By Jim Callicott
The University of Tennessee has far reaching arms when it comes to attracting students. Some areas of attraction have unusual names and locations; for example, Grosse Ile, Michigan.
Grosse Ile is located in the middle of the Detroit River with a population of about 10,000 people, plus a few dogs and cats. Other than a small airport, the only way on or off the island is the toll bridge or the free bridge.
When Geoff Krempa crossed the bridge heading south to Knoxville and UT, Brooke Stevenson was right behind him. The couple have been residents of the area about a year now and love the difference between an island and the Smoky Mountains.
Krempa is enrolled at UT working on his PhD in History and Stevenson has worked her way up from staff reporter to assistant editor at the Seymour Herald. An English major in college with a minor in Journalism, she has used both fields of study to become a valuable asset to the Herald.
“With work and Geoff’s study load, our schedules don’t often match up,” said Stevenson. “I read weekly about Cirque de Chine in Sevierville and how everyone marvels at the performance.
“Geoff and I had a free evening last week and decided to see for ourselves.”
Li Jie also comes from a place with a strange sounding name where Americans are concerned, Wu Qiao City in Hebei Province in China. Wu Qiao is a small town also but it is located in the same province as Beijing, the capital of China.
Li Jie has been an acrobat for the past 19 years. He is also an actor and the assistant troupe leader for the group at Cirque de Chine. Since arriving in America, he earned a new title; van driver.
“It is easier to drive in America than in China,” he said. “In China there is much traffic but you have to watch for the pedestrians.
“They cross the street anytime, anywhere and if you hit one, you are in big trouble.”
Li Jie’s performs in the Human Strength and Pole Toss acts. However, he has been an acrobat for so many years and performed so many different acts; he can fill in other rolls in case of an injury or illness to another acrobat.
He became interested in acrobats when a new school opened in his home town. Over 2,000 prospective students applied for admission and only 50 were accepted, including Le Jie. He soon discovered acrobat school is very strict.
Now, as the assistant troupe leader, part of his duties is to train the younger acrobats. The youngsters spend 4 hours everyday training for new acts.
He and his trainees run everyday and do a minimum of 200 push ups daily. Acrobats have 2,000 acts that they can perform so training in a never ending process.
In addition to training, Li Jie also functions as a guardian for the younger kids. He takes great pride and pleasure in training the younger members which reflects his personal physiology; “If you help others, you will have happiness in return.” Li Jie should be a very happy man.
Hard work produces rewarding assets
By Jim Callicott