I hope to attend more of the upcoming events (and will, hopefully, get time to share some of the impressions here, too), but here are some thoughts on last Saturday.
Map of participants in the "Around the World Embassy Tour". From 2011 Passport DC Map.
And yet, I'm afraid, even within Europe - which tends to be seen as having "mastered" the art of public diplomacy quite well - this potential was not harnessed to its best. But then, I just made it to three EU embassies...
The line was huge. Took an hour to get in. Still, those waiting under the sun could watch some live tap dancing by local students and go through some tourism magazines which the Embassy was generously giving out.
"Gastrodiplomacy" - best route to the hearts and minds?
Another one with a huge line. There were some folk dancers in front of the building, but we just got to watch them from across the street, while waiting to get in to Ireland. I'm not quite sure if the dancers ever got back from their "break".
Seems there wasn't much to be impressed with...
Gorgeous views from the rooftop of the Sweden House
In case you want to hear more about the details
"Table Hockey" seemed to be the highlight of the day :)
Yet, I admit, it would also make the job of smaller countries, who plan on keeping the Open House small too, much more difficult. For example, limiting the description to "Come visit the Embassy of Luxembourg for the day!" will not generate much interest, especially if compared to others who promised cultural events and wine samples.
That was just the beginning, though. Many others will be hosting visitors and/or organizing cultural events throughout the month, so make sure to check out the schedule if you're in town. My personal recommendations include:
- Around the World Embassy Tour on Saturday, May 14 (would love to see Egypt, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Venezuela... and perhaps Bahrain, but that should rather take the form of a protest).
- 2011 Eurovision Final viewing party at the Goethe-Institut (since Germany is hosting the event this year) on Saturday, May 14. (Will be sharing more thoughts on Eurovision itself later this week...)
- Fiesta Asia Street Fair on Saturday, May 21.
- Also, the awesome "World Jazz" series at the Twins Jazz club.
And just to close, it's a shame Armenia is not doing anything this month. I'm sure they could have afforded to spend a tiny part of their annual budget on a one-day event. Or perhaps even cooperate with the local diasporan community... So where are the patriots now?