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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?




Soccer to me, Baby!

Good morning, all.

Should have a load of photos later today, so don’t go wandering off too far. Hey, any Red Sox fans in the crowd? Congrats on a fantastic start to the new season! Okay, okay, hold it down.

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This is what the UConn womens’ NCAA basketball team is hoping to do tonight. Sweep everything and everyone two consecutive seasons in a row for 78 straight wins!

Okay, we have some photos and a couple of student reports. Both reports reflect on yesterday’s events, so we’ll start our day with those. First up is Ferne:

ferne iconFerne Johansson, Freshman, Marlboro

The alarm rang at 6:00 A.M. The dorms were full or early morning quiet as a few of us made our way into the softly lit courtyard of Qufu University. After having spent a ridiculous amount of time on a cramped and stuffy bus having the time and freedom to get up early to run is the best feeling ever. For the record, I am not a runner and I tend to complain when urged to do so. This, though, was amazing. The campus itself is great. There are people of all ages walking around parks with picturesque but generally filthy ponds, shops, and the freedom to walk around outside the dorms.

Later in the afternoon, we all ventured out of the campus and into the maze of bikes and street vendors. I couldn’t decide whether the locals found us obnoxious or just amusing; Either way, we definitely attracted our share of attention. This wasn’t a polished, tourist-friendly town like Chongqing and we were most definitely out of place. The market we ended up in was both chaotic and amazing. The merchandise ranged from Nike shoes to chicken heads, cleverly-cut pineapples to cream puffs. The street was a jumble of stores, vendors, trash, people and bicycles. It felt like such a real part of China and I’m really glad that I had the chance to experience it.

The banquet was held in the same room on campus where we eat all of our meals but this was a much more formal and festive affair than usual. Director Li Haiqing made some speeches; we sang some songs; we all ate dinner and headed back to our dorms

The dorms are full of late night quiet and I’m setting my alarm for 6:00 A.M. tomorrow.

As in journey’s past, at this point in the journey, the students really enjoy the peacefulness of running, walking, and just being out and about in Qufu. After all of the lights and action of the cities before, Qufu offers the students a chance to get “up close and personal” with China.

Okay, another alarm clock is about to go off, so let’s get to it. Wake up, Jessica:

jessica iconJessica Young, Sophomore, Brookline

Who’s counting the days?

I woke up this morning not expecting a wake up call. To my surprise, at 7:14 the phone rang and the other end was a shy Chinese voice telling me to “um, get up!”

After a breakfast consisting of the same bread, eggs and unsweetened coffee we headed over to the building that was completely empty except for the 36 or 37 of us. The building was blue and extremely cold, which seemed to sort of complete the effect of us being in for a real treat.

The treat was a lecture on Chinese folk songs. The woman delivering the lecture spoke no English so we had to have a translator. It must have been frustrating beyond belief for the teacher not to understand what we, her students, were saying. Believe me, I know how she must have felt. She taught with a smile on her face and it was an enjoyable experience.

Folk songs are very popular in China. They are written to show true feelings of happiness or sorrow. There are three categories: work song, which have to do with labor and the people working; mountain songs, which describe life, wildlife and love in the mountains, and ditties, which describe the way someone feels after work or some big social event, such as a festival.

The teacher gave us an example of each type of song. Her voice was very sweet and soft but, because of the terrible acoustics in the room, the room was filled with a sound that overpowered us all. Through her inability to speak English and through the occasional cough and water break, we communicated through music and smiled. We even learned and sang a very popular song; The Kanding Love Song.

Our day was slowly fading into a rehearsal, which turned out to be very hectic with all the instruments tuning and people yelling at one another in order to get ready when all we really prepared for was disaster.

Our failed attempt at rehearsal dragged into lunch, which led to free time and finally, the highlight of my day. Of course, we had to load our large group into the bus again, but the ride was worth it.

Our destination was the birthplace of Confucius and the school that was founded to spread his teachings. Confucius was born in a very small cave with a stone bed and pillow. It surprises and inspires me to know that someone who started off with so little aspired to be a successful person left a great and lasting impression on such a large part of the world. The school consisted of these little one room buildings that are now on display for tourists. Amazing jade pictures depicted the life of Confucius in a story that I was unable to comprehend. I guess that’s okay because it left me wondering in awe. The atmosphere was much more peaceful here than many of the other sites that we have visited so I was more than happy when we were given our own time to sit or roam around and absorb things at our own pace and in a way that we wanted. It was nice to sit in the shade with friends and just talk. I left feeling tired but calm and content.

On the way home we stopped at a village that is hard to describe both in size and personality. The landscape is flat yet surrounded by these magnificent mountains. It was extremely dry; all roads and paths were dirt and covered in trash. The place was so different in personality from Chongqing or Beijing and yes, that may be because it is a village, but how so many people can live together in these different places amazes me. So many of the villagers were happy and seemed so at ease. Many were happy to have us take pictures of them, their children and their property, while others looked at us with confused looks and almost angry faces. It seemed as though some of them wanted us to stay away and not take over their village. I am glad that I got to experience the village. It makes me feel less materialistic and like I have seen part of real China. I hope that I will get the opportunity to do more of that in the future.

Two weeks ago you spent your last night with your child getting them ready for this journey. You talked about what the trip will mean, what they might experience, how great it will be. In just two more two weeks, your child will return a much older person. Not just a month older, but older in ways that cannot be measured in years. They will tell you in person that you were right, this is great!!!

Here’s a special note from one of the chaperones, Bahman Mahdavi. Bahman’s daughter, Morgan was in the 2007 Journey East program. Emmet is in this one. Here is a touching comment on spending time with your kids . . .

    . . . what a truly wonderful group of students we have here. I've known some of them for a long time, and have just been acquainted with others, but they are all, without exception, individually and as a group, a true delight to be around and to travel with. They are tough, curious, smart, caring, funny, compassionate, patient, and yes, talented. The time spent with your children has been the best part of this trip for me.

Wow. Thank you, Bahman! There’s a lot of pride swirling around right now!

So, what’s on tap for today’s activities? Yes, you in the back row! That’s right, someone might get a chance to play -- ping pong (don’t call it ping pong)! Table tennis is China’s national sport.

The group has a busy day today. They will visit the Attached Middle School of Qufu Normal University and then they’ll attend an English Class. The gang will then have a chance to play some soccer, basketball, and ping pong with Chinese students.

Let’s check out photos of the kids playing soccer and spending time at the Attached Middle School:

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I am sure many of these kids feel right at home on the soccer field. After months of cold and snow in Vermont, it must fee really good to play again.

This afternoon and evening, the group will visit the Far East Vocational Technical College. And then, if that isn’t enough, they will top off the day putting on another performance.

Another fantastic day in Qufu. If you haven’t taken the time yet to learn about Qufu, here are a couple more links to help.

I think that’s all we are going to get today. The performance was a late one, so those photos will be on tomorrow’s page. Can’t wait to see those!!

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Looks like someone has broken away to form a new band!


“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”


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