April 14




A Beautiful Journey
(JE Performance Program)

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 2007

Tom Connor
Program Director

Ann Landenberger
Artistic Director

Matt Martyn
Music Director


Come see these magnificent performers on Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 pm. They will perform at Leland & Gray High School in Townshend, Vermont.

Click here to find out more about this amazing and fun evening!


Where Are They?




In the News

Good afternoon everyone.

Well, well, well. This is pretty exciting. One of our JE students, Karlie Kauffeld, has an article she has written about the journey through China printed in today’s Brattleboro Reformer. Her article appears at the top of the front page of section two. You can read her great story here. In her article, Karlie says:

    “Living in another country is mysterious; it's confusing; it's frustrating. It's exhilarating, captivating and fabulous.”

Take a moment to read her article, you’ll like it.

Okay, so we don’t have any photos, but we do have a couple of reports today. First, we’ll hear from Becky . . .

April 13, 2007 -- Becky Scott, Sophomore

Today was another day, packed with activities –as most of our days are. We began with a fantastic breakfast, although a bit of an odd one by our usual standards of breakfast in Vermont. I ate pizza, French fries and pineapple. Not exactly Chinese, but definitely comfort foods that I always miss. After breakfast, we piled onto the bus and drove through more rural parts of Inner Mongolia—rural at least compared to the city life we’re experiencing here in Hohhot. We passed through small villages consisting of huts made of mud and straw and bricks; streets strewn with garbage and a lot of livestock—both sheep and cows. The land was very dry—everything brown or yellowish—and you could see the way the dry soil was being eroded away by the wind and occasional rain. All in all, the surroundings were somewhat dismal, and the places we passed were among some of the poorest I’ve ever seen. After 45 minutes of driving through such villages, we came to our destination—a super modern dairy farm where milk was produced, packaged and shipped to all different parts of China. The technology in the factory was amazing—almost all its machines were run by two workers who monitored two main computers that pretty much ran the entire factory. The sanitation was amazing, as well: We were all required to wear plastic bags over our street shoes upon entering the plant and we didn’t even go near the actual milk being processed. The contrast between the villages we passed on our way to the factory and the factory itself was amazing: It was like being in two different worlds.

After we left the factory, we traveled to a school to meet some students who were all about 18. I love going to schools and meeting kids. It’s possibly my favorite thing to do here in China because all the kids are so welcoming and friendly and, frankly, I find them all quite adorable, even if some are older than I. After a photo at the school we traveled on to a park where we reconnected with the kids. Some were quite shy, but one girl came right up to me, introduced herself as Sun Bo and grabbed my hand. We were in a area full of beautiful pagodas, large statues of coins and currency of China and of a Buddhist deity with three faces. The entire time we explored the park, Sun Bo held my hand tightly and tried her best to explain to me what I was seeing, and to find out a bit about my life as a foreigner.”

Even though I have experienced it quite a few times now, it is amazing to see how welcoming and kind the Chinese—especially the students—are to us. I feel almost like a celebrity or an immediate friend every time I interact with a young Chinese boy or girl. It is so incredibly humbling, and it makes me sad to think how differently these children would be treated if they were to come and visit us in the US. I’m not suggesting we would not be kind to them, but we would definitely not shower them with gifts or greet them with applause. Everything is simply so different.

The day went on, of course. We had a successful performance, a fabulous dinner, as usual, and a great night of karaoke and dancing (especially fun due to Mr. Martyn’s beat boxing and rapping). And now it’s time for me to go to bed, so I can begin another amazing day in China. Goodnight all.

-- Becky

I don’t know about you, but I hope Matt Martyn will do some of his beat boxing and rapping for us when they return to Leland & Gray! Is there any music, or instrument, this guys can’t play or do? I don’t think so. He is amazing.

