Journey East Trip to China 2005


Created at Leland & Gray High School in Townshend, Vermont, supported by the Asian Studies Outreach Program (ASOP) at the University of Vermont (UVM), and funded primarily through a grant from the Freeman Foundation,

Journey East, as a whole, consists of the Asian Studies Academy and Sino-American Performing Arts Exchange at Leland and Gray Union High School; the integration of an Asian Studies curriculum throughout the Windham Central Supervisory Union, and the introduction of Chinese language programs into the district.

Dr. Juefei Wang, Director of the Asian Studies Outreach Program University of Vermont, is a recipient of the prestigious Goldman Sachs Award for Excellence in International education, on behalf of the UVM, Asian Studies Outreach Program.

The Leland and Gray Journey East program is deeply indebted, and extends its heartfelt thanks, to Dr. Juefei Wang, without whose effort and support this program would not even be possible!

Thank you Juefei!

Leland & Gray
Journey East IV

Tom Connor
Program Director

Ann Landenberger
Artistic Director

Matt Martyn
Music Director


April 12th. It was just a short two weeks ago the JE gang took to the skies to begin this unknown adventure. The weeks of preparation, hoping you had packed everything they would need . . . and now two weeks have passed. Whew.

Well, as we expected, the internet connection at the hotel in Xi’an is just not up to speed. Tom has called a couple of times to check in and let us know of his frustration with the situation. He and Matt have spent a lot of time trying to find adequate internet access. Access, in itself, is not the problem. Being able to use a computer that has a port available for the transfer of the images, is the problem. And then the speed comes into play to send lots of photos.

By the way, if you are interested in see what kind of accommodations these guys have in Xi’an, Andrea Seaton took the time to find the hotel link for us. Thanks Andrea! Looks like quite the place. May be hard getting a few of these kids to leave on Thursday! Jianguo Hotel.

Anyway . . . this whole thing about the internet connection is just to let you know that while they are in Xi’an, the next couple of days could be lean with regards to photos. But, that won’t stop us from brining you the latest news from the Journey east troupe!

We do have a couple of photos for you so let’s jump all over those right now!

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho (1)

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho (2)

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho (3)

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho (4)

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho (5)02

tn_terra cotta and hua qing ho

Terra Cotta Warriors & Hot Springs

The photos to the top left are at the Terra Cotta Warrior sight. I hope you all are reading about these places. Not only are they quite fascinating, but you’ll be able to better understand the stories you’ll be told when your kids get home. Plus, you can show them how much you know too!

The interesting photo of the two young military women on the right is, of course, our own Kaylene and Lili. They took advantage of an extremely inexpensive opportunity to dress in these costumes for the camera at the Huaqing Hot Springs. Apparently, this is the site of the famous “ Double Twelfth Incident.” For those of you who’d like to know more about this, please click here. If you are not interested, you can just stay put. : )

And the photos in the center of the bottom row shows a few of the kids drooling over their orders for Hot Pot. This is a dish that is made up of a variety of ingredients you choose yourself. A Chinese version of fondue. To make sure you’ll be ready to serve this to your kids when they get home, here are twenty-five tips for cooking Hot Pot.

Okay, good stuff, eh? Yes-siree-bob! We do have a student report for you today, and this one is from Lili Bischof. Lili touches on one of the really hard emotional challenges these kids (and the adults too!) face on this journey. Lili, you’re up . . .

    Lili Bischof, Senior
    April 11, 2005

    [JINAN] As I kick back on my cotton sheets in the Jinan airport hotel, my
    mind wanders freely to yesterday when our group made a brief visit to a village outside of Qufu. When I say village, it's nothing like Townshend village or Williamsville. To the Chinese, the word "village" refers to their manmade town of stone and brick. As we drove up in our Chinese version of a Greyhound tour bus, I was astounded by the small houses made of stone. I noticed many houses had holes in their roofs and unfinished walls as the solemn dirt-caked faces of their inhabitants, the villagers, looked out at us with curiosity. Immediately I felt as if I were intruding on this tiny little village that looked as if it could be in a National Geographic snapshot. Here were dirt poor people trying to make a life for themselves while we "rich" Americans drive up gawking out bus windows,
    cameras in hand. It's unfortunate that traveling by tour bus is the only way to see these villages. If only there were another way to see such a powerful place without feeling like an intruder, I'm sure our group would have taken it.

    We filed off the bus ready to explore this new place. When I got off I was in search of children I could give small gifts to and, I hoped, photograph. As soon as I turned the corner in this zoo-like context, I noticed a family -- a mother, a father, and a baby boy. The boy smiled at me with wide eyes. I peeled a Winnie the Pooh sticker off a full sheet I had and stuck it to his hand. The boy's father nodded at me, thanking me repeatedly. I was surprised at how much a small sticker could mean. Such an insignificant thing. The thought really baffled me, but I moved on nonetheless. This time I walked down a back alley way. To my surprise there were two older women walking towards me, one carrying a baby wrapped in a quilted hat, shirt and pants. I found that odd because it was about 70 degrees F outside. As I grew nearer to the women and child, I felt overcome with emotion. Dressed in my Gap jeans and American Eagle T-shirt, I greeted the two women peeling off another sticker for the baby. The women smiled proudly at the baby boy. I pointed to the camera and asked if I could hold the baby. Excitedly, the women handed him to me. The baby fit warmly into my arms. I've held many babies before, but something about this was different: The baby just sat contentedly on my arm as our picture was taken, cheek to cheek.

    I was flooded with happiness. Having the opportunity to pose with this beautiful baby made me feel warm inside. Beyond that, it was a moment so powerful that words can't even describe it. As I handed the baby back to his mother, I uttered one of the few phrases I know in Chinese: "piao liang" which means "pretty." The mother gracefully beamed from ear to ear.

    As I walked back to the bus, I thought about the many blessings I have in
    America. The everyday things that I take for granted. It seemed that this mother and baby had nothing. They lived in the tiniest of houses, work seemed scarce, health care and education seemed invisible. What amazed me most about the visit with the mother and baby was that they were proud. Proud to be living there. It didn't matter that they had no money and didn't live in a fancy house. Although one can't ignore the needs, it seemed clear that that woman's family was what mattered most to her. People, not material goods, can constitute wealth. I feel fortunate to experience what I have in these past two weeks. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to realize what truly is important in life.

. . .

Tonight (for them), which may very well have passed by the time you read this. Will I ever get with the twelve hour time difference? When Tom called last, he asked if I’d received these few photos he had sent this morning. I thought for a moment. I didn’t recall having received anything this morning. I did receive some about an hour ago though. . . oh, that’s right! This IS morning over there! Sheesh. Okay, sorry, had to share that.

What was I saying . . . oh, tonight Tom has arranged for Wang Ping, a friend of his who is an English teacher in the Yunnan Province, to come to the Hotel and teach a class to the students about growing up in China. Wang Ping will talk about her own youth in the 50s and 60s and then compare that to her daughter’s (age 17) growing up now. They have a special room reserved for them at the hotel and it should be quite interesting.

Their next big tourist visit is the Forest of the Steles. (I’m guessing we’ll get a group shot in front of this one!). And here is more than you’ll ever want to know about the steles.

Okay sports fans, that was a powerful day at the Masters yesterday, wasn’t it? Wow. The tiger is back! (As if he ever left!). We should get some updates of activities from Tom as well as another report, or two.

Now let’s all go to the L&G ball field this afternoon and cheer on our Rebels in their baseball and softball home openers! Both teams look really strong this year. Both games start at 4:30pm. Go Rebels!





Double Twelfth Incident

The Xi'an Incident took place on December 12, 1936. It is also known as the Double Twelfth Incident. After the Incident of September 18, 1936, Japanese imperialists seized the three provinces in northeastern China, and intensified their invasion efforts in the North China. This was a very vital time for the Chinese nation. Yet Chiang Kaishek doggedly persisted in carrying out his reactionary policy "domestic tranquility is a must for the resistance against the Japanese invaders". He commanded the Northeast and the Northwest Armies, headed by Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, to attack the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region. Inspired by the Chinese Communist Party's policy "let us stop the civil war and unite to resist the Japanese aggressors", these two generals put forward to Chiang Kaishek, the proposal of forming a united front with the Communist Party for the resistance drive. Not only did he reject the proposal, but flew to Xi'an to scheme the "suppression of the Communist Party", and "the slaughter of the patriotic youth". Out of patriotism, Zhang and Yang started the famous Xi'an Incident.

Very early on the morning of December 12, 1936 their plan began. Zhang Xueliang, together with Yang Hucheng, ordered a squad of bodyguards, to surround the Huaqing Hot Springs. They fought a fierce battle there, and wiped out Chiang's bodyguards in one vigorous effort. The sound of firing came to Chiang Kaishek, and he was so terrified that he crept out of a window in his nightgown and slippers. What's more, he hurt his back, and lost one of his slippers while crossing over the back wall. He staggered up Lishan Mountain, and hid himself behind a stone in a crevice, halfway up it. Those brave soldiers began to search the mountain immediately after they had rushed into the Five-Room Hall and found that Chiang's hat and clothes were still there and that his quilt was still warm. In the end they found Chiang, and escorted him to Xi'an.

In order to avoid a civil war and try to establish a united national front for the resistance against Japan, Mao Zedong, on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, insisted on a peaceful settlement of the Incident. Therefore, a delegation headed by Zhou Enlai, was sent to Xi'an. Zhou Enlai and his delegates did a large amount of work there and took everything possible into consideration. Ultimately he forced Chiang Kaishek to accept the proposal that was made by his two generals. On December 25, Chiang was freed, and flew to Nanjing. The Xi'an Incident was settled peacefully.

The peaceful settlement of the Incident put an end to the civil war which had lasted for ten years, and accelerated the formation and development of the United National Front for the Anti-Japanese Drive. Moreover, it showed that the beginnings of cooperative relationships between the Communists and Nationalists arrived at a new level. It marked a great turning point in modern Chinese history.


[JE trip 2005] [Dress Rehearsal] [Itinerary] [Press release] [March 29]