Jesse Riemenschneider wrote -
The Journey East program, established at Leland and Gray High School in 1999, has enabled students to participate in a day-long, semester-long academic experience at the high school and to travel, study and perform during a month-long intensive program in China. Leland and Gray Union High School is located in Townshend Vermont and serves a rural community. During the program, students take courses in Chinese language, culture and history. In addition to their academic work, they create a unique performance to be performed throughout China. The money donated here will go to the Leland and Gray Educational Foundation and go directly to the Journey East Program.
Through the Journey East Program, students travel to China and are asked to perform in front of thousands of Chinese students, go into classrooms and speak in front of a classes of strangers, stay with host families, and collaborate in performances and activities using very little verbal language.This program is a truly inspiring educational experience and it gives students an opportunity to travel and have eye opening life experiences at a young age. In many cases, this program is what sparks a student's ambition and drive to pursue all the opportunities the world has to offer.
From its inception and for the first ten years, the program was supported by the Freeman Foundation and the Asian Studies Outreach Program of the University of Vermont. That funding and support, crucial to the implementation and success of the program, ended five years ago. We have continued Journey East with funding from a variety of sources; significantly larger fees for participants; small grants/contributions from individuals and foundations; tuition income from Chinese students; support from the Leland and Gray School Board and cooperation from the organizations and schools we work with in China. Your support will allow us to continue to offer the amazing opportunities to students and community members from Leland and Gray and surrounding schools and to expand the number of students.
The results of the Journey East experience speak for themselves:
“It’s hard to pin-point the exact moment that ignited my spirit for adventure. There were so many factors along that way that contributed: I know having the multi-cultural parents I do and growing up in such a socially conscious community definitely laid the groundwork. But when I really reflect back, at least in terms of my conscious spirit, I can confidently say it began with Journey East. “ -Morgan Mahdavi, Journey East 2007
“I was fifteen when Journey East carted me away from my safe, comfortable home in rural Vermont and shoved me into the real world. The thing about fifteen year old girls is that they don’t really get the “real world” thing; the only world they tend to be concerned with is their own. So when we placed down in China: busy, enormous, intimidating, unforgiving China, I was no longer a typical teenage girl. I was a unique and lucky girl who was about to experience the best month of her life.” -Giannina Gaspero-Beckstrom, Journey East 2012
“As clichéd and melodramatic as it might sound, Journey East really did change the course of my life. Before the program, I never had much passion for any of the subjects I studied. When I was told to think about careers for the future, my mind went completely blank. After going to China, I fell in love with learning about other cultures and I knew that I wanted cultural exchange to be a major part of my life from then on. “ -Torie Gervais, Journey East 2004
“I can honestly say that I would not have been in DC working for an international nonprofit if I had not participated in Journey East 10 years ago. Through my participation in Journey East I have realized that I have the potential to create positive change in the world and I am working toward that goal everyday. “- Katherine Seaton, Journey East 2005
“Thinking back on it I really can say that the impact of this program has created positive ripples thought out the timeline of my life. Traveling as part of a performing arts group took me out of my comfort zone and taught me that I could do things that I would have never imagined I was capable of before” -Mitch Ellison, Journey East 2002
“I would say the best thing JE taught me that the world is much larger than myself. High school was hard, and it was too easy to navel gaze. Journey East gave me the not only the chance to travel to China but the chance to get out of my own head. Away from school, away from my regular life I was treated differently. I was treated like an adult. It came also at a perfect time for me, at an age where it's so important to know that high school, and all the insecurities that come with it, won't last forever. It gave me confidence. I've gotten older, I've traveled farther, but I'll never really forget that first trip. It was the start of me growing up” -Farrin Sofield 2004
These are just a few of the many reflections past students have written. If you would like to see the full reflections you can go to http://lelandandgray.org/index.php/about-us/journey-east/journey-east-reflections