Jiang Qi – China

Jiang Qi was born in Shanghai, but in 1955 she moved to Nanjing, China where her father was transferred to work.  At 19, she left her hometown to attend the university in Beijing where she was to prepare for a career as a diplomat. Jiang Qi came to the United States in 1982. Her father passed away in 1988.  Her mother and 4 siblings live in China.  Jiang Qi has a daughter who is an urologist in San Francisco.

Although there were many events and experiences that influenced Jiang Qi’s life and who she is today, it was the period of the Cultural Revolution beginning in l966 that had the greatest impact.  Jiang Qi’s father was head of the Provincial Bureau of Culture in China, and during the Cultural Revolution, authorities labeled him as a supporter of capitalism. He courageously fought against the authorities and ultimately was confined and tortured for his beliefs.

At age 19, Jiang Qi was a student at the university in 1966, but when the school closed, she left Beijing to learn what the revolution and her country were about. She and 12 other students joined the long march, and for two months walked the countryside, working alongside the peasants. On the walk back to Beijing, an accident caused her companion and her to stop in a coal mine where they lived and worked for 6 months. When a miner was unjustifiably imprisoned, Jiang Qi galvanized a large group of people to successfully demand his release.

It was during this period of pain, chaos, and struggle that Jiang Qi discovered who she is and what life means to her.  Her identity changed from that of an obedient and compliant student to a person of strength, courage, and willfulness, and as she states, “My philosophy of life is to serve others – that is what I learned when I was 19 and working with the very humble peasants and mine workers.”  Serving others is what she now does in her role as chair and professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gerontology at Youngstown State.

Jiang Qi became a citizen in 2004.  She recalls the sincerity with which immigrants were welcomed, and says “The symbolic meaning of going through the ceremony makes you feel deeply from your heart that you are a part of this country. Here I find the freedom to apply my values. In this country I have lived the best part of my life, honestly.”

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