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


The server has been down since last night, preventing the site from being updated today. We are just now able to post this page at 4:30pm.

The good news is JE group has landed safely in Hohhot!

Before we get started with today’s show, we have one thing to say:

Happy Birthday Kristen!

Kristen’s birthday was celebrated upon their arrival in Hohhot. Last year, Cody Anderson’s birthday was celebrated on arrival in Hohhot. Does this mean a tradition is born?

The birthday party was huge and a ton of fun (can you say food fight?) and here are some photos to prove it!

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Now THAT’s a party! Sweet Sixteen in China!

Many of you probably recognize, Juefei’s nephew, Hu Jai (he’s the one wearing the cake icing on his face (middle right photo). He does so much to help the group’s journey a success!

Here’s Tom’s update on the events so far:

    Kristin will have great birthday parties in the future, I am sure, but never one like this. I think the pictures tell the story. What a great time; surrounded by many of the Mongolian friends who visited Vermont in October; music by Cunbule and Cergule on the horsehead fiddles; Happy Birthday sung in Chinese and English by Jia Li and in Mongolian by Yiruletu, the gentleman in the brown jacket who is the Director of the Foreign Affairs Office. The cake was to die for, the company was as nice as could be imagined and Kristin and the other kids were very moved  It is all about the people up here in Inner Mongolia. We couldn't have had a better start.

    I spent two hours today helping with an orientation for the host families, deciding who would be going to which house, what they might do for activities, do's and don'ts, food preferences, how to use the bathrooms and how to pronounce names. That was an interesting aspect of the afternoon. I pronounced each name and then told them, jokingly, that there was going to be a test. Sure enough, everyone thought I was serious so we did have a test. Everyone passed. The grades ranged from C to A+. Of course Lu Shu Ping and Li Shixiang had quite a head start on the other hosts as they spent three weeks with us, being hosted by George Bernegger and Jean McIntire and Li Shixiang by Andrea and Mike Seaton and Louise McDevitt and Mike Piniewski. I made sure that Katherine and Kate would be with Mr. LI. Carrie will be with President Li, as will Stephanie. Myles Ellison had e-mailed Yi Li's daugter and told her that Julianne's brother Adam was with us so we negotiated a trade and now have Adam Rucker with Yi Li and family. I was beginning to feel like the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox as we were drafting and trading kids all over the place.

    Our host families in Vermont should know that these Chinese and Mongolian hosts are at least as nervous as they were last fall. What an exciting day. By the way, many of the Chinese and Mongolians in the photos were our guests in Vermont. Tom

Every day, no matter what, is filled to the brim with excitement, surpise, adventure, learning, emotion, and on and on. We have a few photos from Xi’an, But let’s first read Corey’s report on yesterday’s events: The floor is yours , Corey . . .

    Cory Kraft, Senior
    April 13, 2005

    The day began with the sight of stone and the smell of incense. Rising out of Dacien Temple is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. My initial reaction to the name was quite skeptical. Sounded to me like a ride at Disney World. When the pagoda was in sight I completely reneged on my previous thought. As we entered the Buddhist temple the sun began to shine high in the azure sky. My mind focused on the history of Buddhism and I let my eyes wander around. To my left and right were bell and drum towers, evoking the larger towers with the same names that guard Xi'an's old city wall. In front of me a seven story stone pagoda rose above the temple rooms. As we wandered through the courtyard our hands found soft bushes like giant green fuzzy doggies. We wanted to dive into them and swim among the soft leaves. The trees snaked around above our heads, as the sweet smell of incense filled our nostrils. A rack of candles lit up our eyes. I knew this was a special place.

    We soon learned about the quest to bring Buddhism to China. As we walked up the steps to the temple we thought about the many miles one monk walked. Over snow capped mountains and across the desert all the way to India, returning home with the writings of Buddhism. Each of the 249 steps up to the top of the seven-story Pagoda seemed miniscule compared to this quest.

