Meet Rei Xiao, A23 (BFA)

School: School of the Museum of Fine Arts
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Home: It’s not something you just have—it’s something you create for yourself.

Why was Tufts the right place for you?

I knew when I graduated from high school that I wanted to go to art school abroad. Tufts was my top choice because it has a separate art school that’s part of a larger university, it’s interdisciplinary, and, despite the fact that I’m an international student, it offered me a generous amount of financial aid.

What’s one thing you’ve learned at Tufts that surprised you?

I’m Chinese-Turkish, and I grew up in Turkey, far away from the Chinese side of my family. I was never in touch with my Chinese roots. I learned at Tufts that I thrive in environments that allow me to connect with a diverse group of people—and that it was important for me to feel more connected with my heritage.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to take classes that allowed me to cross paths with Asian Americans. When I came here, I made Chinese American friends, and connecting with them has taught me so much, from details about my own culture to truths about systemic imperfections in the world.

Is there a particular class that you think all Tufts students should take?

Charles Goss’s class Bumps on the Wall was great—it was a class that made me think in different mediums and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m tempted to name that one. But the class I enjoyed most was Intermediate Studio Seminar. Because it’s a year-long class, it’s a great opportunity to build community—especially when you’re creating things next to one another and attending weekly seminars. It gave me the freedom and space to independently find my interests while also working alongside others. I think everyone could benefit from that.

What’s your favorite place on campus?

The Intermediate Studio Seminar space. It has a glass ceiling and gets perfect lighting when there’s sunlight coming in—it’s so beautiful. I have many wonderful memories of that place.

What’s next for you?

As an international student, I have an extra year during which I can stay in the U.S. and work. I’m planning to do that while also applying to residencies and grants. Eventually, I want to move to New York, establish a career, and see where that takes me.

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