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tn_Children's Palace , Guild Hall and Downtown 140
JE 2008

China time and date:


T-Minus 10!

Hey everybody!

Finally, we get to start the final countdown. We are just ten days away from the return of the JE2008 group. They have been gone now for three weeks and the final days will be spent in JE’s “home away from home,” Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

    Before we get started, please check out the article, “Reflections of an International Journey,” written by Melissa Soule in the Weekend Reformer. This is a beautiful piece of writing, reflecting on the true meaning and inspiration of this journey. Well done, Melissa! Hard to believe, from their writing, many of these “kids” are only freshman in high school!

The group leaves behind the experiences of the cities and moves to real down-to-earth life in Inner Mongolia. It is in Hohhot where these kids will truly find themselves. Everything they have done up to this point has been preparing them for what they are about to encounter over the next 10 days.

The kids have experienced highs and lows emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They have had three weeks now to “shake the sillies out,” so-to-speak. They now appear to be comfortable with themselves (individually and collectively) and with being in China.

While in Hohhot, they will reunite with some Inner Mongolian students, with whom they became good friends during their visits to Vermont. They will work side-by-side with these, and other students, as they study, create and rehearse their collaborative performance pieces. Our students will perform several times in the coming days (with their Mongolian friends) providing us with many wonderful performance photos!.

For those who have spent any time with the Mongolians during the Vermont visits, lifetime friendships will be created in the next ten days. Many of the previous JE kids continue to communicate with their Mongolian friends they met while on their respective journeys.

Okay, so let’s get on with today’s activities. We are expecting photos soon, so hang in there. We do have a report from Sarah Seaton to get us started and we have a couple of new sound bites for your listening pleasure.

Here’s Sarah telling us about her “Hohhot family:”:

Sarah Seaton, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia 4/13/08

I have always known that this program is supposed to create lasting friendships between the Americans and the Chinese but I don’t think I really understood how long these friendships last or how deep they are until today when we arrived in Inner Mongolia.

We were warmly greeted by many of our Chinese friends and even TV cameras! Aruna, a singer who my family hosted, greeted me with a warm hug and a huge smile that made me realize how much I missed her and how happy I was to see her.

After we had greeted everyone we headed to our hotel. Once there we met Sun Xioayan, who the Tietz family hosted and one of the people I got to know very well. She ran up to me and then ran over to Kurt and Michaela and exclaimed “Oh, my family is here” and hugged them both. This comment sticks out in my mind because even though she was with them a short time she considers them to be her family.

Michaela and I went up to our room and were visited shortly after by Xiaoyan, who had ice creams for us! We then took the bus to the Inner Mongolia University Art College where we were once again greeted by old friends. 

Duguima, another lady who we hosted, greeted me with a loud scream and a big hug! She took me by the hand and led me inside to the room where everyone was getting reacquainted with their Chinese and Mongolian friends. We beckoned to a translator to help us with our communication and I was shocked at how much Duguima remembered about me and my family. Seeing how much she cared about us made me feel as though she was like a member of our family.

Once the teachers left, we sat down with some college students and talked with them about their lives and ours. The girl who Landis, Michaela and I sat with was a 21 year old musician who was fascinated by our faces and lives. She asked the standard questions about boy friends and classes and then she asked for a picture with us. She was so warm and friendly and this, combined with all of our other welcomes, made me feel so at home that I now feel as though I am with my family. 

Very cool.

Do you remember Tom telling us, in yesterday’s report, about the beautiful bouquet of flowers he received at the Hohhot airport? Well, check it out!

Here’s Mike telling us about the two new sound files available for you. These are a from a visit to the Da Zhao monastery. Mike:

    The two clips are from our morning visit to Da Zhao, the largest and oldest monastery in the city. I chose to interview Jake because he and Lena Glickman were questioning many of the things we were seeing, having found some discrepancies between what they have learned previously about Buddhism, and what this monastery seemed to represent to them. In my mind this is a huge step forward for some of the students, as they no longer take things for face value and are questioning some of what they are being told and by who. They show a genuine interest in being more than tourists here, and I hope they continue to pursue some of these deeper questions during the remainder of our trip and when we return to Vermont. [Mike]

Mike touches a very important learning challenge the journey presents to the kids -- don’t take things for what they “seem” to be -- seek out the truth, the answers to your questions. Good stuff.

If you haven’t done this already, go back and look at the different photos (from the beginning) while listening to the various sound files.

We are expecting photos a little later. Here is Tom bringing us up to date:

    We visit Dazhao Lamasery and the Five Pagoda Temple this morning, have lunch at Badawan Restaurant and the a rehearsal from 2:30 until 6 tonight with dance, vocal and instrumental teachers. The hip hop piece that the JE kids have been doing will be changed a bit into a collaborative piece with 12 to 15 Chinese/Mongolian kids added to the mix. Should be a scene. These kids are such good dancers that I am sure they will pick it up in a flash. Could take our kids, most of whom are not dancers, a little longer to pick up the Mongolian dance. Mike will be working with 8 of our musicians and with Xing Changjiang and his instrumentalists on a couple of pieces, as well. The whole group will rehearse vocal music from 4:30 until 6 today. Busy, busy afternoon.

    Our time here is 3 days shorter than it has been so our task is difficult. I am appreciative of the fact that our hosts, who now have lots of experience in Vermont and in our school, recognize that we have very young kids who do not specialize in a particular field, such as dance or violin, etc. They are very clear that what is important is that we all work and perform together, recognizing that none of what we do together will be ready for a performance at Lincoln Center or some other such venue.

    The hotel that we are staying at here is great. Just returned from breakfast, which is buffet style, much like the Holiday Inn in Chongqing or the hotel in Shanghai. Have not been overwhelmed with mutton just yet but am sure that we will have plenty of opportunities to sample this local favorite many times over the next week or so.

    Life couldn't get much better; sitting in my room on the 11th floor of a nice hotel in Inner Mongolia, China watching [the Red Sox take it to] the Yankees! Love it. [Tom]

Hahahahaha. Great finish, Tom!

Okay, everybody, we’ll get pictures up as soon as they arrive. Until then, let’s find out a little about Inner Mongolia and Hohhot while we have the time:

  • Hohhot (pronounced (hoe-haught) is the capital of Inner Mongolia. Population 2 million.
  • Inner Mongolia is bordered by Mongolia and Russia on the north.
  • It covers 1.1 million square km, with a population of nearly 23.8 million.
  • It is often referred to as the “Blue City.”
  • Anything else you want to know? Well, then be my guest and visit this link.

We’ll leave you with a sample question of the forthcoming quiz (Did you forget about the quiz? Oh no! You’d better be studying, you only have ten more days!): Do any of you know the symbol of Hohhot?






















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