• We were there on the wall. All 31 one of us, from random parts of the US standing on the Great Wall. Many back in the United States thought we could never accomplish something like this. All the odds were against […]

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Carlos! It’s great to hear that you had such a powerful experience in China.

  • As part of our Study Abroad program, we were supposed to go to the Great Wall during our first weekend in Beijing. Sadly, we faced “terribly unavoidable set backs” (it rained), which made us go until the fourth weekend of our trip. It was extremely cloudy that morning, not smoggy cloudy but simply cloudy. When we arrived at Mutianyu Great Wall Tourist area, we got off the bus and were greeted by small raindrops. As we walked up to the main tourist section, the small raindrops turned in bullets of water, where we ran to an over head covering for cover. Most of us had already thrown in the towel for going to the Great Wall, but our facilitators, nicknamed “American Headmasters” by one of our Chinese teachers, made us get into the pouring rain, and smile while taking a picture carrying a banner saying “APSA的学生们,北京欢迎你!“。 After being drenched, the rain let up a bit so, we began to make our way to the tram that would take us to where we would began our trek to the Great Wall.

    Once we got off the tram, we made our way to get some Subway Sandwiches. When were told we were getting Subway the night before, we felt as if god sprinkled some of his glorious pity on us desperate 美国人们. We went into order and I, like the strangely overly hungry person I am, bought two 6 inch sandwiches, because why not. The sandwiches were supposed to be for lunch, but I just couldn’t resist any longer. I wolfed down the first sandwich in less than a minute, but kept myself from eating the other one.

    After everyone ordered, we walked through the security gates and began to make our way to the Great Wall. I knew the climb was going to be tough, but what I saw far exceeded my expectations. The stairs seemed to contain step after rock step that continued on for infinite eternity. At first the climb up was completely terrible, but slowly my legs began to grow tired, then they began to burn of agony as I refused to rake a break. Having ran two marathons in extreme heat and terrible body conditions, I thought I was well qualified to handle the climb, but by the time I made it up, I literally felt like throwing myself over the railing, for the plants seemed so fresh and comfortable, and I was sweating like crazy. I must remind you that it was still slightly raining when were going up the stairs and the air was very refreshing, but my entire shirt was drenched in sweat. Now I would normally breakdown and be disgusted by my sweat, but this was the Great Wall and there was no time to waste. We wrote our names on the wall, and took the 2015 APSA group photo, which by far was the most beautiful picture I’ve ever seen. The sheer detail of the picture captured all of APSA, for why we were there, what were doing, and what our hard work led to. It was a marvel to look ar, at what we finally accomplished as normal high school students. We did what many back in the United States thought we could never do. We beat the odds and we were proud in our own silent way. Personally, not too bad for the son of a seamstress worker.

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