Speaking of amazing, a number of attributes are considered when selecting students for each year’s semester-long Asian Studies program. It isn’t just a matter of finding kids who can sing, perform, play an instrument, or handle stage production. This collection of students must be able to contribute individually and collectively in many ways. They must each possess the personality that will serve as a good ambassador, to listen and learn, to be able to take instruction and follow through with their assignments, to get along with one another, to boldly go where few students (100+ former JE students) have gone before.

The entire group, as well as the program, depends on each other for success and survival. This is not a matter of simply choosing the most talented musicians or the most talented performers. The challenge here (for Tom, Matt, and Ann) is choosing a “team” who, together, can survive the “the journey.” And to create a journey they can call their own -- in this case, a journey called “Journey East 2007.”

For you parents, amazingness (is that a word? Well, it is now! Make a note) will be the word when you see your child perform at the welcome home performance on the 28th. And even for parents whose child is one of the experienced performers, the many performances in China will have honed your child’s skills beyond belief.

Okay, enough talking (rambling man!). Let’s get to our next report. This is our final “chaperone” report. Andi Anderson shares her thoughts . . .

Educational Food for Thought
Andi Anderson

Yesterday we first visited a famous Mongolian kindergarten, then the South Hulun Road Primary School. This was of particular interest to me as my schooling and first career was in early childhood education.

I had always been of the belief that our children needed to be children longer. I felt we needed to embrace the years from three to six with much coddling and a strong building of a child’s individual self esteem as well as self expression.

I stood with tears in my eyes as I watched a room of 20 four-year-olds perform traditional Mongolian songs from memory. They sang fours songs for us, each with remarkable precision and enthusiasm. Their eyes lit up the room as their smiles and hands and heads danced to the rhythms. All were decked out in traditional Mongolian costume. Here were tiny little creatures being stared at by a cluster of large wide-eyed Americans snapping away with their cameras and there was no discomfort; not a shy one in the bunch.

How comfortable they were to welcome us like pros.
We then watched a dance class of 3-6 year olds perform quite a few numbers. These darlings danced better than most American adults I’ve seen. Again, the confidence astounded me. They strived to succeed.

These children go to school from 8am to 5:30pm with a two hour break for lunch and nap. Their world is filled with education, physical activity and a thirst for excelling, even at such a young age.

We next visited a primary school where we were greeted by “Lily” (her American name) a very, poised confident 10-year-old, dressed in Mongolian headdress and costume.

Lily was not only able to stand before a group of Americans, her peers and her teachers, but was able to translate for her principal with a grasp of the English language that was humbling.

We were then divided into groups and I was able to attend an English class of 3rd graders ranging from ages 8-11.

These students had a thirst to learn like I’d never seen before. Not a bored look in the room. Every child sat at attention during the entire 45 minutes of learning “how many.”

Studying a foreign language starts so much earlier in Chinese schools. I often feel we miss the boat by not introducing language before the brain shuts down those areas for language acquisition.

Here were these young students again, humbling us with their desire to know how to communicate with us and all we could throw out were a few Chinese phrases here and there.

Many of our table time and bus ride conversations during this trip have revolved around the topic of college entrance, grades and SAT scores of our children.

There have been many disappointments at the scores of students we know and at their college rejections. It seems to be a more competitive world every day. The students we’ve viewed as having such good chances just aren’t getting the offers we expected.

Perhaps we could learn some from the education system in some of the finer schools in China. It seems such a fine balance between pushing too hard and stressing children versus not starting early enough and with enough emphasis on excellence.

What a quandary. Do we trade the happiness that the Chinese admire in our kids for less excellence or do we push more and more so our children will have a competitive edge in the rapidly changing world?

So much to ponder now that my days are only filled with enjoying the incredible talents of your children and not my job nor my household to tend.

-- Andi Anderson

Good stuff, Andi. Good, good stuff . . .

Okay everyone. Enjoy this sunny day in Vermont, read Karlie’s article in the paper, and enjoy the fact that we are getting really, really close to seeing this group back home again . . .

eh-budda, eh-budda, eh-budda, that’s all folks!

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