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Local community benefits from the Great Wall


01-23-2017 10:27 BJT

Wen Xianxiang and his family have run this establishment for three years. What they provide is agri-tainment, also known as farm-based tourism. Those who drop by are mostly tourists visiting the Great Wall at Mutianyu. This place is not just his home. This is his business and pride.

"We are the largest family hotel in Huairou district, and can provide food for up to 300 people and accommodation for 110," said Wen Xianxiang, a family hotel owner.
30 years ago, everyone in Wen’s village was a farmer. But in 1984, things changed. At that time, 29-year old Wen was recruited by the government to restore Mutianyu village.

“We got 60 kuai a month, almost 2 a day. But it was really hard work. We had to carry stones and sand on our back and sometimes relied on animals for transportation. After we finished restoration of the Great Wall, we cleaned it and picked up the garbage.” said Wen Xianxiang.

In order to keep the Great Wall's original appearance, traditional building methods were used.

It took almost four years for the villagers to finish the project. And thanks to the number of tourists from both home and abroad, everyone from the village is now living a better life.

Wen said that at one point, the villagers were so poor they used to steal bricks from the Wall to sell. Prosperity and a sense of pride changed that. Now they hope that the Great Wall will be well preserved for the decades to come.

“From a poor settlement to a holiday resort… this village has attracted fancy hotels and restaurants, and provided jobs for over 300 people.” said Yang Yan from Beijing.

120 kilometers away is Lin Xing Qin school. It sits at Jinshanling, another section of the Great Wall.

What makes this school special is the fact that it was built with the help of a community organization devoted to the protection of the Great Wall.

Zhi Jin is one of the volunteers. The organization drops by almost once a month to provide assistance.

"We help the school improve its facilities, introduce quality education resources, donate books and read to the children, as well as teach them the history and preservation of the Great Wall.” said Zhi Jin, a Great Wall protection volunteer.

Today, he is the teacher.

It took him a week to create the teaching materials. Knowing the Great Wall inside-out is not easy. And it’s even more challenging to pass on that knowledge in an easy and interesting way.

These children are growing up along the Great Wall. But they seem to know little about it. After this lesson, they seem more interested in protecting it.

This organization is helping 16 other schools. Zhi Jin and the other members believe educating the children living along the Great Wall is a way of preserving the structure.

"They have immediate access to the Great Wall. Basic protection work relies on them. If they know the importance of protecting the Great Wall from an early age, they will carry it out and this information will spread, even to tourists.”  said Zhi Jin.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. And this village wants its children to know what the grownups at Mutianyu know: how and why to protect the cultural heritage that's their home,” said Yang Yan, from Jinshanling, Heibei province.

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