    The view from the top was most rewarding. One side overlooks beautiful gardens filled with mini pagodas and flowering bushes. From another side you can see temple buildings hiding underneath the trees. Another view is of a massive square behind the temple, filled with people and dotted with fountains. The last view overlooks the beautiful courtyard that we just walked through. Each side had possessed its own beauty. I knew I was in a powerfully moving place. All seemed in harmony.

    This Taoist ideal of harmony in a Buddhist temple prompted Tom to throw big words around. China has a "syncretic" religious system-- many Chinese value Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian principles at the same time: That may be tough for monotheistic minds to conceptualize. Regardless of one's religion, Dacein Temple was beautiful and spiritually significant for many of us, a place not to be forgotten.

    Barreling through sickness and fatigue we continued our adventure at the Shaanxi History Museum, one of the most extraordinary museums in all of China. In chronologically ordered exhibits, we saw ancient artifacts of Chinese culture beginning with prehistoric times. My favorite artifact was a set of chime bells measuring from about five inches to twenty-four inches. I would love to hear their ancient sound.

    The most impressive thing about the museum was the age of the artifacts we saw-- jade from thousands of years ago, bronze from the Zhou Dynasty two-thousand years ago, and mini-people sculptures from five hundred years ago.

    A point of interest for me was how the artifacts were presented. Western museums attempt to preserve and display artifacts by putting fragments together, but not altering them. Many of the artifacts we saw were incomplete; the pieces were arranged as the whole object and gaps were filled in with plaster. The Chinese believe in "filling the holes so as to give an idea of what the artifact looked like in its full form." They did a good job of that, but the sight of white plaster on pottery from thousands of years ago was quite unusual.

    These two amazing places helped teach the rich, vast history of China, one that dwarfs that of the United States. I'm proud to be learning what I am about Chinese history -- this is clearly a monumental culture in many ways -- and I am glad that I have been able to learn about it in such beautiful place. Special thanks go out to our tour guide who, as a sparrow gathers sticks for a nest, gathers an enormous amount of information, striving to teach us. Xi'an, a former imperial capital, has been a core place for the history of China -- from its Terra Cotta Warriors to its temples and stone tablets. I'm happy, too, that we did not just visit Xi'an, but experienced an unforgettable live history class.

Thanks Corey, for sharing your appreciation and recognition of the powerful impact this “live learning” has on all of you.

Now, let’s enjoy a few photos from Xi’an:



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The bottom photos are of the Wild Goose Pagoda (remember reading about this a couple of days ago? Uh, huh, I am glad you are doing your homework. Remember the test!)

Today marks the last major turn in the journey’s direction. The group leaves behind the experience of the monster city Xi’an and moves ahead to a real down-to-earth life in Inner Mongolia. It is in Hohhot where these kids will truly find themselves. Everything they have done up to this point has been preparing them for what they are about to encounter over the next 10-12 days.

The kids have experienced highs and lows emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They have had two weeks to “shake the sillies out,” so-to-speak. They are now comfortable with themselves and with being in China, enough so they can focus on the real job that lies ahead.

While in Hohhot, they will reunite with some Inner Mongolian students, with whom they became good friends during their visit to Vermont last fall. They will work side-by-side with these, and other students, as they study, create and rehearse their collaborative performance pieces. Our students will perform several times in the days ahead, so many wonderful performance photos await!.

Lifetime friendships will be created in the next dozen days. Many of the ‘02 and ‘04 JE kids still communicate with their Mongolian friends they met on their respective journeys.

So let’s find out a little about Inner Mongolia and Hohhot while we have the time:

  • Hohhot (pronounced (hoe-haught) is the capital of Inner Mongolia. Population 2 million.
  • Inner Mongolia is bordered by Mongolia and Russia on the north.
  • It covers 1.1 million square km, with a population of nearly 23.8 million.
  • It is often referred to as the “Blue City.”
  • Anything else you want to know? Well, then be my guest and visit this link.

Do any of you know the symbol of Hohhot?

That’s it for now. We’ll keep this page current as any info comes in throughout the day.

Just think, two weeks from today and your kids will be in their rooms, sleeping . . . what a nice thought, eh? It’s not like we want to rush them through this magnificent journey, but hey, we miss the kids (and spouses!)!

Hope you all have a great day!





















































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