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Journey East web site




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.

We wish to thank Holden Waterman, Director of the Asian Studies Outreach Program University of Vermont, and Dr. Juefei Wang, (former Director of the ASOP).

The Leland and Gray Journey East program is deeply indebted, and extends its heartfelt thanks, to Dr. Juefei Wang and Tom Connor, without whose efforts and support this program would not be possible!

Leland & Gray
Journey East 2010

Tom Connor
Program Director

Jenny Connor
Ron Kelley


Mary Martin
Diane Newton
Bahman Mahdavi


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Where Are They Now?




You’ve Got a Friend . . .

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Hey Everybody!

The above photo is of Jenny with Unaer, an old friend of Devan Piniewski (JE 2007), Mike Roberts (JE 2008 Musical Director) and Tom and Jenny Connor. Unaer is from Xinjiang and gave Devan lessons on the horsehead fiddle. Very cool.


That’s right, 8 days and counting. Wow, have we got photos for you today? Well, do we? Yes, we do! And we’re talking photos with a capital “P”, that rhymes with “Glee” and I don’t mean me, ‘cause I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming . . . sorry, I got carried away.

Ahem. I know you are anxious to see the photos, so let’s get started. The first batch is of the Welcome Banquet:






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And a grand time was had by all! Nice to see Tom now and then!

Okay, so that took place on their first night in Hohhot. A chance to reunite with old friends and become acquainted with new.

Yesterday, the group visited Xing'an Road Primary School in the morning and then had an exchange at the Inner Mongolia Kindergarten of Xingcheng District. Being around the very young Chinese and Mongolian children is always a highlight for the JE kids. Just take a look at these pictures and you’ll see why. First up is playtime outside. Oh, by the way, it was very cold that morning - it even snowed!













Next up was visiting the classrooms and watching the young Mongolian children perform. Simply incredible!

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Say Cheese!

First, it’s “getting to know you” time . . .

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And now it is time to perform for the American visitors. . .

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Dancin’, Yeah!

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Here are sound clips to accompany the photos above:

Audio Clip A -- Audio Clip B

Diane, Jesse, Bahman and Emmet met with Wurigen, the young Mongolian horsehead fiddler who stayed with each family last fall. A joyous reunion, to be sure. Bahman helped Wurigen buy a guitar, and Wurigen is telling him [sound clip C] that it is the #1 guitar in Hohhot.

Audio Clip C

An now, we break away for a very interesting story. Diane Newton, one of the three chaperones, needed some medical assistance and she shares with us her fascinating visit to the hospital.

Diane iconDiane Newton, Chaperone, Windham

Visit to a Chinese Hospital

As I walk up the hospital steps wild thoughts are running through my head. Will my ear ever feel right again? What equipment does this place have? How will they be able to remove what is in my ear? I hope for good luck.

The night before, at the Welcome Banquet for our group, the directors of the Arts College of Inner Mongolia told us that Anna, a translator, would go with me in the morning to the hospital. I explained to her that a tiny piece of ear plug was stuck in my ear. She listened carefully and took with her the ear plug information sheet that stated only an ear, nose and throat doctor has the proper equipment to remove foreign material from the ear. Anna tells me confidently that her Uncle is an important man at the hospital and he will help us.

Later, that evening at the hotel, Tom knocks on my room door and tells me that “they (the Arts College officials) want Bahman to go with you tomorrow.” Inside, this sets off alarm bells. Why is this necessary? But here we are in Inner Mongolia, 7,000 miles from a western hospital, so go with the flow.

In the morning two translators arrive promptly at the hotel with a car and a driver. It is beginning to feel like we have an entourage of people going to the hospital. Our driver skillfully maneuvers through the morning traffic; Anna tells us that we are going to the largest hospital in Inner Mongolia. As we entered the building a doctor in a long white jacket meets us with a smile. It is Anna’s Uncle. With few words, he leads us through a maze of stairs and hallways. There are people everywhere, long lines waiting to receive treatment. This place was not exactly a sparkling western hospital. The floors were sort of dirty, the windows were flaking paint. The light was dim in the narrow hallways and no smells of antiseptic graced the air. Bahman and I looked at each other. You can imagine our thoughts.

