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


T-minus 9


Isn’t it great to see them all together? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Okay, folks, we now are down to single digits!

It’s interesting how this journey takes on so many complexions. The first part of the journey seems to move along slowly. Many days pass and yet there is still so much ahead. The passing of a day doesn’t seem to make any real dent in the calendar. Now, as we close in on the final week, the days will begin to move along more swiftly as we can see the end and anticipate the return of the group.

While reading the reports of their stay in Hohhot, the kids are anxious to get home to their families, but now that they are among their Mongolian friends, I think they wouldn’t mind if their stay in Inner Mongolia were extended beyond the planned time.

This is the first of the groups to establish a connection with the Mongolian students here, before they traveled to China. This has certainly helped make the stay in Hohhot easier, allowing them to hit the ground running, having already established friendships ahead of time.. The same is true for the Mongolian students knowing all of our kids in advance.

What’s that? Enough with the speeches? You want to see photos? Well, why didn’t you say so?

We have another heavy load of photos and two reports. We also have a couple of updates from Tom and Ann. This is a great way to start a Monday!

Here’s Ann to give us a a background of the day’s events and photos that follow:

    Today started with a dance session from 8:30-10 then an open dress of Rock and Roll Society before lunch. It's been over a week since we last did the full show, so we needed the run through. We opened it to kids on the Arts College campus and many of them came: They seemed to dig the show.

    Our kids are really working their performance muscle here: It's work they'll never regret, no matter what they might do down the road. In the afternoon we heard a lecture on Mongolian history and culture at Inner Mongolia University, then we toured their library and collections of original Mongolian manuscripts-beautifully done in calligraphy (this is an alphabetic language, not a character-based one) and illuminations. We ended the afternoon on campus with a tour of the University's small but rich museum full of Mongolian crafts and other cultural artifacts. It was a packed lesson.

    So much more to say, but we have a big day tomorrow, so I'll say "wan an." —Ann





Before we get into the load of dress rehearsal photos, let’s hear from Matt (Interestingly, Matt’s report came last year with nine days to go too! You can read what he said about his first trip to China here):

    Matt Martyn, JE Musical Director
    April 16, 2005

    It seems like just yesterday that we said our goodbyes and hit the road for Hartford. Now, after being reunited with our luggage and a couple of loads of hand wash, we're settling in for our last major stay in China. Before you know it you'll be picking up our tired dragging back sides from Bradley late on a school night.

    It seems at least a little strange that we had to get all the way to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia to find a decent internet connection. Hooray for Hohhot! I have finally been able to catch up on some e-mail and check the JE web site. What a treat. We're so lucky to have John at the helm of your window into our lives as we travel through China. Thank you, John!

    All this talk about birthdays makes me sad that this is the second birthday in a row that I have missed wishing my wife, Jenn, a happy birthday. So, for all the JE community to see, happy birthday, Jenn! I miss you and the munchkins something awful.

    I know you've seen photographs of Kristin's birthday party: It was truly a surprise. Sun Xiaoyan, the person in charge of coordinating our visit, arranged for several students and teachers who visited us last fall to be at dinner. It was a welcomed and unexpected treat. It seemed like just yesterday we were saying our goodbyes to each other on the front lawn of Leland and Gray. If we learn anything from this program it might be that all you have to do is blink and six months go by. BAM! Life is short. Live it!

    Tonight (Friday for us) we were treated to more Hohhot hospitality. A welcome banquet, and I mean BANQUET, helped the students and chaperones gain a better understanding of why Hohhot is such a special place. They pulled out all the stops. Five Horse Head Fiddle players, five outstanding singers and a dinner fit for the Emperor himself were a few of the treats. The most important part, though, was the company.

    I've made some casual observations about Chinese people and I want to share one with you. I don't have any concrete data to back up this claim so call it a theory, if you will. I have formed the impression that many Chinese have been raised to believe that it is more important to give than to receive. With the possible exception of driving habits, this virtue is clear in almost everything they do. That feeling is amplified here in Hohhot because these folks are our friends and they really want to take good care of us. It is a great feeling. I would imagine it is part of their "moral" education. That's right, each school-aged student must take all the required courses: math, science, reading, etc. and "moral" classes in addition to that more familiar curriculum. Curious about this phenomenon, I asked one of my Chinese friends to describe what the syllabus looked like for the "moral" course. She explained that students are taught that it is important to be hard workers, to always respect yourself and the people around you, to always strive to do a good job and do your very best, to respect your family and your teachers (one of my favorites, of course) to offer help whenever you can, to think of others before yourself, and to embrace the positive things in your life rather than dwell on the negative. I thought to myself, maybe there is something for us to learn from this. Maybe there are some basic competencies we should think about spending some more time on in our own culture. Walking down the street or driving through town here one always tn_China 2 026 (600 x 449)sees people enjoying their lives, no matter what they might be doing. People here seem to love life. They're happy in their villages; they're happy with their friends and family.

