April 25




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?




Tonight, Tonight, Won’t Be Like Any Night!

Hey everybody!

T-minus . . . ZERO! Well, well, well. You made it! Congratulations! Stand up and give yourselves a round of applause. Well deserved. Whew!

Now, that went by quickly, didn’t it? NOT!

As you read this page, the group is on their way home! They should be arriving around 9:30 tonight! To follow their flights, go to United Airlines:

Okay, let’s get right to today’s report. Here’s Taylor describing the final shopping day . . .

April 24, 2007 -- Taylor White

Shopping day


Hi, my name is Taylor White. I’m 16 years old and I live in Chester, Vermont. I went to great lengths to request this day as my day to report. “Why?” you may ask. Well, allow me to explain: I plan, right after high school, to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Also, during this time abroad, I believe I have been quite helpful if I understood correctly: “Boy, Taylor, you really know your stuff!” And “Where did you get that gorgeous ring?” Or, my personal favorite: “Taylor, you must certainly know how to shop!” Now you tell me, does that sound like I’m good or does that sound like I’m good?! So what better day to report than shopping day?

Cheap and prudent

Now, through my experiences when I’m shopping in America, I’ve found that everything tends to be expensive and very revealing. I don’t necessarily mind the latter, but I welcome a change now and then. And when I say “change,” I mean change! The clothes one can buy in China are still very cute, if you know where to find them—as I did. Or you can find, shall we say, “interesting” styles. Clothes here are all very practical; they don’t show anything that isn’t necessary to show which, in come cases, can be very good. (You know: Leave the impression of mystery and don’t flaunt what you may or may not have.) But one thing that I absolutely love here is how insanely cheap everything is! I mean, it’s crazy! Consider this: Ten dollars in American money. Not much, right? In Chinese it comes out to 76.5 yuan. Now with that I bought four bracelets, an adorable dress and a pair of shoes! Please tell me that you think that is truly amazing because it is! I don’t know how many times I have said over here that I want to come back to China purely to shop! Wouldn’t you?

Pearl market extravaganza

So, when I arrived at the Pearl today, I directly escorted myself to the section of the market containing the nice pearls, not the yucky fake ones, but the nice, genuine, fresh water pearls. My companions and I found that the pearls on the 5th floor were out of our league and that we needed to drop a level. I literally mean a level. We went from floor 5 to floor 4 and found some delightful pearls that, if I do say so myself, are quite exquisite.
The Pearl Market, as you may have already guessed, is known for its pearls. However, it boasts many other types of shops, as well ranging from lingerie and make up to shoes and belts. On behalf of the entire Journey East 2007 group, I’d like to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed the Pearl Market and can’t wait for some for you to come to China to bring us back more goodies from there! (hint, hint)

The meaning within bargaining

One thing that really struck me below the surface (deep) was the bargaining. Vendors grab at you and pull you into their lairs of fake designer brands. One fights with all her might to get the lowest price and in the end feels exhausted.

Now I just want to say that this experience has changed my life forever. When I go back to America my entire shopping self will never be the same. When I go to stores, I will flinch and jump at the price of every item, with the fear and anxiety of sales persons trying to sell me merchandise in the manner of Pearl Market vendors.


First off, I would like to make a shout out to my peeps in V to the T of the US of A. Mom, Dad, Kams, Kenneth, God, Frankie, Kaitlin—I love you guys! I’d like to thank Ms. L., Tom, Matt, Hujia—everyone—for making this possible. I really have enjoyed China and, in all sincerity, I feel very privileged to have been one if a few kids who get to be a part of such a fantastic and well-respected program! I hope many more are able to experience China. It really is cool! Thanks! See you in a day!

-- Taylor

Pretty good, Taylor. You are indeed good! We’ll see you in a few hours!

Now, here’s Tom describing the day and the photos.

tn_24th Beijing 006[These] photos will give [you] a sense of Beijing traffic and a few street scenes. Those buildings [below] really are leaning.

    Highlight of the day was Hongqiao, The Pearl Market. Three hours of non-stop mayhem. Fun. We certainly made our presence felt. Students had the chance to get gifts for family and friends. [Tom]

Hongqiao Market (The Pearl Market)

tn_24th Beijing 001

tn_24th Beijing 003

tn_24th Beijing 004

tn_24th Beijing 013

tn_24th Beijing 009

Parting Shots

tn_24th Beijing 011

Highlight of the day, was of Claire demolishing Riley Lucier's record of 49 dumplings at one meal. Sorry Riley. There's a new kid on the block! [Tom]

tn_24th Beijing 018

tn_24th Beijing 024

tn_24th Beijing 017


And who better to finish off the student reports, than our own “Dumpling Champion,” Claire Zukas . . . and to top it off, she’ll do this with her mouth full:

APRIL 25, 2007 -- Claire Zukas, Sophomore

Traveling home

As the last Zukas child to travel to China, it is my privilege to follow tradition and write on the very last day.

I can’t capture such an experience in any amount of words, but I can try to come close. Before we left, I tried to predict what things would happen in the month away from home. Almost everything I predicted was wrong. Everything that happened in this last month was completely unexpected, but unexpected in a good way. Every minute of every day we were introduced to new smells, new tastes, new facts and knowledge; random relationships, mixed emotions and expressions. It was all so overwhelmingly fulfilling. I’ve never been exposed to so many strange yet wonderful things in such a short amount of time.

