1000 Americans At The Great Wall

Brandon Berardo
April 3, 2016
1000 Americans At The Wall Event

Not only is this year the year of the monkey according to the Chinese lunar calendar, it is also the China-US Year of Tourism. On Friday, March 25, they hosted a launch event at the Great Wall to commemorate the start of the year of joint-tourism. We, the IES Abroad students, were lucky enough to be some of the 1,000 Americans invited to hike the Great Wall on this special occasion.

A bus provided by the event picked us up at around 6:30am and after swinging by Beijing University and picking up a handful of other American students, we headed off to the Great Wall which is around an hour’s drive from the city without traffic. On the way, our guides passed out passes which were our entry to the wall as well as backpacks which had a variety of gifts in them including a free t-shirt and hat. As soon as we stepped off the bus at the in the vicinity of the Great Wall, we were greeted by multiple traditional dances and a variety of reporters. As we walked from the parking lot to the base of the Great Wall a few IES Abroad students were pulled off to the side by reporters and interviewed in front of cameras and microphones about the occasion (one even did a live phone interview all in Chinese). We were the first group of Americans to arrive at the base of the Great Wall where the launch ceremony actually took place so again we were bombarded with reporters asking for our opinions on the Great Wall and the new joint initiative between China and America. After everyone had arrived, a group of Chinese and American government officials presented the purpose of our visit to the Great Wall and their intentions behind this China-US Year of Tourism. After their speeches, two American Olympic athletes led everyone in stretches before we began our hike.

Together, all 1,000 of us traversed the Great Wall at separate paces and covered different distances, however the meaning of our visit was all the same. On the stones of one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world, we walked on behalf of our country to help begin what will be a yearlong project to enhance the tourism industries of both China and America. Having the opportunity to hike on the Great Wall is something truly special, but to do it surrounded by 999 other Americans in an effort to support both China and America was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only is this year the year of the monkey according to the Chinese lunar calendar, it is also the China-US Year of Tourism. On Friday, March 25, they hosted a launch event at the Great Wall to commemorate the start of the year of joint-tourism. We, the IES Abroad students, were lucky enough to be some of the 1,000 Americans invited to hike the Great Wall on this special occasion.

A bus provided by the event picked us up at around 6:30am and after swinging by Beijing University and picking up a handful of other American students, we headed off to the Great Wall which is around an hour’s drive from the city without traffic. On the way, our guides passed out passes which were our entry to the wall as well as backpacks which had a variety of gifts in them including a free t-shirt and hat. As soon as we stepped off the bus at the in the vicinity of the Great Wall, we were greeted by multiple traditional dances and a variety of reporters. As we walked from the parking lot to the base of the Great Wall a few IES Abroad students were pulled off to the side by reporters and interviewed in front of cameras and microphones about the occasion (one even did a live phone interview all in Chinese). We were the first group of Americans to arrive at the base of the Great Wall where the launch ceremony actually took place so again we were bombarded with reporters asking for our opinions on the Great Wall and the new joint initiative between China and America. After everyone had arrived, a group of Chinese and American government officials presented the purpose of our visit to the Great Wall and their intentions behind this China-US Year of Tourism. After their speeches, two American Olympic athletes led everyone in stretches before we began our hike.

Together, all 1,000 of us traversed the Great Wall at separate paces and covered different distances, however the meaning of our visit was all the same. On the stones of one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world, we walked on behalf of our country to help begin what will be a yearlong project to enhance the tourism industries of both China and America. Having the opportunity to hike on the Great Wall is something truly special, but to do it surrounded by 999 other Americans in an effort to support both China and America was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. str2

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Brandon Berardo

<p>My name is Brandon Berardo and I am a junior from Wofford College. Through my travels abroad, I have discovered that there is so much to see. People say that pictures are worth a thousand words, but I am hoping that some of my pictures will leave you speechless.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Spring
Home university:
Wofford College
Major:
Chinese Language
Finance
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