A lot has changed for communication and journalism professor Xiaowen Guan since she arrived in the United States from China in 2002. Before that she had never been outside of China; now, she calls the Twin Cities home after coming to St. Thomas in 2008.

Guan has long researched cross-cultural and intercultural communication, an endeavor that has become all the more important as St. Thomas continues to emphasize its role in a global community. There’s plenty of other things on Guan’s plate these days though, with a 2-year-old son whose name alone clues into the intercultural life Guan leads.

“I wanted something Chinese to reflect his heritage, along with his last name Fitzpatrick. I had the idea of Han, which means, ‘Vastness of the universe’ … My husband (Ian) said, ‘That sounds great, it’s just like Han Solo!’” Guan said of the search for her son’s name, Han-Han.

Guan took a break from her summer schedule to answer a few questions for Humans of St. Thomas:

What’s your favorite thing about St. Thomas?

There are so many. A couple things I really like about St. Thomas is the location; it’s really beautiful. And some of the people I’ve met here are really, really cool, and have the same kind of mindset to have a balance of teaching, research and service. The location is one of the reasons that attracted me to be here, and now that I’ve been here the people that I’ve met have become friends.

What song is in your head right now or your favorite song to listen to recently?

I don’t think I have one in there right now. My music interests have been very influenced by my husband. A couple years ago I took up the drums and really enjoy classic rock songs.

If you could attempt any career outside of your own, what would it be?

A marine biologist. I’m always curious about what’s beneath the sea. I can’t swim that well and was often scared by the water, but if I could get past that fear and see below the water I would love it.

What’s your favorite food item at St. Thomas?

The food is not my favorite here. It’s a lot better than (it used to be), now with the Anderson Student Center. I like the variety The View offers.

Describe your first week at St. Thomas in one word?


What’s the farthest place you’ve ever traveled from home?

If you don’t count the U.S. as one country, the farthest would be the East Coast, Boston and New York. The other direction I’ve been to France, Germany, and I don’t know which way if farther away from China. Before coming to the U.S. though, I had never been abroad. The states were the first place I had traveled (from China).

What’s in your backpack or bag right now?

This book about raising a bilingual child. My glasses; I have to use reading glasses now, and those weren’t there a couple of years ago unfortunately.

What’s your favorite way to let off steam?

It used to be shopping, but I can’t afford that anymore with a child! Now it’s probably meeting friends for lunch.

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3 Responses

  1. Seanne

    “Humans?” Why can’t we say “students?” It sounds like we are preparing for aliens to land on our planet!