Opportunity for UCLA Students, Faculty &, Staff to join the “Silk Road to the Future”
Since 2001 UCLA students, faculty and staff and their family and friends have embarked on a journey of goodwill and friendship to China. Designated as “Peace Ambassadors,” these participants join others from campuses throughout the UC system on a transformative trip to China to meet their Chinese counterparts, through a special program called the “Silk Road to the Future”. The Silk Road historically is a trade route that connected China with Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe and allowed for the global exchange of goods. Just like its historical reference, the UCLA Silk Road trip seeks to symbolically connect, develop intercultural relationships and promote cultural exchange between the U.S. and China within higher education.
The non-profit organization the Legends of China (LOC), founded by a UCLA international alum, has organized the “Silk Road to the Future” trip to cultivate cross-cultural understanding between the U.S. and China. LOC works with all of the UC campuses’ Student Affairs divisions to recruit students, faculty and staff “peace ambassadors” who are interested in taking part in the trip. The Silk Road to the Future trip has also received support from the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, whose Board of Directors have provided funds for student scholarships for the past 3 years.
The Silk Road to the Future trip is an all-inclusive travel and exchange experience, offering a number of different trips ranging from one week in Beijing, to twelve days in 5 cities across China. Participants of the trip enjoy four-star hotel accommodations and restaurants, and are escorted to historical landmarks by professional guides and Chinese student volunteers. In addition to tourism in China, the Silk Road to the Future hosts an educational exchange forum. During the Forum, American Peace Ambassadors visit a Chinese University and engage in a roundtable discussion with Chinese students, staff and faculty. The forum culminates with the Silk Banner Ceremony, where silk banners representing world peace, created by American and Chinese participants, are judged for originality. Silk pieces collected from all trips taking place between 2001 and 2008 were sewn together to create a 10,000 meter banner that was displayed at a 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Exhibition. Since 2008, the Legends of China Foundation has set a new goal of joining 40,076 silk pieces that will match the distance around the Earth’s equator (40,076 kilometers).
The Silk Road to the Future is more than just a guided tour of China; the most unique aspect of the trip is the opportunity it creates for students and university affiliates, both Chinese and American, to inquire about each other’s lifestyle, culture and interests. The Silk Road to the Future trip provides a thoughtful balance of education about Chinese history, through visits to sites like the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, and the opportunity to learn about contemporary culture and the future, through dialogue with our Chinese counterparts, which was equally, if not more insightful.
For more information about this incredible program, please visit http://www.silkroad.ucla.edu.
Source: By Susan Oh, Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars
(information updated from a Fall 2005 “SA Today” article by Melissa Veluz-Abraham)