February 3, 2008
Wall of Possibilities
Two years ago, I was in Beijing for work and got into my head that I needed to see the Great Wall at sunrise. This was much easier said than done... I asked the concierge at the hotel for help getting a taxi at 3:00 AM (to arrive at the Great Wall at 5:00 AM) and that was a dead end. I asked my colleagues, but they couldn't help. And, I asked taxi drivers directly to no avail. Meanwhile, several friends and colleagues became excited by the idea and decided to join me. They agreed to meet me at 3:00 AM in the hotel lobby. Needless to say, I had to figure out a way to make this happen...
I looked around and found an English language school near the hotel. I figured that someone would at least speak English and be able to help me with my quest. I wandered over and was eventually introduced to a 17 year old student high school student who spoke English quite well. I spent some time finding out about him: He was a talented athlete and a musician, and was in the midst of writing his college applications for schools outside of China. He knew of Stanford and said that he dreamed of going there some day. BINGO!
I offered him a deal... If he could help get me and my friends to the Great Wall at sunrise, I would write a letter of recommendation for him for college. It took him a nanosecond to accept my offer. To make a long story short, he made it happen and offered to come along a the translator.
The bad news is that I got sick and couldn't go on the excursion.
The good news is that my friends had an amazing experience.
The bad news is that the car they were in broke down on the way back.
The good news is that if I had gone, I would have missed my flight.
The best news is that this student and I still correspond and plan to meet up again in Australia, where he is now a college student.
Just another reminder that problems can certainly be opportunities...