Even if you don’t have the funds to jump on a plane bound for Russia, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a plate of quality Beef Stroganoff or a set of nesting dolls. Beginning on January 20 and continuing for five Sundays until April 27, St. Paul’s Landmark Center will present Urban Expedition 2008—now in its fourth year. A chance to have fun and learn about the many countries in our world, Urban Expedition allows families to enjoy world food, music, dance and culture without crossing the Minnesota border.
Russia is first on the list, with Ethiopia, Guatemala, Great Britain and Thailand to follow. Last year, over two thousand children and their families visited the five expeditions, and the organizers of this year’s event hope to draw an even larger crowd. “The Sundays program [at the Landmark Center] fosters community within St. Paul,” says Program and Marketing Manager Dina Vaynerman, who helped coordinate Urban Expedition. “We hope [people] come away with a better understanding of these cultures and that you don’t have to go far to see these different cultures.”
The Urban Expedition series is sponsored by Minnesota Parent Magazine. Families are asked to bring a can of food to donate to one of the event’s other collaborators, Neighborhood House. The Sunday expeditions are free and open to the public, and run from 1 to 3 p.m. Following Russia on January 20, the event schedule includes Ethiopia on February 3, Guatemala on March 2, Great Britain on April 13 and Thailand on April 27. See the Urban Expedition Web site or call (651) 292-3233 for more information.
Each visitor to the Urban Expedition’s Russia tour is given a personalized passport with spots for pictures and stamps inside. Families can move around the Landmark’s Musser Cortile First Floor Atrium to soak up the Russian experience. In addition to Landmark volunteers, several local organizations will be in attendance at the event to offer their services. The Russian Cultural Center’s Russian Soul will teach traditional folk dancing from various regions of Russia, while the Museum of Russian Art and other organizations to be announced will have staff poised to sell crafts, play games, and showcase artwork. Families can also sample food from area vendors, who plan to bring some regional delights to the event.
“You’ll have a good understanding about the culture and country when you leave,” says Vaynerman, “and food and crafts to take home.”
Colette Davidson is a freelance writer in Minneapolis. She is Associate Editor of the Uptown Neighborhood News.