Bortolotti intends to apply the quantitative skills he gains at Harris to his current work with education opportunities.
Headshot of Gabriele Bortolotti
Gabriele Bortolotti

After spending the past several years in Tokyo, Japan, Gabriele Bortolotti is inspired by the concept of kokorozashi, which he defines as a goal that “contains both the desire to do something good and do that with other people.”

Originally from Bologna, Italy, Bortolotti realized he had been inspired by the concept of kokorozashi even in his high school years, during which he completed a year abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. While living with his host family, Bortolotti was able to embark on a journey of self-discovery and learn both English and Thai through the help of his host family and the Thai high school he attended.

“One of the most interesting experiences from that year abroad was becoming a Buddhist monk for one week. It was a way for students to thank their host family for the education and support they received. By becoming a Buddhist monk for a short amount of time, the student helps provide a good afterlife to the host family,” Bortolotti said. “My host family’s grandmother appreciated the act of gratitude and remembrance, which in turn allowed me to gain her trust and support.”

After Bortolotti returned to Italy and completed his high school degree, he attended the University of Bologna and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations. “However, I knew I wanted to travel and work beyond my home country,” he said.

Bortolotti subsequently went to work for the Ashinaga Foundation in Tokyo, Japan, where he has spent the past four years working to support low-income orphaned students in Africa and Japan.

“My role at Ashinaga Foundation is to promote the organization and fundraising, which also entails the monitoring and evaluating of the program. This role is important to assess the social impact of our work, improve activities, and justify donations,” Bortolotti said.

The Foundation selects 50 to 60 students every year from across Sub-Saharan Africa and provides them the opportunity to attend university. “Obviously university can have a very strong impact on their lives, but we don't want the impact to end there. We want participants to then be vectors of change, young leaders that can then pay forward to their communities,” Bortolotti said.

The recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, Bortolotti sees earning his Master of Public Policy at Harris as a way to further the work he has done with the Ashinaga Foundation. “While interviewing outstanding applicants to the Foundation’s scholarships, I became curious about investigating and addressing educational access issues from a policy perspective. I believe effective, evidence-based policymaking can help address inequalities in accessing education,” he said, “so I want to expand my knowledge and policy to scale up the support I provide at the Ashinaga Foundation. I am confident that Harris will be a perfect environment for me to understand how education interacts with many aspects of policy.”

Bortolotti also chose Harris because of the flexibility and customization potential of the program. “Courses such as Attaining Equity in K-12 with Professor Matt Niksch and Higher Education and Public Policy with Professor Jennifer Delaney would provide further nuance to my understanding of the barriers to education,” he said. “Plus, attending Professor Zingales class on crony capitalism at Booth would be a unique opportunity.” 

Overall, Bortolotti is open to whatever opportunities Harris may bring. “I am approaching Harris with a very open mind—I’m willing to be captured by an area of policy that perhaps I was not familiar with before. I'm excited to see what Harris has to offer.”