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


Did you remember to turn your clock ahead this morning? If not, sorry, you just lost an hour! Now go take care of that and then come right back here. We’ll wait. I promise.

Okay, so the JE group has settled in at Qufu and today they prepare for their first joint performance on Monday evening. They’ll rehearse (we should get photos of the rehearsal later on today) in the morning and then spend the afternoon at the Confucius Temple and Residence.

Throughout this trip, we focus on the students and their activities. But if not for the chaperones, the students (and staff) would not be able to focus on the things they need to do. The chaperones work hard to be guides, guards, mentors, mothers, companions, workers, assistants, and just about anything else anyone asks of them. They are the unsung, unseen heroes of the trip. Journey East has had great chaperones with Pat Burleson and Jenny Connor in ‘02; and Jean McIntire, Carolyn Scully, and Janet Lucier in ‘04.

This year’s dedicated team of chaperones is no exception with Elyn Bischof and Mimi Wright taking on those roles. We take great pride and comfort knowing our kids are being cared for by these wonderful people. It’s because of them, we can relax and enjoy the journey. So, could we take a moment and have a rousing round of applause for these two people? Nice, that was nice. Thank you Mimi and Elyn.

Okay now, speaking of chaperones, we have a report from Elyn (remember, the reports are coming alphabetically -- making it easier to know whose report is next! Pssst, I am guessing Lili’s is next, whaddya think?)

But first, before we get to the report, let’s see the pictures! But first, before we get to the pictures (and find out what the pictures mean), here’s what Tom has to say:

    [The] kids, Ann and Matt are rehearsing in the yellowish building shown in one of these photos [top row, right]. We had hoped to be in the new hall by this time but it is not yet completed. The new student center is the big building with lots of glass [bottom row, right]; right across the street  from the old building [bottom row, left?]. The other shots were taken here on the campus on my way to breakfast. This is such a relaxing place. Kids and adults will settle in quickly.

    The weather here is fantastic. Blue sky and brisk in the morning but getting like Vermont in mid-May by afternoon. We are at least a month or
    better ahead of Vermont in terms of the weather.


Okay. Here are the pictures from Tom’s walk:

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I am not sure who the three gentlemen are above, but maybe we can get the answer to this before the day is out. Check out the green grass and the leaves on the trees!

Now here is Elyn’s report:

    Elyn Bischof, Chaperone
    April 2, 2005

    The trees are budding and Beijing reminds me, surprisingly, of solitude. It’s 6AM and, as I gaze out my crystal-clear, very clean windotn_Shots of Qufu on Sunday A.M. 00602w, I feel summoned outside. Leather skinned women in surgical masks sweep the streets free of the previous day’s trash.

    As I wander outside, the cool air, crisp from a recent downpour, fills my senses and pleases me. There are no cars traveling yet, just tricycles with wagons attached. I watch men and women in black suits, briefcases in the wagons behind them, pedaling strenuously but rhythmically to their places of work. I feel a smile formed on my chilled face as I try to imagine our New York city executives back home in the states, riding to work on tricycles in three-piece suits. Doubtful.

    I feel a sudden sadness to be leaving Beijing. In just three short days, I have become quite fond of this soulful city. The Chinese people are very kind and generous. Four young high school girls were walking ahead of me on “the Wall” yesterday. As we traversed down a tough spot, one girl turned, offered her hand to me and, in somewhat broken English asked: “Can I help you?” It was so sweet and I was so moved that I gave her my hand even though I was just fine on my own. Our eyes met as if she was seeing deep inside me. We had made a special connection. Strangers on the wall in China, I lovingly hugged her. “Xie, xie [need accent on the e: `], I whispered as she hugged me back and gave me a huge smile.

    The budding trees and the beginning of Spring. A new growing season is like our own unique Journey East group. Our leader, teaching and guiding us with smooth sailing; Ann, always collaborating, teaching and energizing; Matt, helping all and bringing attention to the human, emotional side of things; Mimi and I offering mothering, snacks, and help wherever we can; and the kids, all of whom have learned to thrive in a group of extremely different individuals, each one awesomely blossoming right before our eyes.

    Xie, xie.

Elyn is right, not only is the earth blooming with new awareness, our JE group is doing the same, hour by hour . . .

Tonight, the group has their welcome banquet. This is the first “formal” experience the group will have. It is here that the kids will get a larger sense of the impact of their visit.

Slowly, they will begin to take on a celebrity-like status among the people with whom they come in contact. For those of you involved with the visit of the Mongolians here last fall, you’ll understand what it is like for these kids as everyone wants to see them, talk to them, just be around them to see what they are like.

And when these kids hear the incredible round of applause for their first performance, they’ll get goose bumps like they’ve never had before!

And so, until we get our next wave of photos, reports, or communicado, I’ll leave you with a look behind the scenes at some photos of the Acrobats getting ready for their performance in Beijing the other night:

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Go Illini! : )

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