    I'm reminded of Lili's report a few days ago and I'll just share one quick story with you. As you know, she described the village in Qu-Fu well. I walked up to a family huddled around the power pole staring in amazement at the tour bus camped at the edge of their village. Through this village is along a route commonly used by tourists to visit the birthplace of Confucius, I don't imagine too many busses stop and stay a while. I bade my gratuitous "ni hao" and a young woman returned with "hello." I asked her if she spoke English. She replied with the typical "my English is not very good." I asked her about school and her family. As it turns out, she is fifteen and lives with her parents and grandparents in a very small house off the main street. Her father was working in his welding shop right off the main drag. It seems her family is not so different from many of our families with the possible exception of our Gap jeans and the American Eagle t-shirts. After exchanging our zai jians (goodbyes) she made a broad horizontal wave with her palm up as she said "welcome back to my village and welcome to China." She was so proud of her home and her family. You've seen the pictures. You've read the student accounts of their experiences at the village. It may be one of the most powerful experiences we will have.

    See ya in a couple of weeks. —Matt

Happy birthday Jenn!

This is Matt’s second journey east (he was the musical director last year for the fabulous “history of jazz” show) and I’ll bet even after ten more JE trips he’d still feel the emotional charge he gets from this adventure. It is so powerful, from top to bottom. I suggest you read Matt’s report again . . . and again. There is much to be learned from what he says!

Tom is going to brief us on the dress rehearsal: Tom . . .

    These photos are of our dress rehearsal this mornintn_Day 3 Dress at Little Concert Hall 160g and of the Chinese/Mongolian kids who were watching. There is even one of our security guard in the background. The kids had him dancing at one point. What a hoot! Interesting how different audiences, even within the same country, differ in what they respond to.

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Dress Rehearsal
April 16, 2005

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This is fun! It’s like being there and getting a chance to look around at the others in the audience to see their reactions. And from the looks of things, their reactions are of pure and total enjoyment. There are enough smiles in the photos above to float a boat. Er, would you believe fly a plane? How about, sail a ship? Okay, enough smiles to fill a concert hall at a Journey East dress rehearsal!

One thing for sure, when these guys are performing, they . . . make the world go away. And now, we are going to hear from Elvis. Er, I mean, Riley! Same difference, really. Riley . . .

    Riley Lucier, Sophomore
    April 17, 2005

    I have had a great time in Hohhot, especially since I've gotten to see my sisters again. When I say "sisters," I mean the girls who stayed with me for three weeks in October. It was so nice to see them and I look forward to seeing more of them. I've also participated in a dance class here in Hohhot, but I don't think I'm "lord of the dance." I did try, though. I don't really want to go on stage for the show, but I will.

    [He did more than try. He's doing beautifully and he'll wow 'em-as will all our boys, even though many of them might say right now that they'd rather have root canal than dance for 1000 people next Saturday -AL]

    I also did a home stay for a day with Kaylene at the home of some [VIP] from the school. His house was really nice and the food they gave us was great. The first thing we did was go for lunch where we had ten plates of mutton for six people. That was a lot and then they fed us between lunch and dinner. I really couldn't eat that much, but I tried so I wouldn't disappoint our hosts. The best part of the day was making dumplings because they said I was really good at it. We made about 100 of them and they were great.

The food stories are always fascinating. There has been a trend over the past three journey’s east. When the kids first arrive in China, and up until their home stays in Hohhot, they love the food. They are either eating at banquets, where the food is varied and plentiful, or they are eating at restaurants. They seemingly can’t get enough and are overwhelmed by how great the food is.

And then come the home stays. Of course, it all depends on the family one stays with (the same is true here in Vermont when the Mongolians visit), but the stories about the food inevitably go in a different direction. The kids sometimes have no clue as to what is being served. Some of the food doesn’t even look like food. And, in the case of previous journeys where the home stays were overnight, and the family didn’t speak much English, there was a great challenge to be courteous and respectful while trying figure out what it was that was being served! The families often go overboard with the food. This can be a good thing. And, it can be a bad thing.

In Riley’s case (see his report above), I am wondering if any of the others managed to get any mutton! Hey Janet, Riley’s making dumplings when he gets home. Since you were a JE chaperone last year, and Devan a vet of the ‘04 tour, I can see a Lucier dumpling challenge coming to your house very soon!

Fact: China has been perfecting the art of dumpling making since the Sung dynasty. Do you know the years of the Sung Dynasty (pronounced “soong”)?

The group has a huge day ahead of them, according to Tom. This sounds really exciting:

    Monday, April 18 (today) We tour South Mountain Park in Helin County. This is about an hour or so drive from here. It will be the first time we have performed in the countryside. The kids from previous programs will remember the large dairy and the cashmere factory that we visited out there. We will have lunch at a restaurant in the Helin Hotel and then will perform at the Helin Middle School. My guess is that they have had little or no experience with Caucasians of any persuasion. Should be very, very, interesting. —Tom

Wow. Sounds like an exciting day of making history! Can’t wait to hear about.

Today is Patriots Day in Massachusetts, and the 109th running of the Boston Marathon! I predict the winning time to be 2:07:41 . . .

No school this week at Leland & Gray -- Spring Break! In addition to our crew in China, we also have a group of students in France this week. There are three baseball/softball games scheduled this week. Two are at home.

Hope you have a great Monday!

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