HANGZHOU, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- After a 14-day quarantine, economist Michele Geraci, also former undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, resumed his career as a university professor in east China's Zhejiang Province.
When he walked into his classroom at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) on Tuesday, he was greeted with the words "Welcome back, Geraci!" written on the whiteboard by his students.
It was his first class at UNNC since completing his tenure as undersecretary of state this year. He has established a course named China and Global Economy for the new semester.
Although only 40 students registered for the class, more than 100 attended, with some standing in the back of the classroom or outside.
Geraci first joined the university in 2012. In 2018, he was appointed undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.
During his tenure in the Italian government, he was one of the key officials promoting China-Italy cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
When COVID-19 first hit central China's Wuhan, he made a banner reading "Wo Shi Wuhan Ren"(I'm a Wuhan resident) in Chinese to show his support for the city. He also called for international communities to "stand together" with China in the fight against the virus and to promote even closer relations between Italy and China.
He advised the Italian government to learn from China's experience in the fight against the virus.
His connection with China began when he traveled to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. At that time, he was working on Wall Street in the United States. When the global financial crisis struck, he made the choice to change his career path.
When he first arrived in China, he spent six months studying the Chinese language at Zhejiang University and at the same time conducted research on the Chinese economy.
"For me, Hangzhou (the provincial capital) is an ideal place to learn Chinese," Geraci said. Due to his Wall Street experience, he began to teach stock market investment and financial report analysis at Zhejiang University.
To his students, he is a strict but "cool" professor with his own style.
"Professor Geraci always gets straight to the point. He doesn't like rambling and he is a very confident person," said Wei Jiale, a UNNC student. "He is a scholarly expert with charisma."
Geraci said the friendship between Italy and China began long ago, and the trade volume has been continuously increasing in recent years.
Geraci said he has been consistently working to help Italian policymakers and entrepreneurs learn more about China during his time at UNNC. "I think Italy can learn a lot from China in its rapid development and economic growth."