Wow Moment

posted by Maya

All five of us knew going into this trip that there would be challenges. The challenge of living with less (although I’m not so sure we’re actually living with LESS, considering all of the souvenirs we’ve picked up in China); the challenge of homeschooling; the challenge of keeping in touch with friends; even the challenge of just being together 24 hours a day. Of course, we’ve been having so much fun, too, but there are many times when I just want to go home. “What am I doing here, in the middle of China in November? We’re crazy,” I think.

Being 13, it seems that these challenges are hitting me the hardest. It’s much more difficult for me to live with less than my sisters or parents. Really, what 13 year old girl wants to wear the same thing every day? Homeschooling is extremely frustrating for me too. How do I find time everyday to do an entire math class worth of lessons plus the days homework, plus required reading, PLUS journaling and blogging? Then there’s the situation of keeping in touch. Trying to call friends and cousins 12 time zones away is not easy. It’s always the middle of the night somewhere! And of course, the challenge of being together all the time. There’s nowhere to go for alone time. It’s usually just us, 24/7, which can get a little annoying.

When China rolled around, three months in, we were all feeling the difficulties of the trip pretty hard. There was more bickering and silly disputes. We all were craving more alone time, which was nearly impossible in the hostel room with six bunk beds where we had been staying. By the time we got to Beijing, the weather in Northern China was cold and dreary, which didn’t do much for group harmony.

The Great Wall goes through Beijing. It is not something to be missed (or so all of the guide books said), so we signed up for a tour with our hostel. The weather the day of our tour was particularly ugly, and we were already annoyed at each other by the time the bus dropped us and the other guests off. But it was too late to back out now. Our tour bus drove away and the five of us (a young Finnish couple, a friendly Spanish/Puerto Rican couple from Chicago, a thirtyish Filipino guy, and our bubbly tour guide Emily) were left shivering in the freezing rain.

There was a rare quiet moment when we stopped our bickering and stared up at the enormous wall looming above us. It stretched so far that we couldn’t even see the ends. This was when the magic began. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I found myself standing on top of the Great Wall of China. Let’s take a minute to appreciate this: the Great Wall is the longest man made structure in the world, and can (allegedly) be seen from space. From outside of the Earth! I just couldn’t believe it. I was standing on the GREAT WALL OF CHINA, something that, at this time last year, I had been reading about in a textbook! All of the stress of the trip melted away as I stood there, in the rain, gazing out at China. Finally, this trip seemed real. I was glad I was where I was. Of course, I knew this didn’t mean I wasn’t going to fight with my sisters or parents. I knew it wouldn’t make trying to fit a year’s worth of clothes in my pack any easier. I knew it couldn’t change the time difference between wherever we were and home. But I did know that everything would be okay, and that I would definitely benefit from this trip in the long run. And at that moment, I was happy. I was alive. I was in awe. I was in China!

Categories: China | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Wow Moment

  1. Keri

    What a great post Maya. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing all of this with us. There are many of us back in the states, some of us who have never met you guys, who look forward to your posts and updates. The adventures you guys are having are amazing and are memories you will have forever. I am sure that traveling the world is not always as glamourous as it may seem but it is great that you can keep it all in perspective and appreciate the adventure and time with the family. Have fun, safe travels and keep those posts coming!

  2. Wow backatacha Maya! What an unbelievable post. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs and your awestruck feeling at THE Great Wall. You guys are all amazing for doing this great adventure! xo Lisa

  3. kareen

    Maya- you are so articulate! I hope you have many more WOW moments and also the maturity to recognize them when they pop up! We love you- k

  4. Ron Diamond

    You already had your bat mitzvah and are thus considered an adult. Adults don’t have to listen to people (parents). I think now is the perfect time for you to become more independent and do what you want, not what your parents say you have to do.
    What are they going to do if you decide you’d like to dine by yourself one night? Send you to your room? You don’t have a room! Every child, even the good ones (I’m told) goes through a rebellious period. You have an incredible opportunity to have yours now! Take a stand
    and make a statement! Do what you want to do — not what your parents say you have to do! You can make this incredible experience only about you — not about your family. If you throw a tantrum, it’s not like your parents are going to just leave you in the middle of a remote city
    in China. You have all of the leverage. If your tired of China tell your parents you want to go somewhere else. You might even want to demand to go home (you do have an awesome bedroom). Be firm and don’t cave in to your parents!
    Love you and miss you!

  5. Sari Bari Grossman

    You have amazing writing skills! That little piece of writing there should be published in a book! It almost brought me to tears. I hope you’re still having a good time!
    P.S. You can’t see the Great Wall from space. It’s a like a rumor says Mr. Finneran. He would know 🙂

  6. Judy Weiner

    Dear Maya, I loved your post on China. I expected to hear thoughts like you had only maybe sooner. It’s tough to change your whole life for so long. The rewards sound worth the problems. We are enjoying all of your experiences & blogs. The Goldman Family sure can write some amazing stories!! Keep them coming. Love, Auntie Judy

  7. If only you were here, Ron…..

  8. Maya, I loved this post. Some moments really define your growing up experience, and I bet you’ll never forget the moment you described here. How wonderful that you wrote it down and captured it, and how lucky for us to be reading it. I hope you’ll keep writing even after the trip ends!

    • Hi Brenda! Thanks for leaving a comment for Maya. I hope she’ll continue writing too. Can you send over the names of your books so I can get them for her?

  9. sara appel

    mayaa!! you are a verryy good writer! hope you had so much fun in china now i know you were at the great wall of china in your profile picture…i didnt really know what it was at first. but now i do! have an amazzingg time!!LOVE YOUU-sara

  10. Moshe and Rollie Frank

    Maya, Are you sure you’re only 13? You’re much more mature than most of the adults I’ve come in contact with. Keep it up, and enjoy a wonderful opportunity that doesn’t come to most. We’re really enjoying all of your familys blogs. Moshe and Rollie

    • Hi Moshe and Rollie….you are two of our most loyal followers! Thanks for reading and for posting the comments. We are still talking about our visit to Ein Harod. Happy Hanukah from all of us.

  11. Come back to Europe. We have walls here. Awesome post, maya. loved it! .


  12. erica

    Oh Mayay G! You have words and wisdom beyond your years. My only WOW moment this week came at Costco when I found that they sold our favorite cereal. Your WOW moment is so much better. And remember, WOW upside down is MOM. So contrary to Uncle Ron’s comments, don’t rebel yet and run away. Without Mom and Dad, those WOW moments wouldn’t be possible. Besides, running away from Thailand puts you where? Alone in Burma? I think you’re better off sticking around, annonying family and all!

    Have fun! We miss you!

  13. nison and doreen

    Maya, your writing is so beautiful. So mature, way beyond your actual years. We love it.
    ANd , hooray for Erica. Now there is a wonderful viewpoint. I truly love people who think as I do. They are right on!
    Miss you all and love you all. See you in June.
    Grandpa and Monga

  14. Maya — Your words about China and The Great Wall are so beautiful and so inspiring. I can only imagine the challenges you all are facing in this adventure. But it is so amazing to see the photographs and read your blogs and get your personal perspective. Thank you for sharing.
    Lots of Love, Tracey, Mitch, Ethan, and Sadie

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