(Podcast) GLOBAL CONNECTIONS #11 – Play, Pause, and Rewind – Lixing Li


Xiao Yun Sim  00:02

Hello everyone! It’s Xiao Yun here and you’ve probably have been wondering why aren’t there new uploads on our channel? So fun news, we recently had a new member joining our podcast team and we are finally back. I’m so happy to welcome our new blog and podcast editor to the team. In this episode, I want to invite Lixing Li as she joins us as the host for Global Connections CGDSD. And in this episode, we kind of theme it to like play, pause, rewind. And now let’s focus on the play section where I want to introduce Lixing and have her talk about herself and share what she is doing right now.  Hello, everyone. My name is Lixing. I am currently working as an academic advisor at Washington University in St. Louis, the Olin Business School. Prior to that I have seven years of experience in higher education, particularly in international admissions, recruiting, programming and cross cultural teaching and learning. As a former international student, I came to the United States from China in 2012. In my junior year and finish my bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina Upstate, during college, I have really good experience and decided to work in higher education. So I continue the master’s program in higher education administration at the College of William Mary, our salary income mentioned, I am new to ACPA CGDSD. And I’m happy to join our podcasting as another host. Yay, we are excited to have you on board and help us in recruitment efforts of guest speakers, blog writers, as well as co-hosting a podcast with us. So now we kind of talked about the play section of like you introducing yourself where you are right now, let’s focus on the pause. So reflecting on your journey. I’m just curious to learn from you. How did you balance your expectations as a new professional? So let’s not focus on the seven years experience first, but focusing on when you were starting in your first job after graduation. So how did you balance that expectation?

Lixing Li  02:21

Sure, this is a great question. And I will say I am still exploring and learning my identity or you can say my strength or weakness is something I cannot give in this question. The identity issue starts with my language studying, I was an English Education major for my undergraduate degree. And I was very particular about my own English learning. Because as a teacher, you have to learn pretty well to be a good example for the students. But this gave me so much stress, because I cannot do any better than my American peers. And by the way, I think I am one of the few international students in the in that program. So I used to struggle a lot when I don’t speak perfect English and my accent and my non native phrases make me so outstanding. Well, yeah, that’s outstanding, and I feel at a disadvantage. But later on, I got confused because in the US higher education has a culture to embrace diversity and inclusion, especially when you are serving international students international population, and your accent and non native English seem to be a blessing be a blessing thing to get you closer to your international students. And they could tell people in my department that tolerant to me and focus more more on my strengths. So and I kept telling myself, oh, I need to be more confident. And when I decided to apply for my current job in the business school, which is no longer International Department specific department, the more like a general academic department, I feel like oh, the stress is coming back. And I started to question myself because I only work for international students because of my background in experience, or I can work for a broader population for all the students based on my expertise and education, professional education in this field. And then here comes the second issue of my identity as my foreign background and experience. It later proves that I am a higher education professional with international background. So my foreign background and professional knowledge are both critical and part of my identity The tea that gives me faith and confidence that I can do well, in my job. Yeah. So back to the question. Yeah, sorry for the long, long, long introduction,

Xiao Yun Sim  05:11

Sorry to cut you off. But I do think that you explaining your identity piece and how it plays a part in your self development and self awareness of how you would work with students. And also, with your experience working. You mentioned international ambitions and programming wise, and I would think, assume that it’s international programming and outreaches that you were working on in the previous role. I do think that those identities that you that you hold plays a major part, because when you were in that role, you I said, former international student that plays as a string to you, because like you mentioned, you are more relatable, you can connect with international students, whereas in your early in your current role, you mentioned, oh, shoot, you’re struggling again, like what are? How does the both piece that you mentioned up your identity section on the language port as your as well as the foreign backgrounds affect your decision making or affect how you work with students? 

Lixing Li  06:20

Yeah, yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah. Also, for this question, I just told myself, I need to have a realistic expectation of myself in my job, and figure out the gap, and then just work on it. The reaction be realistic, is  No matter how hard I tried, I’m still a foreigner, I cannot just be as native as my American peers. But my experience is something maybe my American peers are looking for, but they will never have. So for me, for my language study and my language, which I think it’s also the weakness is I really need to improve English, but not just to pursuing standard accent, but get more knowledge of the language and the culture behind that. So right now, I’m like okay, as long as they know what that means. And I can make sense to my students and my co workers. And I think that’s good enough. And also, for the professional piece, I need to just do more professional training in this field and meet more people to learn from each other. There is no end of learning. And this is critical to both new professionals and people in this field for a long time.

