the White Terror to understand how those events translate to a sense of national identity and how that identity and memory influences policy. I also have a strong interest in the experience of ethnic and sexual minorities in China and Taiwan. In undergrad, I researched the relationship between the Uyghurs in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), the Hui in Ningxia, and the Han majority. I was strongly influenced by the writings of Professor Gardner Bovingdon of Indiana University and Professor Eric Schluessel (who is at GW!). There is also a gap in research of China’s policy towards LGBTQ people, particularly the transgender community, that I am interested in learning more about.

What are you most looking forward to about grad school? What are you most nervous about?

I am most looking forward to being around other people that are interested in studying Asia and are determined to improve themselves. I think graduate school, and the Elliott School in particular, provides a really great venue to get to know other people who are or will become influential in their field. Of course, you don’t just get to know people on a professional level; you can also make friends for life and get to know people on a personal level. I’m also looking forward to learning! This sounds nerdy, but I love to learn new things and challenge myself. I’ve missed researching and writing. What I’m most worried about is balancing working full-time with being a student. It’s going to be a lot of pressure and I won’t have much free time. However, I know that other people do it and have done it before, so it’s possible! I will just need to make sure that I am able to properly balance everything and not stress out too much.

What 3 things would you like to be known for after you complete your program?

Personally, I think that while professional and academic goals are important, those things aren’t as critical as what others think of your attitude and character traits. I would like to be known in anything I do as a kind person that cares for others. While there are so many terrible things going on in the world, we should all be kind to each other and try to help others in any way possible. So, I want to leave the impression to other members of my cohort and professors that I want the best for them. I also want to be known as a passionate person and hard worker; I really love studying and learning, and I hope that comes across in the work that I do. I think it’s also important to be someone that others can rely on, either in a crisis or to get a job or project done. I hope that my peers and professors see me as someone who can always get a task done on time or can show up in a time of need.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program?

I chose to commit to the Elliott School for two main reasons. First, the Asian Studies Program at GW is, I personally believe, the best in the D.C. area. If you want to learn about Asia, this is the place to be. The faculty are top-notch, are well-respected in their fields, and really care about their students. I see this on a day-to-day basis while working at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies. The Asian Studies program is also very policy-focused and provides excellent opportunities for students to network and get to know experts across a broad range of disciplines, allowing them to get a job very quickly after graduation. My second main reason is that GW offers very generous tuition remission for its employees; if you are an employee, I highly recommend taking advantage of this great and unique benefit!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

This is a really tough question! I really want to travel across the world, but have never had the money or opportunity to do so. Right now, I really want to travel to Taiwan. I love going to different countries and learning about their cultures and histories. I work a lot with the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative’s Office (TECRO) in my day-to-day work and have so many great things about the island. Taiwan is very welcoming to the LGBTQ community compared to other countries in East Asia, so it would be great to visit there and hear about what struggles the community still faces. There are also so many museums and historic places to visit. I would in particular like to visit a night market and try all the delicious foods that they have to offer! I am hoping that during my Masters program, I will get the chance to be able to either visit or study in Taiwan.

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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.