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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?




On the Road Again . . .

Congratulations. You’ve made it to your first weekend. Once we get to Monday, things will settle in and then we’ll start looking for the usual landmarks along the way (first week, etc.) I know your houses are little quieter these days, and we are hoping the pictures of your kids help make it seem they are still close by.

Beijing introduced the group to China, the food, and the feel of the new culture. And it also gave them a chance to catch their breath (and sleep) after such a long trip, the anxiety, anticipation, and preparation. The gang leaves Beijing today, but will return at the end of the journey. After experiencing all that is ahead of them, they will surely see the big city in an entirely different light.

If you are checking the weather, you’ll see that the forecast for Chongqing is going to be around 60 for the high each day. We are looking for some that here in Southern Vermont. Maybe next week.

So now it is off to Chongqing (pronounced Chung-ching) where the group will stay (in that general area, including Luzhou City and Chengdu) until next Saturday, April 3rd. There are a lot of activities scheduled for the next week, so get a large box of popcorn and a comfortable chair and settle in for a fun ride through south central China.

However, before we take off for Chongqing, let’s say goodbye to Beijing with a couple of photos:. 


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Here you see the the 2008 Beijing Olympics National Stadium, commonly referred to as the “Bird’s Nest.” 

The gang took off early this morning for their next destination: Chongqing. Here are a few photos of the group at the airport and one very fancily dressed Asian woman. I wonder what kind of animal that is draped around her neck?

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Looks like the group is taking advantage of the wait time to practice one of their performance pieces. Cool!

This will be an opportunity now for the kids to see the first contrast in lifestyles and the difference between big city, small city, and villages. The experiences in the villages will be so much more personal and emotional. And they will certainly see differences between the cities as well.

The photo on the bottom row, far right, has some particular significance. Here’s Tom to tell us about it. Tom . . .

    One very interesting thing to note. The photo [lower right, above, #23] shows our group with a very prominent environmental lawyer who was featured in one of the videos that I showed parents and students early in the program. The man, Canfa Wang, is the director of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims of CUPL (China University of Political Science and Law. I had mentioned to the group in January that there were quite a few Chinese lawyers who were spending time studying at Vermont Law School in Royalton [Vermont] because of their special interest in environmental law. This man was the leader of that group. We chatted for a while and I asked him to call me should he come back to Vermont, which is a real possibility. Some of his graduate students will be in Vermont this summer. 

    How did this meeting happen? We were all boarding a fllight from Beijing to Chongqing and Bahman struck up a conversation with the man and the connection was made. Pretty amazing.

Wow! What are the odds? Pretty amazing, indeed!

Okay, so let’s hear what Jackie has to say about the day’s adventure:

Jackie iconJacqueline Hazard, Freshman, Jamaica

“A 4:30 A.M. wake-up call? Lovely, am I right? That’s what my day started with but, to be honest, I didn’t mind. We had an early morning flight to Chongqing, the Mountain City. Once we arrived at the airport (in Beijing) Hu Jia kindly check in all of our luggage while we sat in the middle of the terminal chatting and lounging. Some members of our group were getting antsy so we suggested a practice of one of acts; body percussion. We got in place and started the choreographed piece with slaps, stomps and claps. People passing by stopped to watch; some even video-taped us or took out their still cameras. It was a ball and I loved it. We then went through security, successful, of course. Once our flight was called on the intercom we loaded onto a bus. I struck up a conversation with a man next to me and was surprised at how much my Chinese has improved. The plane ride was smooth and we landed in Chongqing at about 10:40.

It was so apparent, from the moment we stepped out of the plane that Chongqing had more of a tropical feel. Once we had collected all of our baggage we boarded another bus and set off for our hotel. The first thing I noticed was green. Palm trees, flowers and bushes were and are everywhere. It definitely gives the city character. We were allowed a break of three hours or so when we reached the hotel. Some of our group showered and changed clothes, others took a nap or talked with friends.

We departed our hotel at around 4:30 and set out for the Stilwell Museum. The museum is basically a tribute to General Joseph Stilwell who worked with the Chinese during the War of Resistance Against Japan (What we call WW II). The museum is housed in what was Stilwell’s headquarters during the war. Stilwell is looked upon as a hero and a real friend to the Chinese for his work on the Burma Road (also called the Stilwell Road, in his honor) and for his efforts to help the Chinese fight against the Japanese invaders. There are many original photos of Stilwell with Mao and various other Chinese military figures, including Chiang Kai Shek, in whom Stilwell did not have much faith.

The narrow, winding road that we took after visiting the museum snaked around one tight turn after another and the tunnels that were dug to protect Chongqing’s citizens during the constant Japanese bombing were evident everywhere.

Another delicious feast followed this visit to the museum. It hasn’t gotten old yet. Everyone is encouraged to at least sample the food. We left the restaurant feeling full and rather sleepy!

Jackie does a terrific job of explaining the significance of General Stilwell and the Stilwell museum. This is one of Tom’s favorite places. She also touches on her first impressions of Chongqing’s “tropical” feel.

There is rarely a report where the students don’t comment on the food. It is so different than what they are used to eating here at home. Many of them will be tested and will find that they really do like so many things they didn’t think they would. And there is the challenge to learn to use the chopsticks. Don’t be surprised if your child requests Chinese food when they get home and pulls out a pair of chopsticks to eat!

Okay, let’s check out the initial photos of their arrival in Chongqing:

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We will have an updated Chongqing itinerary for you tomorrow morning. Before we leave for the day, I want to touch on something. I often refer to the group as “kids.” I hope you understand that I don’t think of them as kids, I think of them as young adults that will mature considerably during the course of the next few weeks.

Also, don’t forget to check out the “Where Are They Now” link (top of page) and the “Group Photos” page now and then as I will update those as new photos are provided.

That’s all, folks. Enjoy!

Do you you know the longest word in the English language?

[JE2010] [March 26] [March 27] [March 28]

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Program Director: Tom Connor
webmaster/narrator: John Reinhardt