Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Xia Ji, New Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs

Dr. Xia Ji, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Today, we’re shining light on Dr. Xia Ji, our new Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs. In getting to know Xia, we pause to consider the identifiers often put on ta in the Canadian context: an immigrant/newcomer; an Asian/Chinese Canadian (lumped into the category of ‘BIPOC’); a woman; an English language learner; a visitor/visiting scholar, and more. Xia says, “Very few Canadians can see beyond my Asian/Chinese look and non-Canadian accent. Here are some identifiers which are less perceived by people: a daughter (to a brilliant mother); a mother (to three amazing children attending Regina Public Schools); a sister (to a most kind brother living in mainland China and to many more); an English teacher (taught English to elementary to university students in China for about 3 years); a friend and mentor (to people from various parts of the world); a citizen (of any place ta inhabits, especially of the land); a leader (including Director of Professional Development & Field Experiences for 5 years); a professor of education (14 years at the U of R); an education scholar/qualitative researcher/autoethnographer; an environmental educator (taught K-12 as well as graduate students in Minnesota from 1999 to 2007); a democracy advocator; a warrior for the human spirit; and a person who cares deeply about human development, liberation, and awakening.” At this stage of ta de life, Xia identifies as all the above, and none of the above. Xia says, “To borrow Yo-Yo Ma’s words, ‘I am constantly becoming as I move towards that which I do not yet understand each day. The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life.’”

In ta de work and life, Xia is passionate about and fascinated by people. This passion and fascination translates into ta de classroom context as Xia attempts to create “ethical space for various knowledge systems to come into dialogue, debate, and mutual understanding,” and “to form learning communities where we can come to know and to be known,” says Xia. “Your horizon will be expanded if you sign up!”

Xia’s passion extends to ta de research interests, which, for Xia, “are continuously evolving, but have been primarily about ecological identity/ self-realization, civic discourse, teacher education, holistic well-being, and human awakening/transformation. I value and understand research as a ‘ceremony to build stronger relationships or bridge the distance between our cosmos and us’ (Wilson, 2008). With the presence of and guidance from our Elders in Residence and Indigenous colleagues/scholars, I have come to see that Indigenous knowledge systems are vast and profound, and are not only necessary but also essential to the survival and flourishing of all life on Earth.”

As advice to students, Xia likes to pass on the words of caution ta received when ta decided to do ta de PhD: “My friend and mentor Betsy Damon (https://www.betsydamon.com/) said ‘Don’t let your PhD ruin you.’ Xia always remembers these words and says: “No matter what you study or research, also engage in self-study, get in touch with your inner curriculum, tap into the full intelligence as well as the shadows within you. Indeed, the study of self is the beginning of wisdom. After all, what we are, the world is!”

Outside of work, Xia enjoys “doing nothing, just being.” Ta practices insight meditation, and is involved in the Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) Community https://www.rc.org/ as the leader of the Mandarin RC Group for Oversea Chinese. Xia also loves reading and writing. Lately ta is immersed in reading Indigenous literature from Canada, as well as classic Chinese and Indian literature.

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