The summer I was five, my father and I traveled to Hong Kong to visit my grandmother, Popo. So old and full of faith, Popo fascinated me, but we seemed worlds apart.

Then Popo invited me to our own private tea party. She slid a plateful of cakes across the table toward me. I took one and found a note inside. "Share your doll with someone," it read. The week before I had fought with another girl over my new doll, and Popo knew what had happened.

"This is a game," explained Popo. "The object is to follow the note's instructions until you do what it says automatically." She told me she had played this game with her mother when she was little.

The next day, I was the girl I had fought with. "Here, you can play with my baby if you want," I offered, handing her the doll. The girl smiled and returned the doll after a while. That wasn't so bad, I thought.

Week after week, Popo slipped new wisdom into my tea cake. "Treat others as you would like to be treated" was perhaps my biggest challenge. When Dad and I returned to America, I brought back souvenirs for my friends . and a few new habits inspired by Popo.

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