Xiao Yun Sim  07:39

Yeah, and I think that, for me, myself, I think that I struggle with the expectations that I need to set for myself, because I feel that I need to do extra work to be able to meet the standards of my domestic peers, I need to work extra harder to achieve the same goals that we might have. But while thinking like You’re like you’re mentioning the real reality portion, like what are some of the things that are attainable? What are some things that I can achieve is firstly, just being really comfortable with yourself and embracing the identities that you hold and that is a big portion of how we are ourselves. And I think that, for me, I probably mentioned to you outside of the podcast of when I first started undergraduate school here in United States, people couldn’t pronounce my name, shall you and so I had to give myself an English name. And the first year I was like, okay, that’s probably going to be the name by I will be using moving on forward but throughout, I just kind of felt that that name doesn’t represent who I am and doesn’t represent my identities. So I had to kind of just go over again of like, educating people about the meaning behind my name. Why is it important to me? And I think that you probably would agree with like, okay, the embracing identities portion of how can you find your voice? And how can you be able to advocate for yourself and be able to set those expectations for yourself because those are the expectations that you have for yourself, but not others have for you? Like, how can you be authentic and be able to still hit the goals that you set for yourself? 

Lixing Li  09:34

Yes, yes. You have really good point. I really appreciate that part. Yeah, really need to voice ourselves and maintain the identity and advocate for ourselves. That’s very important.

Xiao Yun Sim  09:46

And I feel like through my participation within this, within our commission, I was able to see and meet people who are similar as me in terms have experiences or the things that they have been going through. And I feel that I have a support system that I am able to rely on, if I am doubting yourself or if I have just questions about different things that I know that I have people that I could ask questions and people that I can lean on to get their expertise or get their feedback on different things. So, yeah, I’m really happy to have you on board with us and be able to be within our commission and participate and join the different activities that we have.

Lixing Li  10:37

Yeah, same here. Very happy to join the team.

Xiao Yun Sim  10:42

Uhm you did mention earlier, when you were sharing that you wanted to build the confidence piece of like embracing the language portion? Embracing your foreign experiences? Can you elaborate more on what are some of the steps that you have taken to build confidence?

Lixing Li  11:01

Yeah, build a confidence. That’s yeah. And as you can see, I’m still kind of not that confident. And then. So exploring and learning my education in undergraduate, to be educator, be a teacher taught me a lot on practice makes perfect. Yeah, I feel like the more I prepare, the more I practice, I feel more comfortable, and more confident. And that’s very helpful. And for career development, and I got the habits of take notes. And just to read, be check, revisit the notes and get more familiar with the content and be prepared. And that made me feel more comfortable and confident. And also, I think back to the first question that I think it’s, it’s a callback is to set the realistic expectation on yourself. So somebody looks like a weakness is probably another person strength, just accept it, embrace it. And you never know what will happen. Yeah.

Xiao Yun Sim  12:09

So like, how can we work with each other collaborate in a teamwork setting and play to each other’s strengths to make things work? Make things a success? Yeah. But thank you for sharing that piece and reflecting on your journey, Lixing. And now I want to focus on the rewind section. So this could this is our final question that we have about kind of like the brief introduction of you, being our blog and podcast editor to our listeners is, now that you are a seasoned professional with like, you mentioned, seven years of experience, if you were given a magic wand to be a student again, what are some of the things that you would do differently?

