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


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Elvis (Riley) is IN the house! Thank yew, thankyew very much . . .

We have photos from the group’s FIRST PERFORMANCE! And from the sounds of things, they had the joint a rockin’! And we also have Devon Cooke’s report.

But first, here’s an overview of the show from fearless leader (okay, so I am a Bullwinkle fan) and then we’ll let loose with some of the pictures. Tom? Tom. Hey Tom, you’re up . . .

    First performance last night was a standing room only affair with about 1,200 students and teachers.  Rock n' Roll was the way to go. The place rocked. The students clapped repeatedly throughout the whole performance. In fact, many of the Chinese students knew some of the music that we were playing and singing. Their feet were tappin’ and their hands were clappin'.

    Pretty cool to sit out in the audience and see a group of young kids from small town Vermont communicate through the arts with 1,200 total strangers. Our kids just keep getting better and better.

    A couple of highlights: Riley's thinking that he really does own "Graceland." Katy blew them away when she got right out into the audience. Travis is a natural -- what an actor. Pat, Dylan, Adam, Jonathan and Isaac really play to the audience. They all [light up the stage and] are doing really well and they will only get better. What an adventure! —Tom

Twelve hundred people! That’s no small bag of potatoes! And this is just the first of many shows. These kids will end up performing in front of nearly ten thousand people (hint: start keeping track of of the numbers) by the time they come back home. And then they’ll have another six to seven performances in Vermont. Somewhere in this group I guarantee you a star (or stars) is born!

NOW, let’s get on with the show . . .1, 2, 1, 2 ,3 4 . . .

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Wow! Are these the same kids we saw perform a little over a week ago? Tourists in the morning, students in the afternoon, and performers by evening. Don’t ya just love this stuff?

Wow. I never tire of watching these guys perform.

Now it’s Devon’s turn to share her impressions of “a day in Qufu, China.”

Devon . . .

Devon Cooke, Freshman
April 5, 2005

    I got up at 7:15 to slowly get to breakfast at 8. The group and I then went to a class on calligraphy and painting. I didn’t do as well as some others, but the teacher was very supportive. I named my painting “a bird and a black hole,” though the job was to paint sparrows among branches.

    We all broke for lunch, had some rare down time, then went to the Confucius Forest. Now, when I first saw the forest, I personally thought it was a misnomer: It didn’t look very foresty. However, as we got deeper into it, I could have probably gotten lost among the mounds and tombs and trees.. Now usually, the Journey East group would ride in busses through the forest, and view it like that. However, due to what I feel was luck, the busses weren’t working. Undaunted, we rented old bikes and pedaled our way through the site. I had fun, but probably because Qufu is no Vermont, and there aren’t many hills to bike up.

    After the forest, and a visit to Confucius’ tomb at the end of it, [the Forest is actually a cemetery reserved for select male descendants of Confucius] we went back for dinner. Now usually we would spend our free time after dinner at “The Mall” [hardly a mall at all] or in the international student residence hall, but this evening Katy, Steph and I thought it would be fun to take a walk around the campus. During our walk, we noticed an adorable little girl about two years old, who was with her mom. We began saying “NiHao” to both of them, but the mom started talking to us in English. Turns out, she’s an English teacher. We talked with her for a while: She was very nice. After about 15 minutes, she asked if we wanted to meet her students. We all, of course, said “yes,” and she took us to her class at the school. She introduced us and asked us if we would spread out among her students to talk with different people. Katy, Kate, Stephanie and I then spent 20 minutes just chatting with these kids. They asked me questions about school, and Vermont and sports (They brought up Yao Ming. Go Rockets!) They asked what I thought about Chinese movies, music and food. They were very kind, though at times I’m positive they had no idea what I was saying. We ended the visit with a song, but we were badly out of tune. The teacher thanked us and told us she would come to our next performance.
    Today was good

Note: Early in the morning, throughout the campus, one can see students on street corners and in the various beautiful parks reciting diligently from books in hand. Thirty years ago, one would have expected the book to be Red and the language to be Chinese. Today, though, the books are English language work books and the language is English. The world’s getting smaller. —ACL (Ann Landenberger)

“Today was good,” Devon said. Even a bad day on this journey is still in the upper range of fairy tale. Imagine a place where the language is such that you can’t even guess what anything or anyone says. The culture and way of life is so different from ours. The kids listen for and express familiar noises. Music and physical gestures (smiles, nods, and shrugs . . . and hugs) become their means of communicating. This is such an amazing opportunity (in so many countless ways) for these kids to live outside of themselves. In other words, these young people have the opportunity to, for maybe the first time in their lives, really be themselves and . . . see how it works. They won’t be judged, criticized, ridiculed, or questioned. They can just be themselves. And, if they are lucky, by the time they come home, they’ll get to know themselves a little better.

We have some photos of the bike ride to the cemetery and, to go along with what Devon said above, a brief description of the event from Tom:

    The afternoon was sort of a hoot. We visited Confucius Forest, (burial site of 76 generations of members of the Kong family) Kong Fu Tze (Confucius)  It is a very large, normally pretty serene forest with thousands of grave sites, tablets, statues and gravestones. We normally ride 15 people to an electric cart. The carts were out of commission so we all rode bikes for the mile and a half or so journey through the cemetery. You can picture it.  The Chinese weren’t sure that American kids could ride bikes. Frankly, they still might not be sure that American kids can ride bikes. Actually, we did quite well. Some near mishaps but no blood, nConfucius' Grave in backgroundo concussions and no visits to the hospital. It was a day when Chinese all over the country go to the grave site of mothers, fathers, ancestors to pay homage to their ancestors. The cemetery was full of descendants of Kong Tze who were there paying their respects. Bicycling American kids in Confucius cemetery on a national day of paying respect to ancestors was quite a combination. The Group Shot has Confucius grave in the background. —Tom

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What an adventure!

Okay, so let’s see what’s on the agenda for these guys on Wednesday . . . Aha! Looks like they are in for some exercise. A climb of Shimen Hill (if anyone can find info on this hill, let me know) and a visit to the Far East Technical College where they’ll also have lunch. I think their next performance is scheduled for Thursday evening, and so they could have a relaxing evening in the village tomorrow.

Lots of pictures today. Yeah, that’s what we’re talkin’ about! Hey, didn’t someone once say “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Who said that . . . ?



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