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Patriot Profile: Xiaoyun Wu

By Damian Cristodero on November 2, 2015

YEAR: Doctoral Student

MAJOR: Criminal Justice

HOMETOWN: Yueyang, Hunan Province

Xiaoyun Wu, Graduate Research Assistant, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Xiaoyun Wu, Graduate Research Assistant, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. Photo by Evan Cantwell

The thing Xiaoyun Wu misses most about her native China is the food. It’s “one of my biggest challenges,” says the 23-year-old, who came to the United States two years ago to pursue a master’s degree. Sure, there are Chinese restaurants here, she says, “but the traditional foods are not really traditional, so I have to cook myself.” When she is not whipping up a meal of spicy pork and peppers, Wu, a graduate research assistant at the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and whose name in English means Little Cloud, is delving into what she called “the proactive work of police officers and their relationship to crime in time and place.” More simply, said the winner of a 2015-16 Dean’s Challenge Fellowship, “We want police to be place sensitive. We want them to go to places where there is the most crime.”

Why criminal justice? “It was because of my experience at the prosecutor’s office in China,” says Wu, who interned while a Beijing undergrad. “My colleagues were working to do something about crime, but the crime rate did not change. That is what sparked my interest in what exactly we can do to control crime.”

Moving forward: Wu came to the United States to study “because the discipline of criminal justice is not as developed in China, and only field professors do research.” As for Mason, “It offers the knowledge I need most. The program here falls primarily on using research to really resolve empirical problems. That’s something unique.”

Challenges: Wu spoke little English when she came to George Mason. Reading and writing the language was easier, so Wu recorded her classes and transcribed them onto her laptop. “It took up most of my free time in the first semester,” she says. “At first it was every word because my purpose was to learn English. When I got more used to the language, my write-ups got more concise and focused.”

Speaking up: It is not unusual for undergraduate classes in China to have up to 200 students, Wu says. Because of that impersonal dynamic, “you barely got a chance to talk. Here, professors expect you to express your opinions.” Given that English is her second language, it is a work in progress. “I’m not really good at [speaking up in class] yet. But once you get used to it, you love the way here.”

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