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


Hi everybody. Just think, a week ago some of you watched the plane take off at Bradley Airport. And we were all waiting for that first word of the group’s safe arrival in Beijing. In some ways, it seems longer than a week, doesn’t it?

I must apologize for not mentioning this at the beginning of the journey. If you are not able to communicate with your child (or spouse) and would like to relay any messages to them, you can send me e-mail and I will forward the message off to China. We are using a server to drop and retrieve photos and messages you are seeing each day, reducing the dependence on e-mail.

Just indicate at the beginning of the e-mail that it is something you want sent to China and to whom it is intended. I promise the e-mails will be sent in confidence.

Okay, we have a report from Jesse Brown and a lot of photos of the kids playing soccer, basketball, and even ping pong, as well as some great shots of the groups attending an English class. So, without further ado, here’s Tom to give a little intro . . . maestro:

    tn_Attached Middle School Qufu 135We visited the Attached Middle School of the University today. [Below are] photos of an English class that we participated in plus photos of our kids playing soccer, basketball and table tennis. The students are loving it; all of it. The impact of the interaction can be seen in the faces of the kids. I refer to this as their introduction to "International Relations." Pretty cool to watch.  Tom

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I know Ray and Corey have been itching to play ping pong. Doesn’t look like they’ve lost their touch! It’s good see the kids getting some serious exercise. They’ll need this with all that great Chinese food they are finding to their liking!

Now here’s Jesse’s report:

    Jessie Brown, Freshman
    April 4, 2005

    QUFU, PRC Lying in bed, trying to come up with the right words to describe such a wonderful and exhausting day: It's not the best situation if you are as tired as the 30 people in this group. Usually, this late at night, my mind wanders and it is hard to stay focused on one thing or remember specific things from the day's events. For some reason now, though, I have no trouble remembering each and every detail of the day. Everything is clear and fresh in my mind. Maybe it's not my mind that's different; maybe it's the way I feel being around such welcoming, loving and friendly people. I felt all these things in the people I saw today. We got such a warm and thoughtful welcome from Professor Zhang, principal of the Affiliated Secondary School of Qufu Teachers University. After his speech about Chinese students who have been to America, and comparisons between Chinese education and our own, we went to visit some campus classrooms. tn_Attached Middle School Qufu 14502One room was a sort of control room where you could see what was going on in every classroom in the whole school. Most of the images showed children with piles of books in front of them. Sometimes you would see students sneaking notes to each other behind the books. We mixed with students and spoke with them for a minute, but then it was time to move on to an English class in which students had been studying English for three years. Most of them spoke very clearly, some did not. The students were happy to have us in their class, but a little nervous to speak in front of us. That particular class was about the four different styles of food in China: Mandarin. Huiyang, Sichuan and Cantonese. Students were asked to choose a style and say everything they could about it. Some students even told stories about some of the traditional foods.

    After food, the topic of this English class then switched to holidays. After discussion of Chinese New Year and the mid-autumn festival, Christmas flashed on the LCD projected image. We were asked to share information about Christmas, so I spoke about the small Norwegian celebration that's a tradition in my family. Thanksgiving was raised, too, so kids told about what we eat traditionally and Katy explained the origin of the holiday. After class, the teacher gave us time to talk to the Chinese students. The two girls I was sitting next to wanted to see all my pictures and were very eager to see how I live. I gave them my address; I think they were happy to make an American friend, as I was happy to make two new Chinese friends.

    I left my new friends feeling great-and soon to feel greater because next it was time to join Chinese students in physical education. We could play basketball, ping pong or soccer with the Chinese students. I chose soccer and our students played against some Chinese boys. It was an awesome game. It was cool to see how we and our Chinese peers enjoy some of the same things. Soon the game was over and it was time to leave our new friends and get ready to perform for them later that evening.

    After a quick lunch, it was time for a very stressful dress rehearsal full of notes. Even though it was stressful, it was worth it because our performance ROCKED! The crowd was not a crowd but a sea [of roughly 1150]! They loved our show [Rock and Roll Society]. During it you could often hear chattering and noise coming from the audience. It's interesting to find that this is normal behavior for an audience here. They spoke even louder when their students performed several different songs and dances after our show. Some might think that behavior was distracting, but it wasn't. My only feeling was one of exhilaration. I loved it.

    The performance was awesome and the day couldn't have been better. A day like today is one that I'll never forget and I can't wait for the rest of the unforgettable days to come.

Note: The visit to the middle school [grades 6-12] rekindled an interest in comparative education. More and more we're hear from our Chinese peers (as I did in Japan), that Chinese educators would love to clone our methods for building skills and nurturing creativity, while we still are inclined to look to Asia for models of rigor and diligence. After our first performance in China last night (which would have made our home towns proud) one of our hosts, head of international programs here at Qufu Normal University, commented almost apologetically that their students are always studying and don't have time to work as much in the arts. No apologies needed, of course. I explained that our kids have to choose to make such time back home -- either through electives or in after-school programs. We chewed on the differences for a while and could have gone on and on were it not for the hour. It's wonderful to be able to engage in dialogue like this. We can learn from each other, we agreed. -ACL

Tomorrow the group will be their fourth day in Qufu. They’ll listen to a lecture on Chinese painting and calligraphy in the morning. This is a great part of the trip as the kids will attempt to learn how to write Chinese. If you are curious about what your name looks like in Chinese, check out:

And once you’ve got the language all figured out, you can go to the Chinese version of Yahoo’s web page: Yahoo Chinese. So now you are ready for the photos we are certain to get of the kids writing Chinese.

Okay, so after the calligraphy class, it’s off to the Confucius Forest (remember, this is the cemetery of Confucius’ descendants. I think it numbers more than 10,000! Is that right?) You’ll have to go back on the journey to see for sure.

The gang will be in Qufu until Saturday, so they’ll get a good chance to settle in and enjoy “living” in China. The kids from the previous journeys mentioned how nice it was to be in one place for a while and get into a little routine. And we’ll get lots of photos of the kids “out and about.”

But, most importantly, and most anxiously, next up should be photos of their first performance! Can’t wait for that!

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go Daddy go!”













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