Ran Xiang

A cultural analysis of the tea ceremony as a form of aesthetic pedagogy
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I did my second MA in education at UBC first and at the time, tea ceremony was only an intellectual curiosity, and I did not think it could be a research topic until I became more familiar with the literature. I realized that tea ceremony learning is under-researched and that it is a worthy topic beyond my personal interest. At that point it became a scholarly pursuit for my PhD. The possibility of an academic career afterwards is another reason.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I have started Chanoyu class with Urasenke Vancouver Branch, which is the only official Urasenke School in Canada, before I got admitted into the PhD program. I have also found potential supervisor and committee members who are interested in working with me, so to continue my PhD at UBC seems natural to me.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

Rigorous scholarship carried out by wonderful scholars and fellow graduate students, very supporting staff members and stimulating intellectual environment of EDCP have been a bless.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I really enjoy the rainy days in Vancouver, which are plenty throughout the year. I live on campus and my desk is facing the Reconciliation Pole playground. The experience of working from my computer on rainy days, looking up occasionally from my desk, the sound of falling rain, the smell of moist air and the view of greens, has become the timber of my PhD life, which will form lasting memories.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

The tea drinking experience back in Beijing, the aroma, the texture of tea and different sensations it caused me, has created curiosities for me. It took effort to articulate those curiosities and to find people who are interested in and supportive of what I hope to do. It is a lovely surprise that SSHRC funded my project, so if I could add one more advice, be curious and passionate about what you do.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Be adventurous—don’t be afraid to take risks. Trust yourself unconditionally. Exercise self-care at all times.


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