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


NABD2C~1T-minus 6

This, my friends, is big news (okay, so the pun is intended)! Our kids made front page news (in full color, no less) in Mongolia. They have reached celebrity status!

Six more days. Music to our ears.

Speaking of music, the group rocked the house last night with a special Rock ‘n Roll jam session, featuring our gang and some Mongolian friends. We’ve got some photos of that experience.

Let’s let Kate give us a little background of yesterday’s events, including their tree planting experience: Kate . . .

    Kate Piniewski, Freshman
    April 19, 2005

    HOHHOT We started the day with a visit to a show of work by art students at the high school attached to the University here. Every piece of art was amazing; very detailed and extremely well done. Before going to our collaboration, we watched part of a ballet class and a fashion design class at the University's arts college. Seeing the dancers made me really want to take up ballet again. We learned that 200 kids apply for the fashion major and only twenty get in. Although the odds are not very good, most of the students are guaranteed jobs after they graduate. 

    We moved on to our dance rehearsal with the Chinese kids and added the final sections to the piece. It was a challenge and I'm not sure everyone remembers the steps. Since we are limited on titn_NA9932~1me, everything has to be learned very quickly. It's hard, but rewarding and fun. After that, we had chorus rehearsal. Today was the first day I could sing with the group since I'd lost my voice earlier in the week and I was a little behind on learning the Mongolian song. The song tells the story of dreaming about the Mongolian grasslands and it is absolutely beautiful. I thought it would be harder for them to learn our song, "Brothers," but they caught on really quickly. The singers are really fun to watch and listen to because of the talent they possess.

    After lunch and a little free time, some students drove up to the Inner Mongolia Ecological Garden with us. More students, the presidents and other important people from the college met us there where we started the "First Friendship Forest between "Sino-American Teenagers." Stephanie, Hou Yu (a singer from the college) and I planted a tree together which was pretty fun. This was a big deal to the Chinese which we could see by all the preparation that went into the event. I found it interesting that by planting trees we were establishing relationships with other cultures. 

    After the ceremony we hung out at the site for a while, took a lot of pictures and tried to protect ourselves from the wind near a huge outdoor sculpture of an astronaut. Tom pointed out that China has never landed on the moon, but it's like being awarded the 2008 Olympics. Sending an astronaut to the moon would mean another step in the right direction for this country. Before we left the US, many discussions took place about China's growing power, so it was nice to see what we talk about in school
    actually is applicable and real.

    On the way back to the city, we stopped at a real Mongolian style restaurant called Banmundi. I ate with three singers from the arts college, Riley, Travis, Ray, Steph and Devon. I had a lot of fun: One or two of us would sing a song and then they would sing. There were a few songs we could sing together. They wanted English names and we wanted Chinese names so QiMuGe is now Robin (which means beautiful song) an AnGeLeme is April (for spring and blossoms). The names have symbolic meaning and that is apparently more important than the actual word. I found that interesting because most American names don't have such symbolism, but all Chinese names do. My new name is Ar Rue which means "beautiful sunrise." Our meal lasted about two and a half hours and was worth every minute.

    My time in Inner Mongolia has been going great and I'm looking forward to
    the rest of our days here. Making new friends and trying to communicate has been an experience I will never forget. This whole op adventure has opened my eyes to so many new things and I can't wait to come back.

Thank you Ar Rue! Love those names!

Now, here’s Tom to tell us all about what’s in store for today:

    Great show in the afternoon at an all-Mongolian College. Audience was really responsive and our kids fed off of that. The audience shots will show the scene.






Rock ‘n Roll Society
Show No. 4














    Ran into a big, and I do mean big, Chinese basketball player who played for the Spurs, I believe. This guy must have been at least 7 feet tall. Not an exaggeration. Kids all had him signing their copy of the newspaper that you see in one of these photos. The Hohhot Daily featured our group in a large, four-color, front-page photo. They tell me that it is a first. Very cool.

tn_Ann #2


tn_NBA player )Ann's Photo


    We visited the tomb of Zhao Jun, a very old Buddhist Lamasery where all 62 people are Mongolians. They range in age from 12 to --- whatever. Had a nice conversation with a few of them and they graciously allowed us to have a photo taken with them. Some of those we spoke to had been there for 16 years.









    We also visited the five pagotn_5 pagodadas and there are a couple of photos showing that. There are over 1,500 tiles with different buddhas on the outside walls of this structure.

  • We had a party of sorts last night. Chinese kids brought their instruments, Matt had the sound system set up and the place rocked.  Fun to watch the fusion of the two musical styles and instruments. Those who didn't play danced or sang.  You will notice our own "torch singer" in one of the photos. The kids had a great time as there must have been 25 Chinese/Mongolian kids in attendance.









    Today is another day. I have a meeting with President Li Yulin this morning to discuss this program, the scholarship and next year's trip to Vermont for the Arts College Delegation. Matt and Isaac are off early to buy instruments. There is a collaboration dance rehearsal and a singing rehearsal. Additionally, Matt and four or five students have about three hours of work with the wind ensemble that will be performing at our final performance on Saturday night. —Tom




Today, the group has a Collaboration in the morning and an exchange and performance at Daxuelu Primary School in the afternoon.

The stay in Hohhot is winding down to the big finish. The highly anticipated trip to the Gobi desert is scheduled for tomorrow with the big show Saturday night. Sunday will be a day of packing, shopping, and spending a final (for this time, anyway) time with good friends. And then Monday they head off to Beijing for their final hurrah.

Well, that all we have for today. Quite a variety of activities and certainly some interesting observations by Kate. I wonder if Corey got a chance to take in the big guy in a game of horse!

This is the 24th day of the trip. Can you believe it? As we have stated many times before, this trip and program would not even be possible were it not for the magnificent efforts of Dr. Juefei Wang and the generous support of the Asian Studies Outreach Program (ASOP) at the University of Vermont (UVM), and the Freeman Foundation. All of these fine people, along with Tom, Ann, Matt, and Ron Kelley have crafted this program into the huge success it enjoys today, with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and most importantly, a lot of personal sacrifice.

We can’t thank these people enough for all they have done for our kids, our families, our school, our communities, our state, the USA, and beyond. I speak for everyone when I say . . .

Thank you Juefei, Tom, Ann, Matt, and Ron!

See you tomorrow . . .

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