A Capstone Great Wall of China Engagement Story

One of our favorite things about what we do at WorldStrides is hearing our students’ stories from their trips upon their return. They tell us about the sites they saw, the foods they ate, and the people they met. Blake used one of our WorldStrides Capstone programs to not only experience another culture, but to propose to his girlfriend. Read their Great Wall of China engagement story, as told by Blake:

At the culmination of my Master’s of Business Administration program, I had the exciting opportunity to attend a cultural business trip hosted by WorldStrides following graduation. The trip was to China, and, as the details of the trip emerged, I became both excited and nervous about my first time overseas. At that time, I had been dating my girlfriend, Kristin, for over two years, so I decided to invite her on the trip of a lifetime. Kristin was apprehensive at first, mostly because she’s stingy with her vacation time from work, but she finally agreed to leave the U.S. of A. for the first time ever.

Despite the culture shock, the trip was eye-opening and life-changing. I was definitely out of my comfort zone at times when I was forced to wear a business suit for many hours in structurally questionable buildings with no air conditioning. And the squatting toilets (often lacking toilet paper) that were found in many of the tourist sites took some getting used to, but we managed, adjusted accordingly, and had fun exploring with great friends. What we found in China were nights of talent-filled karaoke, lots of crazy drivers, lazy susans, and bottled water. Soon after arriving, we purchased a selfie stick for around two American dollars. This proved to be a wise investment, as it allowed us to take enough pictures to cover a house.

As the trip came to an end, we looked forward to the last day of the trip, when our group had planned to see the Great Wall of China. The day finally came, and, as we embarked towards the Wall, there were a few unexpected things: 1. The Great Wall of China is steep, and sometimes the easiest way to climb it is to get on your hands and feet. There’s a lot of sweating involved. 2. The Great Wall of China is breathtakingly beautiful. Amid the overcrowded city, the Great Wall stands out against the gorgeous countryside and shows that the simplicity of a wall that stood for protection can make a beautiful and utterly timeless place to take pictures or propose to your girlfriend.

Great Wall of China Engagement
Blake proposing to Kristin on the Great Wall of China.

After arriving at the Wall, our group took the steeper but less crowded section of the Wall. We climbed until the crowds thinned out and we seemed to be ahead of the pack. It was there, with a picturesque view of the countryside of Beijing on a landmark that had withstood thousands of years of a changing nation, that I decided to pop the question. I was sure to include how long the flight back would be if she happened to say no. Luckily, she didn’t! Though it took some wiggling of her swollen fingers, the ring finally slid on. Our trip truly was the trip of a lifetime.

A special thanks to Chris Meyers who was there to capture it all on camera!


Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.