Embassies to Open Doors for Passport DC Events

Posted February 27, 2008 at 5:21pm

A nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting arts and culture in the District is organizing an event this spring that will let Washingtonians experience other parts of the world without leaving the city.

The citywide Passport DC initiative, which will last from May 3 to 17, will celebrate Washington’s embassies and international culture. All of the embassies that have signed up to participate will host open houses.

Courtney MacGregor, a spokeswoman for Cultural Tourism DC, which is coordinating the event, said the first week would highlight the embassies of the European Union. Next will come “Around the World Week,” showcasing embassies from the remaining continents. She added that this is the first program of its kind.

MacGregor said that so far, 50 out of Washington’s180 embassies have joined, but more keep signing up every day. Out of the 50, 27 are European. She said she expects 70 embassies to participate. Although the deadline for embassies to turn in their program plans is this week, MacGregor said Cultural Tourism DC probably would accept additions for up to two more weeks.

The embassies will offer programs during the day including tours, art exhibits and film screenings.

For example, MacGregor said, the Korean Embassy will have martial arts demonstrations, including tae kwon do. Embassy officials also will show a film and give a tour of their museum, which is filled with traditional Korean musical instruments and artifacts.

Embassies with space or security issues may co-host programs and activities with other embassies, MacGregor said.

Marcelo Cima, minister of the Embassy of Argentina, said he was blown away by the turnout for an open house with the European Union’s embassies last year.

“It was really surprising to me to see so many people standing in line just to get into the embassies,” Cima said.

After witnessing the enthusiasm of the crowds, he said he jumped at the chance to participate in Passport DC.

“Right away, I said yes,” Cima said.

Cima said his embassy is focusing its activities on the tango. The embassy will show a movie about the dance and follow up with lessons. It also will host two musical events with a tango theme.

“Tango is a brand name for Argentina, but some people do not know it,” Cima said.

He added that he hopes all the other Latin American embassies get involved and eventually band together to host an open house event of their own. Cima said he is excited to introduce visitors to Argentina’s culture.

Similarly, MacGregor said the event is all about bringing people out to the embassies.

“A lot of people know about the embassies, but they wonder, ‘Can I go in? Do I need a ticket?’” MacGregor said. “We want them to come around and realize that the embassies offer programming year-round. We want to open the doors of the embassies to them.”

Passport DC will be held May 3-17. For more information on participating embassies, programs and pricing, visit culturaltourismdc.org.