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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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Hey Buddha, Can You Spare a Dime?

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TGIFF! (This is Going to be an Interesting and Fantastic Friday!)

We are going to do something completely different today. We are starting to day off with photos! That’s right, we have Giant Buddha and Giant Panda (new!) pics!

Yesterday, the gang took the Minjiang River cruise to see the incredible Giant Buddha . The giant Buddha (in Leshan) is the tallest stone Buddha sculpture in the world. It is 233 feet tall and 92 feet wide! I’d say that falls into the giant category, wouldn’t you?

To give you some perspective, the faces on Mt. Rushmore are 60 feet tall. The Bennington Battle Monument is 306 feet tall.

Okay, lets’ get on with the photos. Here you’ll see the group wearing their life jackets as they visit the monument.

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The Buddha looks pretty good for being 1,200 years old!

Let’s hear what Ruby has to say about the Giant Buddha experience. Here’s Ruby...

ruby iconRuby DeFelice, Freshman, Townshend

Caution cone life vests cascade over our heads and tumble into place hugging our shoulders. The ferry roared to life and we began our trip to the Grand Buddha. The boat traveled down the mucky yellow river towards the great structure gliding with ease the whole way. The current was soft yet strong at the same time, it carried us beyond view of the Buddha so they had to turn around and climb the current until he was in plain sight again. As the 210 ft Buddha came into perspective cameras started snapping and flashing all over the boat. The enormous structure sat in a throne of burnt sienna-colored stone and he was surrounded by rope and wooden stairs and holes all dug into the rock. The site was astonishing and ended too fast; we spent 15 minutes photographing a structure that took 90 years to complete. We never got off the rickety boat, just watched the Buddha from afar. Once the cameras stopped flashing and voices died down, the boat gently fought the current all the way back up stream towards the dock.

A green bus rattles and bangs down the road and on to the highway. Cement stretches as far as the eye can see, besides all the farmland, of course. Our bus swims in and out of cities and towns and swings through the green land. The buses engine roared for two hours or so and then came to an abrupt stop where the shuttle would pick us up. Lines for who had to pee the most to who had to pee the least were constructed. The first shuttle would take those small-bladder kids and the second and third would take the rest of us. The rain was falling at an impressive rate by now, yet the city was still bustling with people. The hotel had a new age atmosphere and a very “Japanese” style, shiny natural patterns on black and red reflective glass, natural patterned rugs and a clean uncluttered vibe. As the sun fell behind the grey dingy clouds and dinner neared, we headed out to eat. We traveled an hour on the bus to a restaurant! But it was worth it! The food was fantastic. The bus ride on the way back was exciting because ice cream was waiting at the end! Once the bus dropped us off some of us went to DQ and some of us went to Haagen Daz. Haagen Daz was expensive so I went to DQ where I got a Raspberry Crush smoothie! It was fantastic!

Doing laundry is a pain. I spent 1 hour washing clothes in the sink, getting soap in my eyes and water all over. I spent another whole hour rinsing clothes and soaking whatever parts of me that were dry. It was an experience; at least I didn’t have to shower. Our days are long and always leave us beat, I’ll sleep like a rock.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

So, as Ruby mentioned, after the tour of the Buddha, the group left Leshan for Chengdu.


After arrival in Chengdu, the group will visit Jinli Street.

Here’s Tom to bring us up to date:

    We're now in Chengdu. Much flatter than Chongqing. Huge city, very modern and extremely busy with traffic. The traffic jams are immense. Given that a small percentage of Chinese have cars, it is hard to imagine what the traffic could be like in five years or so, as more and more people can afford them.

Today, the group visits the Chengdu Research of Giant Panda breeding. China's giant pandas are considered a living national treasure. Research in the areas of reproduction, behavior and nutrition is being done here to help ensure that these endangered species survive. Amazing.

Here they are. Can you them all saying “aaaaaah!” (we can hear you saying it!)

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The Chinese word for Giant Panda is Xiongmao. These are amazing animals and a real treat for the group to be able to see them up close. Great stuff!

Okay, the JE gang will also be performing once again at the Tanghu Middle School in Chengdu.

We might have more photos a little later, so y’all come back now, ya hear?

By the way, Happy Passover and Happy Easter to everyone.













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Program Director: Tom Connor
webmaster/narrator: John Reinhardt