Jade Dragon Pendant

A pendant of carved jade
A pendant of carved jade

Both of my maternal grandparents – my ye-ye and nai-nai – were born in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War; my grandfather traces his roots to Hangzhou while my grandmother was born in Chongqing. The daily Japanese bombings would ultimately force Nai-Nai and her parents to flee to Mumbai, India when she was only four years old. Her life onwards was transient, thanks to her father’s career as a diplomat. Following the conclusion of the war, my then-teenage grandfather left China and moved with his family to Taiwan. Both of my grandparents eventually immigrated to the United States in the 1960s, where they met in New York. After marrying and having my mother, they moved to San José, California to work as engineers. Ye-Ye and Nai-Nai still live there today in the same house they bought when they first moved to California. 

My mother and in turn, my sister and I were all raised in San José. Our collective migration never transcended beyond the bounds of the Golden State until my sister and I moved away for college (me to New York, her to Seattle). My grandparents’ migration story is one I carry with me at all times – a jade pendant, carved into the shape of a dragon. It is one of the few possessions my great-grandmother, or tai-po, brought with her as my Nai-Nai and her parents fled China. It is one of our most precious family heirlooms, marked and buffed with age, and a token of my family’s survival and resilience. 

Place(s): China; Taiwan; New York City; San José, California

– Claire Mondry

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant