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


We are officially over the halfway mark everybody! Yippee! Take a bow! Well done. You all are doing great. This isnít easy for you parents. Every day you miss your kids just a little bit more (didnít think you could, but you do!), but the good news is each day is a day closer to that really big and special hug youíre gonna get upon their return!! That, my friends, is one huge hug!

This is day 16 of the journey and theyíll be home in 14 days! Two weeks from today!

Okay, so our slooooow, and difficult internet connection in Xiían continues. We do have a few photos for you and two student reports. And we have something really fun to share with you as well. So, in spite of these difficulties in communication with China right now, youíll continue to get your moneyís worth each and every day. That is my promise to you.

So what would you like first? Okay, okay, not everyone at once. Hold it down back there. Okay, okay, OKAY! Weíll see some photos first!

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Even though we donít have the quantity, we continue to have the quality. Hereís a description of activities from Tom:

    We visited the Forest of Stone Tablets yesterday, as well as the Great Mosque and the Muslim Marketplace. Many of the women ordered custom-made clothing in the Muslim marketplace. Can't' wait to see everyone all dressed up with someplace to go.

We talked about the Forest of ďStelesĒ (Stone Tablets yesterday, and provided a few links. The Great Mosque is another of Chinaís ancient and fascinating architecture sights and hereís a description of the Muslim Marketplace:

    ďIn the Muslim area of the city, near the Bell Tower, there is a huge outdoor market that sells almost everything you could ever want! Clothing, antiques, musical instruments, Mao memorabilia as well as other souvenirs and cultural items are all for sale.Ē 

Musical instruments? Well, there goes Adam, Pat, Dylan, Matt . . . hey guys, how are you going to get all that stuff home?

Now letís let Kristen Jones tell us more about how things are going in Xiían. Kristen:

    Kristin Jones, Sophomore
    April 11, 2005

    Hello everyone back home! Wow! I still can't believe that I'm halfway across the world. I love it here. It's the best experience of my life! And I've tried so many foods -- even foods that I hate back home such as broccoli, cauliflower, beans and fish. I hated fish! (Sometimes I don't even know what a food is and I try it anyway! Hey what would be fun about this experience if I didn't try new things? I've smelled new things -- some that I don't ever want to smell again, and I've seen new things so amazing that I can't find words to explain them!

    Today was our first day in Xi'an. Our first stop was where they make replicas of the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. It was cool to see them make the reproductions. Workers were making small ones at the time. They would place clay into two molds and then put the molds together and put them in a kiln at a low-fire setting. The thing that amazed me was that every single warrior was different in the actual setting, and so were the warriors in this collection of reproductions.

    From there we went to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. To actually be able to see something that old and vast was outstanding! When we first arrived at the museum, we watched a 15 minute movie on the making and breaking of the warriors hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Then we went to the different pits of the museum. Each pit was unique. Afterwards we went to lunch and then were allowed a little time for shopping. I love shopping -- but not in China. To tell you the truth, it's really scary. Vendors all come crowding up to you grabbing your arm and asking you to buy something from them,. Shopping here is almost as hard as trying to cross the street (THAT's scary!)

    After that we went to the Wachung Hot Springs -- bath houses for the ancient emperor and empress, as well as the place where Chiang Kei Shek was captured in 1936. I don't think I've ever seen a place so pretty before. If only I could have spent the whole day there. The trees were all blossoming, the flowers were colorful and the view was spectacular. Just thinking about going home to a brown, bare muddy road makes me wish for spring in Vermont.

    At the end of our long day we went for hot pot at a restaurant. It was different. Their rolls were really good! After dinner we went back to the hotel and now I'm writing this entry.

    I have to say this was one of my favorite days here, especially since I saw fireworks as I started writing. (Allyson, they were really cool. I could see them right from the porch off my room.)

    I hope you're all well back home. See you in a few weeks.

    NOTE: We're doing the sites and soaking up history here in Xi'an. Jonathan's report is next. Thursday at crack of dawn we press on to Hohhot and there we really dig into the performance exchange again. More anon -A

These reports really do tell the story. Hereís Kristen who finds the shopping difficult but is willing to eat almost anything over there! Just the opposite of what she is (was?) here at home. This journey does challenge the kids in so many ways.

Well, it is really timely that we get Kristenís report today. I was just thinking yesterday about the fact that by this time in both the 2002 and the 2004 trips, we had already had at least two birthdays, maybe even three. And yet, here we are at the halfway point in this journey and not one mention of a birthday.

Well, the olí JE brain waves must have been cooking over the miles Ďcause I got an e-mail from Andi Anderson (mother of Cody, 2004 JE veteran) with a marvelous once-in-a-lifetime story. I can always count on Andi to come through with some neat stuff and she really came through this time. Hereís the scoop:

Tomorrow (Thursday), April 14th, is Kristin Jones' 16th birthday. Whatís that? Why donít I wait till tomorrow to say something about this? Iím glad you asked. Hereís why. Now pay attention . . .

