Tag: DC

:: holi good fun ::

One of the great things about being in the foreign service is being surrounded by people who share an interest in experiencing cultures. Well two of my classmates put together a Holi party yesterday in Meriden Hill Park in the District. Basically Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrating the blossoming of new growth after the winter – though there are also religious connotations as well.

The tradition is to throw coloured powder and water at one another! Everyone is meant to wear white and run around throwing the bags of powder and water balloons at everyone else. A group of thirty or so of us gathered in a public place and then proceeded to go crazy! There were a lot of bemused bystanders, but we all had a blast! In the end it looked like a paint factory exploded!

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We then partook in some traditional Indian line dancing, which involved short wooden sticks that we had personally decorated earlier. It was two parallel lines with the people standing opposite hitting the sticks together and then moving down to do it again with the next person. Of course the more flamboyantly you could move – think turns, jigs, twists, etc – the better! Afterwards we had some Indian sweets and general picnic offerings.

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Perhaps the most interesting part of the day was walking from the park to the bar. To say we got intriguing looks and comments from passersby would be an understatement! Of course I hadn’t really seen what I looked like until I saw the mirror at the bar – I completely understand why people responded like that!

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It was a great day out – especially as it was the first truly warm day of spring. Sun, warmth, good friends and coloured powder – not much more you could ask for!Image

:: kites, blossoms and easter bunnies ::

Taking advantage of the four day Easter weekend in the UK I decided to come to DC for a few days to spend some time with CW.  Although he’s had to be in training we had a lovely couple of days over the weekend and several nice evenings together.  Without this visit we would have gone a few months before seeing each other which was just too long for either of us to bear.

It was a great weekend to be back as there has been loads going on.  The warmth and sun are finally trying to make an appearance here so it’s a really nice change from London which has been really cold lately.  It’s a great feeling to be able to have the windows open and not have to bundle up in a million layers.

Saturday we decided to meet up with Krissy and her friend in DC for the annual spring blossom festival.  Washington DC is known for its cherry blossoms around this time of year which bring thousands of visitors every year, similar to the foliage changing in New England.  Not only are the blossoms meant to be spectacular in their own right, but their location along the tidal pool near the monuments make them all the more special.

Unfortunately this year the sun and warmth hasn’t come early enough, so although the blossoms were forecast to peak this weekend, they are still feeling a bit shy and probably won’t make their appearance for another few days.  Nevertheless we had a lovely walk down to the new Martin Luther King Jr monument and a great view across the water to the Jefferson Memorial.

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In the meantime we were distracted by another great event happening this weekend, the annual Blossom Kite Festival.  As we approached the mall there were not only hundreds of people who had come out to enjoy the sunshine, but it felt like almost all of them were flying kites.  The festival involves different components, one of them being the public field on the mall where people can bring their own kite and fly it.  It was quite a spectacle looking up the mall towards the Capitol and seeing so many colours and ribbons, creating quite a unique site!

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In addition to the public field there were other events including a Rokkaku Battle.  This Japanese tradition involves hexagonal-shaped fighter kites that compete against each other to stay up the longest.  Each kite flier runs around the field trying to ‘cut’ the other kites down using different tactics and the one who survives is the winner.  If you have ever read the wonderful book ‘The Kite Runner’ it’s a bit like this, though more closely managed and without the runners.

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After the kite and almost blossoming cherry festival, we had a lovely drink and meal at the Elephant & Castle pub outside – a great way to finish a lovely day out!

Easter Sunday we had a relaxing day together doing a lot of admin getting ready for my move to DC and other things, and now sadly it’s time to leave for another few weeks of long distance.  A few more weeks of work and then I’m finished which is really hard to believe and also quite sad for me but all good things must come to an end!  At least this one leads us to a great adventure!

As it stands I’ll be back in DC again on 1 May so stay tuned for more news from us…

:: seeking global adventures ::

After years of attempts and more recently months of waiting, CW has joined the US Foreign Service!  We are so excited about this new career, and lifestyle, and the amazing global adventures this will bring!  To celebrate this new chapter in our lives we thought it would be fun to create a new blog dedicated to the unique fabulous, challenging, interesting, diverse, crazy and happy experiences we will have as part of this new life!

Getting into the Foreign Service has been an arduous process involving a written exam, some personal narrative essays, an all day oral assessment and then months of waiting for security and medical clearances. Following all that we then had to wait a few months before an orientation training class was formed and CW was called into it.  Fifteen months after he sat in the London embassy for the written exam, he walked into the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. and swore the oath of office joining the State Department and becoming a Foreign Service Officer.

As part of this new role we will be sent to a new posting at one of the 275 embassies and consulates around the world around two or three years. There is the prospect of posts in DC as well, but the vast majority of our time in the Foreign Service will be spent out in the world and we are absolutely thrilled about that!

CW will be an officer in the management cone which means that he will be responsible for various operational elements of the missions overseas, though he will also have opportunities to serve in other capacities, including working on visa lines and directly helping American citizens who are either travelling or living in these foreign countries.

Cora is excited about the prospects for taking her excellent intercultural training and competence skills and applying them in new locations, as well as looking to expand our photography activities and maybe do other things in the local communities, such as volunteer or work at the embassy. There is a lot of uncertainty, especially without knowing where we are heading to, but we are confident it will all be for the good.

So, there you have it. We are off on new adventures to places unknown! We are extremely excited by the prospects of this new journey. The chances we will have to explore new countries, experience disparate cultures and interact with lots of interesting people are going to be too numerous to count.

Welcome to our new reality and hope you appreciate reading about our new global adventures!