Lixing Li  12:58

Yeah, sure. Yeah, I love this question. And I really wish I can go back to seven years ago and tell myself what I could do differently. First of all, I have to say, I have really good experience and my alma mater, the College of William and Mary, it offered me a lot of great opportunities. For example, I was working in the Undergraduate Admissions Office as the graduate system, and they let me be one of the committee members. Without that position, I can never know that US admission processing and left along my admission journey to be a professional. Also, I did my internship at the International Student Services, and the Confucius Institutes, which is also the beginning of my international education journey, I transformed from a f1 student to the international professional staff. So this is very unique, I have really good memories over there. If if I can start again, I will continue this path. And one thing I will have to say is I could maybe I could have changed my attitude a little bit to manage my stress and embrace the uncertainty. This is do something I am telling my advisees because you know, like we’re all international background, and we all understand the how status and sponsorship or H1-B is so helpful and so important for us, but this is something our American peers will not understand. So the stress part is very occupies and kill most of my energy. So if I could start again, I would definitely tell myself stop stressing because it’s not helping. And stressing will also kill the positive energy that you will have spent on more positive and meaningful work. Uncertainty breeds confusion and loss also unexpected opportunities. So being international might not let you get a job freely, but your strength could be unique. So embrace the uncertainty and just do it. And the second change I would do differently would be getting out of my comfort zone and go extra mile. This is cliche, but I have to say it’s very true. If I could have pushed myself harder and try something new in graduate school, maybe I could have done better or be more confident right now. And you can say, I am still kind of dividend. And nervous in networking, I did not practice English public speaking and communication so much as in college. And I became quieter and quieter in graduate school. That became a weird and praise the, you know, most box that keeps emphasizing me that, hey, you are a and introverted person. But you know what, I was an English Education major. And I, I had no problem teaching in front of the big audience before. So what happened to me. So that made me reflect that. Staying in the comfort zone with no practice and no clue, no input, gave myself intangible information. And that information sometimes could hinder my progress. In conclusion that if I could do differently, I would just first relax, and enjoy what I have, and work harder to go extra mile and discover my potentials, and then just wait for my shining moments to come.

Xiao Yun Sim  16:43

Yeah. Thank you for sharing that piece, Lixing. And I think that like, when you were mentioning about, like, changing how you would view things and like changing your attitude piece that you were mentioning, as well as getting out of your comfort zone, I’m glad that I’m able to meet you here and you’re able to be on our team. And you said that you one thing that you hope to change is like taking up public speaking skills and communicating more. And I hope that through this class, you’re able to utilize those skill sets and network with fellow higher educators in the field. And with that, I do think that like everyone handles getting out of their comfort zone differently. Like some of the people are like, Okay, let’s get to it. And then I’ll just go speak to people that I don’t know easily or just doing things that they are not comfortable with easily. And I feel that like everyone should just take it at their own pace. And maybe you’re like, Okay, I’m adventurous today, I want to try something new. Or maybe some of the days you’re like, No, I’m not feeling it. And I think that just like celebrating the small successes and like, the small things that you are able to achieve is so important. And if you were to ask me the magic, more question, I would probably say the similar things of being more sociable, being more, getting out of my comfort zone, comfort zone, like the same wordings that you shared. I’d also at the same time, take care of myself and manage my stress well, because it’s not also the expecting like thinking about what futures has for me and stress about that there. It’s also stressing about academics, because we are transitioning to education system is in us that is so different that we need to learn. And for me, I’m not learning it in my first language, like how can I manage that and just the extra work in hard work that we need to pay up front and then the results will be the fruitful piece where we are able to celebrate upon? So yeah, long term wise, it is definitely a full circle. And I would say that for you is definitely a full circle moment because you were able to experience it as a student and now as a professional and how embracing uncertainty of the future. 

Lixing Li  19:24

Yeah, absolutely. And you know what I just come up with the third point, like I think the mentor, peers, learnings are very important. I wish 7 years ago, I could have already joined this group and met you that we can learn from each other and, and support each other. And I think this is very helpful. I think this is a lifelong, lifelong learning process. This is not like Well, we are a full time staff now where we don’t need to learn anymore. No, we’re still exploring and learning and helping and supporting each other. I’m really grateful that I can join this group and meet you guys here.

Xiao Yun Sim  20:03

I want to thank you, leashing for joining us here today. So I’m really interested to hear the future projects that she will have and the episodes that she has been recording that will be released in the upcoming days about all things international education, and I want to end the note of higher education, the things that we are learning, it’s always a lifelong process. And we need to have mentors we need to have our support system along the way that we can lean on each other for. So thank you again, for joining us here today.

Lixing Li  20:39

Thank you so much for having me today. And thank you everyone for listening to this episode.