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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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A Star is Born

Hi Everybody! We’ve got lots of photos for you today!

Throughout this trip, we focus on the students and their activities. But if not for the chaperones, the students (and staff) would not be able to focus on the things they need to do. The chaperones work hard to be guides, guards, mentors, mothers, companions, workers, assistants, and just about anything else anyone asks of them. They are the unsung, unseen heroes of the trip.

Journey East has had great chaperones with Pat Burleson and Jenny Connor in 02; and Jean McIntire, Carolyn Scully and Janet Lucier in 04; Elyn Bichof and Mimi Wright in ‘05; Andi Anderson, Susan Daigneault, and Louise McDevitt in ‘07; and Carol Bailey, Vera Gervais, and Kurt Tietz in ‘08.

This year’s dedicated team of chaperones is no exception with Bahman Mahdavi, Mary Martin, and Diane Newton taking on those roles. We take great pride and comfort knowing our kids are being cared for by these wonderful people. It’s because of them, we can relax and enjoy the journey. So, could we take a moment and have a rousing round of applause for these three people? Who, it’s a “Standing O!” Well done everyone. Thank you Bahman, Mary, and Diane!

Before we join the group and head off for the day, we have a report from Sarah Levine. Sarah tells us about their first performance and being a star.

Sarah L.Sarah Levine, Sophomre, Dummerston

Breathe! We’re all going to do great. It doesn’t matter that we’re being watched by hundreds of expectant Chinese students, or that this is our first real performance and there’s the quite large possibility that everything could go wrong. What matters is that we’re here. Lights are up. We take our first tentative steps onto the stage . . . but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at this school (Jiangbei Middle School) excited and chattering. After putting down our bags, we were divided into small groups and taken to different class rooms filled to the brim with children. They stared at us and we, just a curious, stared back. We introduced ourselves with nervous laughter and red cheeks and then were led out onto the biggest soccer field I have ever seen. Looking back to where we had just come from, we saw a literal wave of students begin to descend on the soccer field. Five thousand (5,000) students plus hundreds of teachers were eventually on the field and every one of them was staring at us. Suddenly, they began assembling into massive, absurdly straight lines, facing the flag. We did as they did and listened to China’s national anthem. And then, we were swarmed!

As soon as the music stopped playing, layer upon layer of students catapulted our way. Picture after picture was asked for and taken and our faces hurt from smiling. Against everyone’s wishes, it was soon time for us to get ready for the performance. We had a few last hugs and pictures and made our way to the auditorium. We were finally ready and we were nervous beyond belief.

Breathe. They’ll love you. Lights up. Step out. That’s it, now get into your line. Good, that was easy. Cue music. Wait! What’s the first move?

And so, your stars are born, ladies and gentlemen! The group has experienced their first taste of pure stardom. They are celebrities. There’s no turning back now. Here’s Tom with an explanation:

    We’ve seen this in photos so many times over the past few years. This is a pretty awesome and overwhelming experience for our students, some of whom went to elementary schools with 15 or 20 kids. Jiangbei has 5,000 students, many of whom have never seen a Caucasian, all of whom are studying English and all of whom would like to practice their English language skills with an American student. It is, no doubt, the first time that our students have ever been the absolute focus of attention of so many people. It can be overwhelming. It will happen many times as we visit quite a number of schools during this program. I particularly enjoy watching our kids go through this for the first time. It is quite a heady experience, one which our students react to and process in very different ways.

Every school the group visits, they will be treated like celebrities. This is really cool stuff. We’ll have photos of these experiences during the course of the journey.

Okay, so today the group visited the Three Gorges Museum and then headed south (about 10 miles) to Luzhou City where they visited with students and teachers at Luzhou High School.

The Three Gorges Museum represents the historical culture of the Three Gorges Project, the world’s largest hydropower project. It also represents the culture and history of the Chongqing area.

This is the first group to visit Luzhou, so new experiences await.

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We’ve got a bunch of pictures from today’s activities, so let’s get to them. But first . . . let’s hear from Tom:

    Three Gorges Museum in the morning, three hour bus ride and a pretty wild scene at Luzhou High School. The photos sort of tell it all. Lots of fun. A number of our kids had some great conversations with teachers and students here at the school.
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    This high school is ranked in the top ten of all of the schools in Sichuan and is one of the top 100 schools in the country -- 6,800 students a
    nd classes of 65 and 70!

That’s impressive. Top 100 in the country!! Wow.

Hey, what’s all the noise in the background? Hold it down back there! Oh, sorry. It’s the photos. Apparently, they have a lot to say about the day’s events. Okay, start talking . . . er, singing!

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Me-me-me-me- . . .
(Today China, tomorrow American Idol!)


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High School

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And now, it’s time to “face” the music!

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I don’t know about you, but I can actualy hear that saxaphone wailing! Play it, Ron! You can really see the wonderment, amazement, joy, and calm in their faces. The kids are now starting to settle into their daily life now. This is so cool.

REMINDER: Don’t forget to refresh your web page each time you visit. This will ensure you are getting the latest version of the day’s page. Updates can happen throughout the day.

I’ll leave you with your fist lesson in speaking Chinese. To say “hello” in Chinese, simply say “knee how.” (ni hao). Here are some common phrases for travelers.

You are all doing great! Keep up the good work!















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Program Director: Tom Connor
webmaster/narrator: John Reinhardt