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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?




Half Way Home!

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Congratulations, parents!

You’ve made it to the half way point of this journey. Two weeks ago you said good bye to your kids, and two weeks from today you’ll be saying hello to your kids!

I know it hasn’t been easy, and this next week will probably be the toughest week of the journey. But the good news is that we have lots of photos and stories to get you through it all!

So, let’s get started. Tom will guide us through today’s events. But first . . . (hahaha) look! It’s Tom! He’s in the picture! The man behind the camera is in front of the camera! Way to go Tom. But wait, if Tom is in the picture, then . . .

Here’s Tom:

    Far East College is about a forty five minute drive from Qufu Normal University and it is set on the side of a hill out in the countryside.

    The trip out, on a sometimes very narrow road, took us through hundreds of acres of wheat fields and through numerous villages, which seem like a step back in time; dark blue suits and "Mao" hats on the peasants, lots of street activity and every kind of conveyance known to man; ox carts, bicycles, motorbikes, cars, trucks, three-wheeled vehicles, etc.

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    The school, a private one owned by some Taiwan investors, is directed by Chinese from Los Angeles. The setting is beautiful; steep, rocky mountains, in three directions, blue sky (the first we have seen in two weeks, although I did get a glimpse of a patch of blue in Chengdu one
    morning) and a nice gentle breeze with breathable air ( a scarce commodity in some areas in which we have been).

    We have visited this school three times previously, beginning in 2005, and the welcome is always very warm, as seen in the photos of all the students and teachers standing in line as we exit the bus and walk up the hill
    toward the conference room.

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    Mr. Liu, "Joe," greeted us. We have met on numerous occasions. He is from L.A., I think he said Cerritos, and is a very friendly, funny gentleman whose manner and speech clearly reflect his 40 years living in the States. The native Chinese, who we are used to interacting with, are much more reserved, not necessarily uptight, but more formal. Mr. Liu is definitely not formal. The kids were put at ease right away and were particularly excited when "Joe" told them that he made sure that the beautiful large, red, sweet, strawberries that were on the table in front of them had been washed with bottled water, not tap water, and were therefore okay for them to eat. Talk about manna from heaven! Joe made an instant connection with our kids who have been eyeing untouchable strawberries for the past two weeks!

Here are a couple of sound files for your listening pleasure. The first one (#1) is Mr. Lliu's comments in the introduction to Far East School. The second one (#2) is a funny conversation between Ann Chase and a Chinese student:

Far East School #1 -- Far East School #21

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In the bottom row, third from left (second from the right) Mary (Martin) i shown with the Party Secretary. Apparently, he's asked her to request a leave from Leland & Gray so she can be his administrative assistant! Stay tuned as this story unfolds ... back to you, Tom:

    Twelve or so Chinese students met us after our little get-together in the conference room and our kids connected with these students immediately.

    The Chinese kids were great, informative and genuinely interested in enjoying the experience with our students, as illustrated in the photos.

    As opposed to the visits to some of the middle schools in Chongqing and Sichuan, which were basically mob scenes and a little intimidating, this interaction was pretty civilized and mellow.
    There just seemed to be some nice real conversation; a relief for our kids, I am sure. No mayhem, which was really nice.

    We spent some time with some student calligraphers and their teacher, who did pieces for each member of our delegation. Dinner was excellent! Not sure that the fare was what the students here eat on a daily basis but we had no complaints. Jenny, Mary, Bahman and I sat with Mr. Liu and other leaders of the school, including the Party (as in CPC Party) Secretary, a really nice guy who I have met three times previously. It’s pretty neat to arrive at a place on the other side of the world and recognize people who I have made contact with in the past.

    It also feels pretty neat to know that we can recognize and acknowledge one another.

Pretty amazing, eh? Next up is the performance. Let’s check it out:

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    The performance, our first full performance in China, (minus Ruby's Norah Jones song, as Ruby was down for the count today) was excellent. There are always bugs, technical and otherwise, and flexibility, figuring things out on the fly, which are essential to success here, stood us in good stead. Jenny and Ron are great at keeping their cool, maintaining their composure and getting the kids focused in the middle of a maelstrom of bodies, (40 Chinese kids backstage moving things around, trying to be
    helpful,) ( sounds, ultra loud speakers, etc. . The kids, as they do, energized by the crowd and the pressure of performing in front of 600 people in a place that seats about 300, pull it off, with smiles on their faces. They did well, they knew it and were proud of it. I've said it before but I'll say it again: it's pretty cool to sit out in the audience and watch our kids just nail it in a foreign land. The Chinese loved the show, all of it.

    I've had the pleasure of watching my own kids perform here, on numerous occasions, back in 2000 and in 2002 and couldn't help but enjoy watching Bahman well-up with pride as he saw one of his own kids perform in real time.
    Diane was back at the ranch (the hotel) with a couple of students who weren't feeling well, but I'm sure that she has the same feelings when she watches Jesse singing "Ophelia."

The photos show that each performance the group does, they get better and better. can’t wait to see them perform “back home.”


    Got back late last night [after the performance], didn't have to prod anyone to go to bed. Room check five minutes after we got back on the campus and, 10 minutes later, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Well, there may have been a mouse or two but no Journey East kids or adults. It was definitely time for some Z's!


Each morning, Chinese students participate in group exercise. Here are some photos Tom caught of the school children this morning:

    . . . elementary kids on the playground doing morning exercises; about 600 or 700 kids. Same thing happening at the same time, all over China. 

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The stay in Qufu is coming to a fast and furious finish tomorrow as the group gives its last performance and then the farewell banquet. They then head off to Jinan Friday morning.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There is much to be done here in Qufu.

Tomorrow, we’ll have photos of the group visiting Confucius Forest and more pictures of “knotty” trees!

80s today in southern Vermont! Don’t get sunburned (in April?).

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Far out Far East


























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Program Director: Tom Connor
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