Cody and Kristen are really good friends. Cody's birthday is today, April 13th. [Happy Birthday Cody!] Cody was kidding Kristen about turning 16 (one day) before she does. Well . . . get ready . . . with Kristen in China, 12 hours ahead of Cody, at noon today (and for the next 12 hours), the two of them will be celebrating their 16th birthdays at the SAME TIME!! How cool is that?!

And that, my friends, is priceless! Thanks for sharing that gem with us Andi. 

    Jonathan Kelley, Freshman
    April 12, 2005

    Today we visited the Confucius Stone Tablet Museum, a jade factory, the
    Xi'an Great Mosque and the Muslim market. When we got back to the hotel, we had a talk with a friend of Tom's from Kunming [in southern China], Wang Ping.

    The Stone Tablet Museum was impressive. There were hundreds of large
    tablets with ancient Chinese writing on them. The many different forms of
    Chinese writing on the inscriptions there represented a number of different time periods, several dynasties in Chinese history. Our guide said that most of the inscriptions would be memorized by children in school. I could not imagine memorizing so much. It would be amazingly hard. I don't believe that memorization is the best form of education. I think that it is very important for each person to process information in his/her own way and draw his own conclusions from it. This is not to say that memorization is not important in school; I just believe that every individual should have his own personal thoughts on things and not just commit to memory the beliefs of another.

    The jade factory was interesting. We learned a little bit about the different varieties of jade and saw a few people carving it. Mostly though, it was a shopping stop that our guide was obligated to do with us. Most of the things in the shop were extremely beautiful and insanely expensive. It was clearly an upper class store. I was very afraid that I was going to break something!

    The Xi'an Great Mosque was very beautiful. I was impressed with the attention to detail there; every bush was trimmed perfectly and everything
    had a purpose. I was surprised that there's a Muslim population here that
    has such a good relationship with the Chinese: It's great to see such a mix of cultures.

    Right outside the Mosque was the Muslim Market. There was a narrow street and on both sides were street vendors selling their wares. The things being sold varied greatly from scrolls to swords and jade sculptures to Mao merchandise. I was very tempted to buy a sword, but I managed not to because I know that if I did, Tom would arrange another trip to the Great Wall just so he could throw me off. One had to haggle a lot to get a good price on anything there. Haggling is a fun challenge, but it can get frustrating at times. The toughest time I had haggling was when I was buying from someone who was really nice. More of the vendors should show their nice sides: They would get much better prices.

    Wang Ping's talk was very interesting. I was especially impressed by what she had to say about Chinese/Japanese relations and Chinese education. Chinese teens are worked incredibly hard in school. Wang Ping's son gets up at 6:30 every day, goes to school, comes home at 7 and studies until midnight. [The average Chinese school community does rest for a couple hours every day after lunch, though.] It sounds like an incredibly depressing and boring schedule. Wang Ping said that because the Chinese academic programs are so intense and time-consuming, teens have problems developing healthy personalities. This is very bad, I think: It seems that having a healthy personality should be seen as just as important as academic work.

    I was shocked at Wang Ping's reaction to the Japanese. She was hoping
    that the Chinese would attack the Japanese government. She said that the Japanese needed to take responsibility for the crimes committed in World War II. It was scary to see the enmity that she showed toward the
    Japanese government. The Chinese government is clearly encouraging nationalistic hatred of the Japanese and I hope that nothing comes of this
    in the future.

    NOTE: We're off to Inner Mongolia tomorrow where, a year ago today (April 13) Cody Anderson was greeted at his first dinner there with a paper crown, a big birthday cake and a gusto-filled rendition of "Happy
    Birthday." Happy birthday, Cody! óAnn

As Jonathan said (and mentioned yesterday), the kids had a class last night with Wang Ping, a friend of Tomís from the Yunnan Province. We have photos from that powerful session and a brief explanation from Tom:

    We had a great two hour seminar with my good friend from Kunming, Yunnan Province, Ms. Wang Ping. Wang Ping's seminar included discussion of the Chinese educational system, Japanese-Chinese relations and growing up during the Cultural Revolution.

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Hey look, thereís Tom! And itís not a group photo! How did that happen?

Okay, so that wraps up another day in the lives of the Journey East 2005 adventure. Today is their last day in Xiían and then itís off to Hohhot. Hohhot is the real meat of this journey. This is where they will work side-by-side with the Mongolian students (some of which visited us here last fall and whom many of our students know, both on this journey and back home here in Vermont) and theyíll be doing performances alone and jointly.

Inner Mongolia is another world for these kids to experience. The fact that they will be there for ten days is huge. We have A LOT to talk about during their stay in Hohhot and with a better internet connection, Iíve got a feeling . . . there will be no lack of photos!

Thanks for hanging in there folks. We have lots of fun stuff in store for the second half of this journey so donít go wandering off . . . and hey, hey, hey . . . letís be careful out there!

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