Journey East II:
Leland and Gray’s Asian Studies Academy
and Sino-American Performing Arts Exchange

Based on the success of Journey East I, the Freeman Foundation has given Leland and Gray $433,446 for an innovative three-year program that  includes, among other components, a high-school based semester-long program of  study and a Sino-American performing arts exchange in both Spring of 2002 and Spring of 2004.

What will the high-school based part of the program be like?

The program for the spring semesters of 2002 and 2004 will involve several adults and two groups of 22 different students -- including up to five students from outside our district --- in a school-within-a-school type learning environment. Students in this Asian studies "academy" will dive into learning  focused on Asia. In addition, they will engage in collective creation of a performance piece to be presented at various venues in China.

How is it different from Journey East I?

Basically, Journey East I was an after-school and weekend program that  was sandwiched into the rest of our school lives. We then went to China for 16 days in April 2000, and on return, spent a few days touring Vermont to tell of our  experiences.

Journey East II responds to many of the needs for change perceived after Journey East I. Participants all said they would like to have had more time in China and/or they’d like to have not been rushed through certain experiences. Many reported after the experience that, as wonderful and "life-altering" as it was, they’d like to have had more time engaging in study of the culture and art of Asia before traveling abroad.

Therefore, the trip planned in Journey East II is nearly a month long. And that will follow several weeks of study within the school day. Moreover, the creation of the  performance piece will happen primarily within the school day -- thus eliminating  the stress and strain placed on participants after school during Journey East I.

Who will be involved?

Two different groups of 22 students will be enrolled; the first group in the spring of 2002 and second group of 22 in the spring of 2004. The program is open to high school students in Leland and Gray Union High School and other students  within the WCSU choice region. The plan is to assemble a group that will consist  of a writer, two backstage crew, a videographer and 18 performers, as well as two artistic directors, a project coordinator, and one or two other adults.

What does a participant’s school day look like?

A student’s weekly program consists of:study of Asian-American and Asian literature in translation; study of Chinese geography, history, philosophy and politics; study of Mandarin with a native speaker; training in Chinese brush painting and Tai Chi; study of Asian performance traditions and content, chorus  for many participants, and engagement in a performance workshop. In addition, we will take as many field trips as we can to see performances and exhibits at  sites and in cities within a day’s trip of Townshend. Each participant will have  an average of a half-block free each day.

Tell me more about the trip abroad.

It will be nearly a month-long excursion (tentatively from April break  through early May) through China during which we’ll perform for a variety of  audiences, visit a spectrum of sites and connect with people in Beijing, Qufu of Shandong Province, Xaian of Shaanxi Province and Hohhot of Inner Mongolia. Participants will stay at hotels, university guest quarters and at the homes of  hosts throughout the course of the excursion. On return from China, we will  travel the state to perform and talk to kids in Vermont elementary and middle schools about the experiences of JE II.

Will I get to spend time with Chinese kids?

Yes. The final part of the trip will see participants spending roughly a week  at a host school where they’ll develop a collaborative piece with performers at  that school. That experience will meld Asian and Western performance traditions and it will give all students involved a chance to interact and learn from each other.

What about the other courses I want to take and need to take?

Students will be encouraged to fulfill math and science requirements during a  semester when the Academy does not meet. They will receive English, Social  Studies and fine arts credit through music. We are exploring options for other  fine arts credit for art experience and P.E. credit for daily Tai Chi  instruction and practice. Juniors are encouraged to take U.S. History and  English 11 during the fall of the Academy year. Students with individual needs and concerns regarding other courses should see Mr. Connor and arrange discussion with Ms. Broom as needed.

Who will my teachers be?

Tom Connor and Ann Landenberger will work full-time in the Academy during the  Spring of 2002 and 2004; part-time faculty will include Ron Kelley, guest artists from the area and China, guest lecturers from the University of Vermont, Marlboro College, Wesleyan College, and the Five Colleges, and a Tai Chi  instructor. In addition, with the assistance of Neil Manders, students will  engage in Interactive Learning and in the maintenance of electronic  portfolios.

If I’m a participant, what will be expected of me after Spring of  2002?

Part of the exchange calls for students from the Inner Mongolia Performing Arts College to come visit and perform in Vermont for three weeks in the fall of  2002. All participants will be expected to help host that group -- in one of many possible ways -- during that time.

How much will it cost?

The cost per person is significant but, thanks to the Freeman Foundation, we  are only asking that each participant contribute $700 to that cost. Project  directors will do all they can to help students raise funds through sponsors, work, etc.

[Journey East 2002]