As we maneuver along, Anna’s Uncle eventually brings us to a counter; he moves right to the front of the line. After he has a quick word with the nurse, I am whisked into a doctor's office. It is a tiny space with half walls. We can see other patients being treated. With the translator nearby and Bahman just outside the half wall, the doctor looks into my ear with a hand lens. After a moment, she tells us that she can not see anything. Following a discussion with Anna’s Uncle, the doctor tells us they need a “picture” of my ear. We are ushered down the hallway and enter a room where there is another doctor. He places a tiny camera in my ear. In a moment my ear drum appears on a computer screen. There are red spots on it. The doctor thinks that the earplug when it was pulled out injured my ear drum and caused an infection. So I am told I need "medicine." The day before two American student teachers from the Arts College had told us that it was difficult to get oral antibiotics in China. Apparently, antibiotics are typically given through IVs. With the translator’s help, I ask would the medicine be a pill. The doctor smiles and nods yes. So I said okay, I will get it, still not knowing what it was I was going to get.

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Anna’s Uncle then leads us to a counter where payment is done; he moves again right to the front of the line. In order to make payment, Anna’s Uncle tells us that I need a Chinese name; they make one up on the spot. He confers at the counter with the women. Anna’s Uncle tells us that because we are foreigners we have “prestige.” We are guests in their country and I will pay only what Chinese patients pay. The fee is about 50 Yuan ($7.33). Astounded, I pay the tiny fee. I don’t understand why I needed the Chinese name, but I ask no questions.

Then we are off to the pharmacy in the hospital. Anna’s Uncle gets the medicine. It costs about 30 Yuan ($4.40). I pay for it and then I see what it is, erythromycin, a general antibiotic. I am thrilled. I hug the doctor and thank him. He, through Anna, tells me to drink lots of water and to keep water out of my ear.

Outside, back in the car, Bahman and I expressed our gratitude to both of the translators. We are all very happy that the hospital visit went so well. It took under an hour. As we drive along, Bahman and I realize that it would be good to have more of this medicine for some other members of our group. Bahman asks Anna if it would be possible to have her Uncle help us get more of it. She tells us this is not necessary. We drive right to the pharmacy. There, Anna shows our box of medicine to the women behind the counter. She finds it on the shelf. We decide we want four boxes. The cashier tells us it will cost 26 Yuan. Bahman says that can’t be right. She must mean at least 200 hundred Yuan. But no, it is 26 Yuan ($3.81) for all four boxes. We pay and leave with the medicine, astonished that it had cost so little and required no prescription.

During our trip we have frequently encountered the warmth and kindness of the Chinese people. But here, in Inner Mongolia, this has been especially true. From the moment we stepped off the plane, representatives from the Arts College have done everything possible to make our stay really pleasant. But this experience at the hospital went beyond what I thought was possible in terms of care and kindness. It revealed to me the depth of the relationship that Journey East has with the Arts College. We are treated like family, and as such, at the hospital Anna and her Uncle took us under their wings and expertly navigated us through it.

Amazing. Thank you Anna, and your uncle, for being a friend . . .

Well,, that wraps up what we have at this point. Today, the group is visiting the Dazhao Lamasery. Here is a map to show you where they will be.

We promised you lots of photos today and I think we delivered! This might be a record day. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out when you take the quiz!

We leave you with some “out and about” photos:

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Okay everybody, enjoy the day. it’s another sunny one here in southern Vermont.

Let’s check the weather in Hohhot. B-r-r-r-r-r!

Hohhot, Nei Mongol Zizhiqu, China Weather Forecast


[JE2010] [April 12] [April 13] [April 14]

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Program Director: Tom Connor
webmaster/narrator: John Reinhardt