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My Nanyao Nainai

It’s been incredible experiencing the day to day routine of the Naxi people in the small community of Nanyao. The city life we had become accustomed to is a stark contrast to the courtyard homes nestled on the side of a mountain which we now call home.

On Saturday morning, after a night of travel, an old woman grasped my hand in her rough, aged palm. About a foot shorter than me, my host grandmother spoke rapid Naxi (her native language) while a broad, almost toothless grin stretched across her face. We walked hand in hand through the streets. Me, a dazed looking foreigner lugging a massive backpack on my shoulders following the guide of this strong but warm woman. In broken Mandarin, she told me to call her “Nainai,” the Chinese word for grandmother. While we barely understood each other, I feel a growing bond between us. Our conversations consist of her fabulous food, the weather, and her commanding me to eat more; yet, we greet each other every morning and when I return home from class with big smiles. I have grown to respect and love my Nainai’s calm presence in the household and cannot believe that our time together is coming to an end.

All the best,