Yesterday I had the amazing experience of visiting the Great Wall. After learning about this all throughout school, as a child watching Mulan, and later more in depth in AP World History class, it felt so special to be given this opportunity. It truly was as beautiful as you could imagine, in the middle of vast mountains that sprawled in every direction.
Walking along the wall, I was blown away by the history and culture. Trying to imagine the people long before me who were here building this wall was so crazy! It’s also so special how today, it attracts people from all across the globe. I heard a plethora of languages and accents yesterday, ranging from Thailand to Australia to Germany to many more. I even talked to some girls from Ohio State who were Steelers Fans 🙂
Not only was the wall so amazing, but the surrounding scenery also! I had an urge to go explore the mountains and climb and hike and spend hours upon hours there. The beauty of the nature was so strong, and another great reminder of why sustainability is one of my largest passions and how important it is to devote time and energy to preserving our environment.
Another fun part was sharing this experience with my NSLI friends! Claudia, Simon, Mia, Brian, and Alex. It is super fun getting to explore all these amazing places with friends who are also super passionate about Chinese culture, history, and the language!
Some quick facts about the Great Wall: it is over 13,000 miles long, over 2,000 years old, crosses 9 Chinese provinces, and 1/3 of the wall has disappeared without a trace. It felt so special to be in a place with such a rich history. Below is some more info regarding this history:
- The earliest extensive walls were built by Qin Shi Huang (260-210 B.C.) of the Qin dynasty, who first unified China and is most famous for the standing terra cotta army left to guard his tomb. It is from the Qin (pronounced “chin”) dynasty which the modern word “China” is derived. Little of those earliest walls remain.
- Because the Great Wall was discontinuous, Mongol invaders led by Genghis Khan (“universal ruler”) had no problem going around the wall and they subsequently conquered most of northern China between A.D. 1211 and 1223. They ruled all of China until 1368 when the Ming defeated the Mongols.
- The dynasties in China after the Qin which seriously added to and rebuilt the Great Wall were the Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), Sui (A.D. 581-618), Jin (115-1234) and, most famously, the Ming (1368-1644). What survives today are the stone and brick walls predominately from the Ming dynasty. (These stats are from factretreiver.com)
Shoutout to my friend Tima from Kazakhstan, who at only 15 can speak Kazakh, English, Russian, and Chinese!! He is one of the many great friends I’ve made so far. Without a doubt, this was a super amazing experience. It was both inspiring and humbling to visit one of the wonders of the world. Something that was cool to hear was how there is a legend that a dragon traced out the path of the Great Wall of China, and the builders followed this course to build the wall. Without a doubt, such an incredible day! 🙂