This week’s photo series comes from the students and alumni of NYU Shanghai. We’re looking at how people from China and around the world come to understand their new home via images.

The first time I went to Qibao in Shanghai was my first glimpse into old China. There was a crowd gathered around an old man who had with him three monkeys. He sharpened knives and was about to cut the monkey’s head off…until the monkey comically dodged it. It was a street performance with three very well-trained monkeys. One of the monkeys approached me and flashed the “gimme-gimme” hand symbol. I actually told the monkey “I’m sorry, 没有钱。I don’t have money.” All of a sudden… WHAPOW! He used his palm to strike me in the forehead. I was just assaulted by a monkey, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. In that instance, I felt like I suddenly understood the origin of martial arts, coming from the movements of animals.

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