April 8




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?




Happy Easter!

group-qufu-4-8I hope you found all of those hard-boiled eggs this morning. If you didn’t, you will!

Happy Easter everyone. I know it is tough to be without your child and/or spouse today, but know they they are with “family.” This group has become, and will be forever, a very special family.

As expected, we got a bunch of photos from yesterday’s performance. And, along with the usual performance photos, Tom is treating us to a selection of “after performance” photos. The gang is going to find it very difficult to say goodbye to all of their new friends in Qufu. They have been there for a week and I am sure it has become home to them by now. Here is today’s agenda:

    Sunday: Visit Ni Hill -- the birthplace of Confucius; free time in the afternoon and Farewell Banquet in the evening

Let’s see what Tom has to say about the performance. Tom . . .

    Our students performed their adaptation of Jasmine Flower, which was very well received. Rehearsal this afternoon and performance at the new student center tonight. The student center seats over 2,000. They have hired security guards because of the large crowd that they expect. Should be quite a scene At Far Eastern earlier in the week, we played to 600 students and teachers in a venue with about 350 seats. All of the aisles were full of people standing and they were 20 deep outside of the door to the theater. Our group is so well received. Quite frankly, it is a bit humbling. I particularly liked Far Eastern because they would never have a foreign group visit their school. Their thirst for contact with our kids and adults was moving. [Tom]

Quite humbling indeed. What it must feel like to be regular kids from a small town in Vermont being treated like royalty in China! Wow.

Let the show begin . . .

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The Show Goes On

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That’s quite a mustache Kyle has! I can hear those trash cans now (very clever drum scene -- top row, second from right). Tom goes on to describe the following photos:

    The interaction between the Chinese and our kids is pretty overwhelming. Claire was treated like a star; seems to run in the Zukas family as I think back to the reaction to Ray here in Qufu. The fact that she is just a lovely person with a smile to be envied could have something to do with it. Many Chinese kids gave our students gifts and a few of them were very emotional at parting with our students, particularly with Taylor. Taylor is a trooper and a great ambassador for the program. Happy Easter. The [chaperones] have put together some Easter baskets for the kids, who are disappointed that there won't be an Easter egg hunt. [Tom]

Do they have jelly beans in China? Or how about peeps?

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Thank you for being
my friend . . .

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Kleenex anyone? Just as the show must go on, so does the journey.

Ann reflects on Easter past and Morgan Mahdavi is the next student to report on the journey.

    Happy Easter to all!

    The last time we were in China for Easter, Julianne Rucker and I took a little sunrise pilgrimage—jogging and riding in a bike-shaw—to the only Church in the big city of Xi’an. That was on unforgettable Easter morning.

    Alas, no church of any shape or form can be found in Qufu, but all was not lost: Today we visited the birthplace of Confucius. It and the adjacent “university” hold such a spiritual richness that being there this morning was, in an odd way, a pretty close second to being in church.

    We’re all doing well. Andi, Susan and Louise played Easter bunny--to the kids' delight. We leave Qufu tomorrow—with mixed feelings: This is always a favorite spot for Journey Easters because of the people here, the environment, the pervasive Confucian buzz ... [Ann]

This is the last day for the group in Qufu. A very special place indeed. Let’s hear from Morgan:

April 7, 2007 -- Morgan Mahdavi, Sophomore

I have been at Leland and Gray since seventh grade and I have been in almost every play that has been put on. I really love to sing, but I’m not ashamed to say that acting really isn’t my strong point. I have always loved to go on stage and sing for people, but there is something about acting that I don’t have -- something you need to be good… I don’t know… . Anyway, tonight and two nights ago on Thursday I felt more comfortable than ever before. I really love this show. I think in the beginning everyone thought our show was going to be a complete disaster and that the Chinese people would hate it. To be totally honest, I had a few moments when I thought it was going to be utterly impossible to pull it together, But seeing everyone out on the stage tonight in front of hundreds of people, seeing everyone-- even kids who have never been on stage before or who spent the day coughing up a lung or ill in bed -- all enjoying themselves and all looking as though there were nowhere else they would rather be than on that stage, singing that song or saying that line, gave a great feeling. It really made me realize what an amazing program this is. To make 29 kids -- all totally different and many with nothing in common -- all come together, make a show and then perform it, well… it really is mind-boggling.

I love how the Chinese react to our shows. After every performance there are tons of Chinese students and teachers standing around wanting to talk to us and take pictures with us -- even give us presents: It really means something to me to know that all these people loved our show so much. It really makes me feel like we’ve reached our goal. This is why we came to China. This is what all that work was for. It all feels worth while now after singing on that stage for those people. And the really amazing thing is that now our show can only get better!

-- Morgan

Aaah, the confidence is building. The performances, the interaction with Chinese teachers and students, the collaborative work with other Chinese performers, seeing and meeting the people of China, visiting and appreciating the historical sights, experiencing their way of life . . . all of these daily ingredients are being mixed into a recipe known as “Journey East.”.

Two weeks ago you each said goodbye to your child. In two weeks, he/she will return a much older person. Not a month older, but older in a way that cannot be measured in years. This is exciting!

Happy Easter everybody!

[JE2007] [April 7] [April 8] [April 9]