When we first stepped into the world of China, we were taken aback. One could immediately feel the difference in the atmosphere. The thick, humid air found its way down to our lungs. The smells from street vendors’ edibles stung our noses. In a strange way, it was all comforting. We found that all of the foods –unlike the food back home—were completely rich with flavor. Chinese cooking is such a delicate art that one can taste it in every bite; with every chew and swallow it’s clear how much work was put into a meal. In addition to the wonderful hot meals, there was the ice cream and candies. Not many people can say they’ve had bean-, pea-, corn- or the unknown “ube”-flavored ice cream, or candies such as “wet one’s whistle” ( basically cough drops). And they never ever gave us chocolate cake—only moist, vanilla-flavored ones. They cakes were excellent, but one got sick of the same flavors after five birthday celebrations.

One of the most insanely ridiculous parts of the trip was how we bonded. I will never forget how I bonded with a freshman girl, whom I’d never talked to before, on the 13-hour flight to Beijing on which there was no movie, no entertainment. She and I bonded instantly—something so random and unexpected. Even though we kept half the plane or more awake, it was worth it. We then flew a kite in Tiananmen Square, wrote a rap, borrowed a Chinese man’s motorbike in Qufu. We were basically the equivalent of ridiculous. In the meantime, we all got along as a group; I mean—we did get a little annoyed with one and other, but overall, we were a team. We were told that none of us was really stepping up to be a leader of our team, but I feel like we functioned in a way that made it such that we didn’t need a leader; we just had our team and an incredible team it was. Our last day on the bus was my favorite when most of us joined in on our own rendition of “Down by the Bay”:

Down in China
Where the streets are full
Back to my home
I’m forced to go
For when I leave
Tom Connor will say
You’re gonna miss the…

We may have gone on for too long, but we took turns naming some very funny and very real things that we will all miss—e.g, the calls for “pod checks” from our Great White Shark. The relationships we created with one and other just couldn’t have been better.

When we traveled to different schools, we were expected to meet new people and make friends. It was a little redundant asking the same questions—“How old are you?” “How long have you been speaking English?” “How much homework got you get?” “What’s your favorite subject?” As repetitive as it was, though, the answers always made me smile. I bonded with so many people in one month that one wouldn’t think it possible. In Inner Mongolia we worked with college students for a dozen days, but I didn’t start really hanging out with any of them, until roughly two days before our final performance. In those two days, we connected. I didn’t want to say goodbye. We exchanged mailing addresses backstage in the dark with tears running down our faces. That was one of my hardest goodbyes of the entire month.

One may think one knows what this program is and what it’s about; one assumes things. Assumptions are wrong. This experience and the lessons to be learned can only be known by being there—a part of our team, Journey East 2007. It’s so real and so whimsical--better than anything one could expect. I mean—who would expect to be sitting at a table surrounded by a crowd of friends while one’s eating the 51st dumpling, to beat Riley Lucier’s record of 49. Not I, that’s for sure.

Coming to you at 30 minutes until we land in Hartford…

-- Claire

    We will all miss China but look forward to coming home. [Tom]

In just a few hours you’ll be hugging your child or spouse for the first time in over month. Such a very special hug. Make it last a long time . . .

Please read. The following is very important!

We talked earlier about these students being ambassadors for Vermont and for the U.S. Everything they said and did was a big deal, everyone they met was anxious to see them, talk to them, be with them. Banquets, guests of honor, celebrations, gifts, etc. They were the story. Everything, every day, was all about them. They have been treated like “stars” and “celebrities” for a month, a lifetime.

Now, they will return to Vermont where they are what they were a month ago, just a regular person. No big deal. This will be a challenging adjustment for them, and for you. They will expect, and deserve, to a certain extent, for people here to pay attention to them, as they did in China. Most people don’t even know they have been on this journey, let alone what they have experienced. They are just another person.

For several days after their return home, we (family and friends) will give them that deserved recognition. Their fellow students and teachers will also give them praise and attention for what they have done. They will certainly see life in a different light, questioning and comparing everything. They will now be aware of things they used to take for granted. They are coming home with a wealth of knowledge and understanding and they need to share it, to test it, to use it.

In time, these young people will work their way back from this exhilarating experience to being themselves again. They will never be the same, that’s for sure. But in a few months, they will be back to “normal.”

Over the next couple of weeks, because of the carefully designed program, these guys will transition from their celebrity status as they perform and share their journey with students throughout the state of Vermont. Their journey will become a “star” for many young people to look and wish upon. The young people who experience the JE troupe will see that this might be them one day. Maybe . . . Hopefully.

We mustn’t forget that this journey is the result of the the previous journeys’ successes (2000, 2002, 2004, and 2005). Had those efforts not proven worthy and successful, this journey would only be a “what if.” JE2007 now becomes a member of this very special program. Their proud and exciting chapter is almost written.

Well, we’ll close for today. This is a very special day. Thirty-two days later and here you are. Congratulations everybody. Tonight your family will be whole again. You’ve worked hard for this -- this night belongs to you! Enjoy!

See you tomorrow . . . one more time.

[JE2007] [April 24] [April 25] [April 26]