Learning through travel

Do you ever wish you could take the kids on a journey from China to the Mediterranean? The Silk Road Chicago Project-a citywide celebration inspired by the art and culture of the historic Silk Road-lets you do just that.

Beginning last summer with concerts and exhibitions, the project continues this year with the Express Passport, which aims to involve children in the cultural experience. The passport offers an interactive way to travel along the historic route of the Silk Road by visiting exhibits at various locations including The Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Kids ages 6-12 can collect stamps as they learn about the art and culture of the Silk Road by completing activities at each of five passport locations.

Chicago was the obvious choice to host the Silk Road Project, says Laura Freid, CEO and director of the Silk Road Project."[Chicago] has a unique population of people from all over the world and that’s exactly what the Silk Road project is about.”

Once kids complete five tasks around the city, they can mail in the passport postcard to share their experiences. Five participants per edition of the Passport will be randomly selected to win four tickets to the April 21 Family Concert at the Symphony Center featuring Yo-Yo Ma-the Silk Road Project’s founder.

The Express Passport also helps expose children to the vibrant cultures of their own city, Freid says."We hope [kids] feel a little bit of the excitement of traveling the Silk Road and we hope they begin to dream about traveling to new places and experiencing new cultures,” she says."And, more importantly, we hope that it will encourage parents to take their children to one of the many library branches that are distributing the passport.”

You can download the passport at www.silkroadchicago.org/passport or pick one up at Chicago Public Library branches or one of the five participating sites. The second edition of the Passport will be available on Feb. 21 and will feature new activities at the same five sites, as well as the Dusable Museum of African-American History. Admission varies by location, but The Art Institute of Chicago is always free for children under 12 and the Chicago Children’s Museum is free for the whole family on Thursday nights from 5-8 p.m.

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