T-minus 2

It’s back to Beijing . . . and then home!!

Today the group is back in Beijing. They’ll all get to spend some time at Silk Alley and the Friendship Store. If the kids have any money left . . . this is where it will stay.

The group will be in constant motion from now until they board the plane on Tuesday. Here’s a brief update from Tom.

We had our "Farewell Banquet" [in Hohhot] last night. Have just arrived in Beijing. The banquet: tears, tears and more tears! A very difficult parting with kids and adults who we have come to know, respect and develop warm friendships with in such a short time. Such a powerful experience for all of the Americans and the Chinese/Mongolians who were involved.


  • The Summer Palace in the afternoon.
  • Visit, including a home visit, to School Year Abroad's Program in Beijing. This is the Beijing version of the program that Devin is involved in in Italy. Parents should check out: www.sya.org and follow the yellow brick road to the site on SYA Beijing.

A warning to parents: your kids may be pleading with you to find a way back here soon. Tom

Memories and photographs . . .

Okay. So you thought you could get through a month of this without a test, did you? Hahahaha. Well, here you go. Let’s see how well you’ve been paying attention?

Journey East 2004 Quiz

To keep you occupied until the next report and photos, here’s a little quiz to see if you have been paying attention. I told you there’d be a quiz. Good luck:

  1. What is the name of the show being performed by the Journey East 2004 troupe?
  2. Name the five major cities the group visited in China and Inner Mongolia.
  3. Can you name (first name only) all the kids, and the adults of this Journey East group?
  4. The heading above the big camel picture refers to what Academy Award winning movie?
  5. Early on in the trip, they visited a square and a special city. What were the names of these places?
  6. What is “Hot pot?”
  7. Conor “came to the rescue” for Joel with a special gift. What was this gift?
  8. Who celebrated birthdays during the journey?
  9. Who is the principal of the Qufu Middle School.
  10. There is a poem the students recite throughout their journey. What is the name of the poem?
  11. They visit one of the five sacred mountains in China. What is the name of this mountain?
  12. At the time of this trip, what is the name of the Chinese currency and how many of these equal one American dollar?
  13. There is reference to one of the five most beautiful women in Chinese history. What is her name?
  14. The group enjoyed ice cream at a dairy near Hohhot. What is the name of that diary?
  15. How many group (the whole gang) photos are shown in the web site?
  16. What is the name of the collaborative dance the group performed in Hohhot?
  17. Who was Jao Jung?
  18. Name ten people the group met (collectively or individually) during the trip.
  19. What was the name of the desert the group visited?
  20. What game did some of the kids play in Hohhot?
  21. What is the name of the director of ASOP that has played an instrumental role in the success of the Journey East program?
  22. What person is most associated with Qufu?
  23. Kim met a man who walks to the top of Jao Jung’s garden to do what?
  24. If it is 9:00a.m. here, what time is it in China?
  25. In one word, from your perspective, describe this Journey East 2004 adventure.

I am sure all the families are getting their houses ready for their child’s return. Tomorrow will be the final day for the JE group to enjoy China, as they scramble to do all their “last-minute” shopping, packing, and picture taking.

In some ways it is hard to believe this journey is coming to an end. The group took off the end of March with winter still hanging on. Now, a month later, the grass is green, the leaves are starting to pop out on the trees, and everyone is thinking summer. A lot has changed since these kids left for China. But most importantly, the kids themselves have changed.

To help with this transition the families will be going through, Bill Conley shares some helpful information:

Hello all parents and leaders of JE participants,

I work at the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro and my wife Christie and I have experienced living abroad and studied the intercultural field enough to know that people returning from extended experiences overseas can experience what is known as either "reverse culture shock" or "re-entry shock".

This time in China is probably the most significant experience of JE kids' lives and when they return I think it's useful for us at home to be aware that they can have a whole range of responses to the "strangeness of being home." Combine this with the normal emotional ups and downs of adolescent life and you can "expect the unexpected", a term used a lot around SIT. I'll try to be brief with some descriptions of the feelings of reentry shock below with the caveat that every parent knows; every one deals with experience differently and uniquely.

  • Be aware that there may be no words to adequately describe aspects of the experience JE participants have had. "How was China?" is an all-too-common question people living abroad get and they often feel that the question is not followed by a real interest to hear the answer(s). That's often because the questioner is trying to be polite and isn't sure what else to ask.. They may not be able to relate to the answers anyway because they have no background in a similar experience. Also, as a returnee, how do you respond to such an open-ended question when the depth of your experience is often ineffable?
  • Be aware that they may feel alienation as much as exhilaration at being home.
  • Be aware that as parents and siblings your behaviors may be under greater scrutiny than before. They've seen and experienced first hand other ways of being in the world, especially at the socio-economic level, and they may have a new perspective that the homecoming experience triggers and they are still trying to make sense of. Sometimes this sense-making isn't a comfortable process for the returnee and the family.
  • There can be a "why doesn't anyone want to see my slides?" feeling by the returnee. Returnees often feel that everyone is so busy in their lives and their own agendas that they have no understanding or interest in "what I've gone through". This relates to #1 above.

I think it's best not to offer prescriptions but to just put out that these are common experiences and we "stay at homes" often have to give returnees a really wide berth and help them communicate their experience in their own ways in their own time. It might good for parents to prompt siblings to be prepared for not so smooth a return and to understand it as part of the whole amazing process.

When they return, they'll be right back with each other in structured settings where they all speak the same "language" and can share the reentry experience with each other. that's such a positive thing on top of a truly remarkable learning experience. Tom and Ann and Matt probably have seen the whole gamut of responses and have the perspective on some of the behaviors. I thought it would be good to mention the “re-entry shock phenomenon” to raise awareness.

Bill Conley

Thanks Bill.

Okay everyone. That’s it for today. We hope you have fun working through the quiz. Answers will be posted after the journey’s end. We look forward to some final photos of the trip and then it’s off to the airport on Tuesday to see some long-awaited smiles and get those million dollar hugs!!

See you tomorrow!