Our major excursion of the day was to the Great Wall of China. It was begun in 626 BC, and the Beijing section is over 600 years old. While the wall was 6000 kilometers long when completed, it now stands in several different sections throughout the country. After taking a cable car up to the wall itself, we spent a few hours hiking on the wall. The view was extraordinary, and you could see the wall winding its way through the mountains. One thing that struck all of us is how steep the steps and ramps are- sometimes we felt like we were climbing straight up and down!
Afterwards we had dinner with a Chinese family whose son will be attending one of our group member's schools in the fall. It was a delicious traditional Chinese meal, and the family was very generous to treat all of us! We had interesting discussions about education, particularly why they want their son to attend school in the US. I am eager to,develop my own perceptions when we visit a school tomorrow and I the other cities o our itinerary
On the way back to the hotel we took a walk to look at the famous bird's nest stadium, a symbol of the 2008 Olympics. We also say the aquatic center.
The highlight of my day was meeting up with Travis Thompson '07 tonight! Travis has been living in Beijing for the past year working for IES, a company that organizes study abroad opportunities in China for college students. He has traveled all over the country, has made many Chinese friends, and I have to say that I admire his adventurousness as he moved half-way across the world soon after graduating from college. Travis shared fascinating insights about Chinese culture, history, economics, as well as how the government works to control information access on the Internet. We also discussed his perceptions of Chinese education and how much he learned at SSSAS, particularly because of the high quality of the teachers. It was so wonderful to see him!