Journey East 2018 Ready to Go!

On March 22, fourteen Leland and Gray students enrolled in the Journey East Program will depart for a month of performance and cultural study in China. After having been accepted into the Journey East Program at Leland and Gray in February of 2017, and starting the program in January 2018, students have been participating in a semester-long academic experience. They have been learning Chinese language, culture, and history, as well as creating a unique production to be performed across China.

The production, entitled Out of our Element, is directed by new artistic director Karli Kauffeld. Kauffeld was a student participant in this program in 2007 and has come back to direct. The students, under the direction of Kauffeld, have been creating a show that can be enjoyed by audiences both in China and in the United States. The cultural and linguistic divide is bridged by a largely non-verbal show that uses movement and music to captivate the audience. This show will be performed in primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, and universities in various places across China including Kaili in Guizhou Province, Mile in Yunnan Province, Chongqing, Qufu in Shandong Province, and Hohhot in Inner Mongolia.

The variety of locales to be visited on this trip will give students a diverse and in-depth look at China and its culture. Students will see important cultural sites, visit schools, and interact with Chinese students at each stop on the tour. The Journey East students will stay with host families in Guizhou Province, giving them first-hand experience of life in China. In Hohhot, they will rehearse and collaborate with students from the Arts College of Inner Mongolia University. This collaboration will result in a culminating performance in front of an audience of 1,500 students and teachers at the Arts College.

Upon returning from China the Journey East group will be performing Out of our Element at various places around Vermont, including an evening performance at the Leland and Gray Main Gym on Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 that is open to the community. In addition to that performance, the students will be performing at their elementary schools to share their experiences with local students.

Since Journey East began in 2000, over 250 students from rural Vermont have had the opportunity to travel to China and be immersed in China’s rich and complex culture.

This year’s group of students includes:Ethan Abbot (Jamaica), Maddie Chase (Londonderry/Townshend), Trey Crego (Newfane/Jamaica) Emily Frost (Newfane), Quinn Kelloway (Newfane), Ben Kelly (Brookline), Ellie Longo (Jamaica), Caroline Mehner (Wardsboro), Rita Messing (Wilmington), Luke Parker-Jennings (Athens), Isabela Schmidt (Townshend), Siena Sperling (Marlboro), Avery White (Townshend), Alex Urbaska (Newfane)

The adults on the trip will be: Jesse Riemenschneider (Program Director), Karlie Kauffeld(Artistic Director), Kevin Burke (Technology Coordinator) and Paul Paytas (Chaperone)

For more information on the trip, the performance, and the Journey East program, visit

The website will be updated with photos and student essays and reflections on a daily basis beginning on March 23 and extending through April 20.

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