Zi Xue is a Gender and Global Security Program Assistant at WIIS as well as a Masters Student at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Zi is currently involved in planning the upcoming Next Generation Symposium and is working on various other projects relating to great power competition and nuclear disarmament.
Zi was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province in China. Her interest in international relations, especially in international organizations, was sparked when she participated in the 2012 Yale Model United Nations conference. From that point on, Zi realized she wants to pursue a career in international organizations to help nations better communicate and cooperate on global issues.
Zi’s path toward her goal began in 2013 at Tianjin Foreign Studies University, where she studied international politics. While the coursework focused on political theory, Zi’s interests related more directly to the practice of international relations. Considering the discrepancy between her interests and school’s curriculum during her first two years of university, Zi decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2015.
The transition to life in the United States was not easy. Zi earned First Class Honors in China and immediately enrolled in 3000 level courses upon her transfer to the University of Minnesota. The language barrier presented a profound new challenge for Zi during her early days in the US, but her perseverance allowed her to flourish at university. Zi recalls taking advantage of office hours every opportunity she could to both gain clarity on the material being taught and practice her English. With her hard work and passion to study, Zi graduated with distinction in 2017.
While at the University of Minnesota, Zi continued studying Political Science, this time with the emphasis on practice that she was lacking at Tianjin. In addition to her coursework, Zi got hands-on experience working on Senator Sandy Pappas’ campaign for state Senate. Her duties included researching the constituency and promoting Senator Pappas’ policies within the Twin Cities community. While working on the campaign, Zi established a strong rapport with Senator Pappas and even recounts staying with the Senator for two weeks while in between apartments. After graduating in December 2017, Zi began working with one of her professors who researched corporate social responsibility. Her research included evaluations of organizations such as Project Hope. Zi has also done research on Latino communities in Minneapolis and their access to healthy food.
Zi also completed a double minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and Studies in Cinema and Media Culture during her time in Minnesota. Zi became interested in the way directors utilize different cinematic techniques to convey different emotions and political beliefs. Zi enjoys going to film festivals, especially international festivals, and enjoys contemplating the way that viewers can “read” this form of expression.
Her minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies provides a point of intersectionality for her time here at WIIS. While she has taken classes on Nuclear Security, Zi finds the gender dimensions of nuclear security and great power competition fascinating. She will continue to explore the gender dimensions of these matters through her work with the Next Generation Symposium. Zi participated in the selection process and is working on compiling a reading list for all the participating to understand great power competition and nuclear disarmament, as well as the intersection of gender. She is also aiding with the visa process for the participants and will help will selections speakers in the future.
Zi enjoys traveling quite a bit. She has traveled throughout the United States, Japan and England. Zi has also traveled to the Northern Arctic Circle where she was able to see the Northern Lights. She is planning to visit Cairo later this summer for lesiure.
Zi’s work at WIIS stems from her interest in the intersectionality of gender and nuclear security. During her time at WIIS, Zi hopes to learn more about the practical implications of these two subjects. We are excited to continue learning from this thoughtful and bright team member!