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Photo by Kate Gross-Whitaker

First Yak


My name is Julia Zhou and I’m from Herndon, Virginia, a suburb of DC. I’ve lived all along the east coast, plus a brief stint with my grandparents in Nanjing. My grandparents, not knowing English, were very adamant that I grow up with a solid grounding towards my heritage and culture so that we could continue to communicate. Orienting myself towards Chinese culture is a beautiful, dizzying, never-ending experience – I’m no closer to understanding everything than I was as a toddler all those years ago – but I’m ready to keep learning and growing in Kunming. Along the way, I also hope to get a better grasp on my values, motivations, and what space I want to occupy in the world.

In my free time, I enjoy writing, baking, playing trivia (one of my ultimate life goals is to compete on Jeopardy!), and doing gymnastics. I’m excited to meet everyone, and look forward to all the adventures yet to come!