Stephanie Dragoi, '24
More than a year of navigating a pandemic that has transformed our routines, expectations, and even our sense of time has revealed those unexpectedly essential and meaningful aspects of our lives that we too often take for granted. High on the list of aspects of pre-pandemic life for which many have yearned for is travel. According to a study from Hilton, about 95 percent of Americans have missed traveling during the pandemic, and though many restrictions are being relaxed, it will be a while before travel, particularly overseas, is feasible for many Americans.
Though the experience of visiting a new country and being immersed in its culture cannot quite be replicated, residents of D.C. can certainly come close. As the capital of the nation, D.C. is home to 177 embassies of countries around the world. This year, on Saturday, October 16, many embassies around the city will host cultural activities and offer food and drinks as part of D.C.’s free annual Around the World Embassy Tour.
Passport D.C. events were first created thirteen years ago by the Cultural Tourism D.C. organization to celebrate the variety of multicultural experiences that converge in the city. Every year, over 70 embassies from 6 continents open their doors to the public to showcase what makes their country unique.
Whether you are interested in food, fashion, art, or history, the Embassy Tour offers something for everyone. In the past, activities have ranged from traditional dance performances to cheese samplings to sari wrapping lessons and more! Embassies also have fascinating information tables and detailed exhibits about their history, culture, and politics, as well as interactive workshops, demonstrations, and talks. Most participating embassies are located either on Embassy Row or International Drive, so you can park or Uber and spend a day exploring the world.
Satisfying a desire for travel is not the only reason events like the Embassy Tour are valuable. Experiencing other cultures brings greater global understanding, helps minimize stereotypes, and overcomes division. Americans are notoriously globally unaware—in a 2016 National Geographic study, a pool of American college-educated individuals aged 18-26 answered only 55% of questions on a global literacy survey correctly.
Cultural awareness is particularly important in a city like Washington, D.C., which is at the center of modern globalization. Though D.C. is full of beautiful and fascinating museums highlighting American history and culture, it is an international city. D.C. is the only US city that offers embassy open houses, so the Embassy Tour is truly a unique way to increase one’s understanding of the world and global affairs.
Delicious cuisine, captivating performances, fascinating demonstrations, and a more profound appreciation for international cultures await!