TOWNSHEND >> The Journey East 2016 delegation from Leland & Gray High School has just returned from a month long cultural-exchange in China, where they have performed their original production "Dare to Dream" in front of thousands of Chinese students and teachers. On Friday at 7 p.m. in the Main Gym at Leland & Gray High School, Journey East 2016 will be putting on their performance for the community. Following this performance, there will be a celebration in L&G's Dutton Gym honoring the co-founder and program director Tom Connor who is retiring from the program this year.
The production "Dare to Dream," was performed in front of various audiences in colleges, secondary schools and primary schools across China. When the students started the Journey East program many of them were inexperienced performers, but after a month even the novices to the stage became seasoned veterans. The show is directed by artistic director Jennifer Connor and musical director Riley Goodemote. Under the direction of Connor and Goodemote, students came up with a show that bridges the cultural and linguistic divide by creating a largely non-verbal show that uses movement and music to captivate the audience. The show is centered around the dreams of four slumbering children. In their dreams, they encounter both the forces of darkness and light.
After the performance on Friday, there will a celebration of the director, Tom Connor. The Journey East program has been in existence since 1999, and hundreds of students, teachers and community members have been a part of this incredible program. From hosting visiting students and teachers, to traveling to China, this community has been deeply impacted by Journey East and the diligent work of Tom Connor.
As part of the program, there is a cultural-exchange between the Arts College of Inner Mongolia and the Leland and Gray community. This exchange has brought students and teachers from Inner Mongolia to Vermont and every other year the Journey East delegation stays at the college and participates in a collaborative performance. This exchange has broadened cultural horizons in both China and Vermont. Because of the work of Mr. Connor, meaningful friendships between people on opposite sides of the globe have been created. Mr. Connor has not only been recognized in Vermont for his work in encouraging cultural-exchange, but this year on the visit to the Arts College of Inner Mongolia Mr. Connor was made an honorary professor of the college.
The students who have participated in Journey East have had their lives impacted in various ways. A current Journey East student, Brianna Reed, said it well when she said "It says something about his personality that he came to China, was inspired and realized how important it was to share what he saw and experienced with others" Mr. Connor has devoted his time and energy to sharing his passion for China with students and the community at large. Many of the students who have participated in this program have gone on to return to China or pursue careers in international relations.
The reception following the performance is open to anyone who has been part of or impacted by the Journey East program. Mr. Connor has had an extraordinary impact on this community and this reception is an opportunity to honor him and all he has done.
The reception following the performance is a dessert potluck and all are encouraged to bring a dessert and share their memories of Tom and the devotion and energy that he has brought to this program and the Windham community at large.