Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cultural Differences Become Art to Perform, Not Barriers to Cross

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cultural Differences Become Art to Perform, Not Barriers to Cross

Article excerpt

What's great about the teachers at Leland & Gray Union is that they think outside the box," says Ann Landenberger, who teaches English and theater at the small middle/high school in rural Townshend, Vt. Apparently, the teachers think outside the hemisphere as well.

In 2000, Thomas Connor, a history teacher at L&G, returned from his fifth trip to the Far East with an idea: Take a group of Townshend's students to China on an arts exchange.

It was met with enthusiasm by Ms. Landenberger and L&G's musical director, Ron Kelley. In short order, the Freeman Foundation granted them $62,000 for a pilot run.

Journey East 2000 was an afterschool program designed to orient students to Asian culture in preparation for the arts exchange. In April 2000, a pioneer group of 22 L&G students traveled to China and Mongolia and performed an original musical and theatrical program over a two-week period. That fall, L&G welcomed students from the Mongolia College of Performing Arts to New England.

Thanks to a three-year grant extension, Journey East has evolved into a school within a school. …

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