This week we caught up with Chongzheng Wei, a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology in CCSP working with Dr. Tania Israel. He received an M.Ed. in Education (concentration: sexuality education and counseling) from Beijing Normal University and a B.S. in Applied Psychology from Nanchang University in China. His strong commitment to counseling psychology and social justice started by serving prisoners, underresourced migrant children, and LGBTQ individuals in China. After graduation, he was selected for a prestigious traineeship program sponsored by the Chinese government to work at both UNESCO headquarters in Paris and Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok, promoting gender equality and LGBTI inclusion in the education sector. Chongzheng speaks Mandarin, English, and intermediate French. His research centers around addressing minority stress and mental health disparities facing the LGBTQ community. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, hiking, swimming, and playing the ukulele. (Note this 5?s format is taken from one of the School's internal communications, and is meant to help the Gevirtz community get to know itself better.)
GGSE: Who (living or dead) do you most admire?
Wei: I admire most my queer and trans ancestors who had fought for my better existence, especially queer and trans persons of color who died of hatred, violence, and discrimination. I may not know them but their spirits of bravery and compassion still live with me.
GGSE: What is your favorite place in Santa Barbara?
Wei: The Coal Oil Point near campus has the most beautiful sunset that I have seen in Santa Barbara.
GGSE: When (besides now) would you like to live?
Wei: My childhood, when I lived in the countryside of Fujian Province of China, with my siblings and parents. I was so close to nature and surrounded by my family who I don’t see often since I left China. There is a small river where I caught fishes with my peers and mountains where I gathered wild fruits and laughter.
GGSE: Where (besides Santa Barbara) would you want to live if money/job were not an issue?
Wei: Paris has the people I love and many beautiful things I miss. I lived and worked there for nearly one and half years. Besides Parisian bourgeois, I really enjoyed its stylish way of living, appreciation for art, and beautiful architecture.
GGSE: Why do you do the job you do?
Wei: This world has so much darkness and suffering. I enjoy learning counseling psychology because I believe in the infinite power of human connection and empathy to combat isolation and suffering. I am trying to find my way of dealing with it and to help create a better place. In addition, based on my personal and professional experiences in China, France, and Thailand, I see a great need for mental health researchers and practitioners for the marginalized populations such as sexual and gender minorities, especially in developing countries.