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


Hey! This is a big day everybody. I’m sure you veteran JE-ers know what day this is. It’s the beginning of the countdown!

T-minus 10 days and counting . . .

That’s right, We are in the final stretch.

Well, everyone is keeping very, very busy in Hohhot. Lots to do and they are doing a lot. The group had another collaborative session, met with their host families, and attended an absolutely beautiful performance (I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the performers from last fall’s visit).

We are going to get started with a report from Stephanie, as she tells us how she’s fallen in love . . . with Inner Mongolia!

    Stephanie Larson, Sophomore
    April 15, 2005

    Wow! Inner Mongolia!  We have now been here two days and I am in love. The weather is beautiful, the food is great -- as always -- and the people are amazing.

    It all started when we were greeted at the airport by 30 people including news reporters and photographers. I immediately saw some of the people who had visited Vermont this fall. They were all in the distance as we got our luggage and hit the WC. As we filed out into the airport lobby, cameras in our faces, we were getting hugs, kisses and handshakes from every direction. I felt like a close family member who had been away for years and was just returning home even though I was beat and felt crummy with a cold. We had nothing but a small voice rehearsal planned for the whole day. I was bummed that we weren’t going to see any of the Mongolian students until the next morning.   On my way to dinner, as I got off the elevator, I saw a mob of people coming towards me. Confused and dazed I was trying to listen to my American friends to get a handle on what was going on. I heard a lot of people saying. “Some of the Mongolians are here…” I asked where and then all of a sudden Tian Yuan, one of my close friends, comes running around the corner and gives me a big hug. I was really surprised and overjoyed. Carrie told me then that Qi Muge was also upstairs so I ran up to find her. It was great to reunite with them. It was also Kristin’s birthday. It must have been the best birthday party ever. It was a blast and a good kick off to our many days together here with our Mongolian friends. It is amazing because of our cultural differences, but I am closer with them than I am with a lot of my American peers. That’s a powerful statement, but it’s true. It feels like our whole relationship was put on hold or pause and we just pushed the play button. We started right off where we left off this past fall in Vermont.

    And then today! I have to say that it was the best day here so far!  We started out with a yummy breakfast, and then headed off to the Arts College for the first time. I was excited and I think everyone else was, too. In the morning we just hung out and got to reconnect with everyone [while Matt, Tom and Ann worked out the plans for the 10-day collaboration] It was pretty emotional. Then we started to learn the words of the Mongolian song we’re going to perform with them. We had lunch and a break then headed back to the college for dance class. It was really fun and I happened to be taught by my two friends, Tian Yuan and Wurina. The dance is really fun and we seem to be learning it quickly because we enjoy it. At least we girls are! A lot of our boys don’t really dance [but they’re looking mighty good!]  After dance class we sang through the Mongolian song and hopefully got most of the bugs out. We also performed “Brothers”* for them. Then we headed out to prepare for the welcome banquet. We had an amazing time. There was a lot of food, beautiful live music and good socializing.

    I look forward to many more days here. I now feel as if we’re one family here and I think that I could call this a second home. I know that I will come here many more times. That’s a promise I’ll keep.

If you don’t have a huge smile on your face right now, you must have been reading something other than Stephanie’s report! Stephanie is such a fun and lively person and it sounds like she is right at home with her Mongolian friends in Hohhot!

The song Stephanie mentioned follows. Ann explains . . .

    There’s so much to say about our time here in Inner Mongolia, but we’ve just returned from a very full day of joint rehearsals in the morning, a wonderful afternoon and evening with host families, and then an evening performance by students at the attached high school here. We’ll tell you more about this day anon. In the meantime, I wanted to share the text for the song we’re teaching the Inner Mongolians. Ron taught it in chorus and it’s clearly the best tune to share here. Matt typed out the words so our interpreter could translate it for the students here. The words tell it all:

Text by Miles J. Martin

    Who is that man in garments quaint and rare?
    Who is he who speaks in rhythms alien to my ear?
    Who is he? Who is he?
    To him I am as strange as he to me.
    And in his questing eyes, I read a silent plea.
    Who are you? Who are you?
    How sad it is, we do not know each other.
    But when he smiles, at once I recognize, my brother.
    I hope that he can see in me, his brother.

Wan an. —Annie


Let’s check out photos from that morning collaborative rehearsal session.

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Day Two
Collaborative Rehearsal

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Next, we’ve got photos of the kids with various host family members. If you find your child is not among the pictures here, Tom explains apologetically (frankly, I don’t know how he manages to get all the fab photos he does!):

    I may have missed one or two of the students heading off to a home visit. Things got a little crazy for the five or ten minutes when hosts came to pick up their students. Everyone had a great time. Many students came back absolutely stuffed with food. A Chinese will never, ever, let a guest go home without having eaten as much food as they can prepare. Some students brought musical instruments to the homes, most brought photo albums of home and all brought gifts for and received gifts from their hosts. Matt helped Sun Xiaoyan, one of our guides, and her mother make dumpling, which we disposed of after much effort. The best either of us has ever had. Each group had a different experience and I'm sure we'll see some reflection, in writing, from the students on that.

Roll ’em:

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Host Families

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One big happy family . . . what better opportunity to learn about Inner Mongolia than to live it! Oh, the stories they will tell.

Now the group had the pleasure of watching a performance which, from the looks of the photos, was a show plentiful in color and magnificence. For those of you fortunate enough to have attended the show put on by our Mongolian guests (see pictures of their visit - fall ‘04) at the high school last fall, you know hoe exciting this really is.

And now, we have a really big shew for you tonight . . . can you say
S P E C T A C U L A R ?

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I told you so. : ) Pretty amazing, huh?

Tom clues us in on yet another busy day (which they will be recovering from by the time you read today’s update:

    We have a busy day [Sunday]. Collaboration and then a 2 hour rehearsal of our production this morning and then we'll visit the Inner Mongolia Provincial Museum, go to Inner Mongolia University and visit the Library and Folk Customs showroom and attend a lecture on the study of Mongolian culture. Matt and I have a lunch engagement with Baohong, the dancer who stayed with Jenny, Devin and me this fall.

To learn more about some of these places and events:

That wraps it up for today folks. Another full day for the JE gang and another full day of updates, reports, and photos. I can begin to feel the intensity building up to their final performance in Hohhot. In less than two weeks, we’ll be sitting in the L&G gym watching the product of this journey perform for us.

Before we close, here is your “Inner Mongolia” lesson for the day. (Hey, why should the kids be the only ones having to study?) You are studying as we go, aren’t you?

There are 56 ethic nationalities in China. Inner Mongolia claims to have 36. Here are percentages of the top five in Inner Mongolia:

Han - 79%
Mongol - 17%
Manchu - 2%
Hui - 0.9%
Daur - 0.3%

Click here for a more detailed look at these and other nationality breakdowns.

Okay, as you get anxious for the return of your kids and spouses, their is great comfort knowing that they are totally immersed in their stay in Hohhot. They are among family and friends there and every hour is devoted to learning, experiencing, sharing, engaging, giving, and living out this adventure.

This group, as did the previous groups in ‘00, ‘02, and ‘04, have chosen to carry a very large and proud tradition of representing their families, communities, school, state, and country. What they do and how they act is the impression many Chinese and Mongolians will take as being representative of ALL Americans.

So far, from I have seen and read, this group has continued to make us proud. That . . . is priceless.

See you tomorrow. (I can’t wait!)


ps. If you sneak ahead, you’ll likely get your walking papers.





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