The Naxi homestay was definitely one that frightened me in the beginning of the trip. I think I was extremely afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my family, because of language and lack of a shared culture. This was not the case with the Beijing homestay, because I share the internet culture with the students and even the families of the students. However, the village was totally different. I was picked up by an older woman whom I assumed was my grandmother. She was very quiet with me throughout the stay, but she never failed to tell me to eat. When I arrived back to her home, I met my grandfather and my uncle. The grandfather was obsessed with swatting flies, which I found as a parallel to my mother whenever I let a fly into the house. The best part of the fly swatting game was that, if the fly landed anywhere, he was going to smack it. A fly landed on my leg at one point and I didn’t realize it and he swatted my leg. Luckily, the fly got away and I was not subjected to fly juice on my leg (well, disregarding that, which was already on the swatter).
One of my favorite things about the village was the connectivity and inclusivity of everyone. All of us were welcomed with open arms and if we wanted to explore, they were all helpful in giving us directions to some extent. I really enjoyed also that anyone could come over and there was no question as to whether they were welcome or not. Everyone knew everyone; they would never hesitate to give you food. I liked to walk around with some of the students during the days and I think the village inclusivity triggered an inclusivity in our group. We hadn’t really connected very well, but the village allowed anyone to come over and just talk about whatever was on our minds.
I am extremely saddened to know that this year could be and is probably the last year that Norfolk Academy stays with the Naxi families. Those three days were the most relaxing days of the trip, and I think that staying in a rural area in mainland China is one of the most eye opening experiences. In complete honesty, I learned how much I am not a country person; but I also learned how much I do need rest in the form of socially interacting without phones.