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Students From Chicago, Kabul Exchange Music Ahead Of NATO Summit

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Music Students

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was present Thursday as students from Kelly High School on the Southwest Side exchanged musical performances with students from Afghanistan. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — As part of the activities leading up to the NATO Summit next month, some Chicago high school students traded performances and questions with music students from Afghanistan in a live, electronic hook-up.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Edward Burke (14th) were present Thursday as the band from Thomas Kelly High School, 4136 S. California Ave., shared an electronic stage and some quality time with music students from Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

The sound from Kabul wasn’t the best, but Sitar music from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music filled the studio at Kelly High School, and the band at Kelly reciprocated, playing “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” and other classics.

There were also questions back and forth. A Kelly student wondered about the Afghan Culture, and a question from Kabul was about how many hours a day the Kelly students practice. The answer is two hours on their own, and more when they’re together.

Kelly senior Bianca Avina loved the experience.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to see each other’s instruments, hear each other’s music, and I don’t know, just to learn more about each other,” Avina said, “because I didn’t know what they were playing, and I was like: ‘Wow, that sounds nice. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds great.’”

There was also a lesson in gender equality along the way. Through a translator, a female student from Kabul named Idina asked how hard it is for girls to study music in the U.S.

Girls only recently have been allowed to study music in Afghanistan.

That information shocked Avina, 18, who says she has always had music in her life. She wondered aloud about how hard it must be for the girls.

But thoughtfully, she also imagined that they must feel even more triumphant when they do play.

Both orchestras that played Thursday are co-ed, but in Kabul, that’s very unusual.

Mayor Emanuel says Chicago students will have other experiences built around the NATO Summit.

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