Representatives from the Eritrean Embassy greet guests. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)
Representatives from the Eritrean Embassy greet guests. (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) served as the venue for diplomats from various embassies who rarely get a chance to show off the food, art and other cultural aspects of their countries.

On Saturday, May 7, diplomats from countries including Libya, Uganda and Eritrea displayed a variety of items at the UDC Van Ness campus as part of the Around the World Embassy Tour. Additional diplomats along Embassy Row in Northwest and throughout the District also participated. 

“This is our 15th year of being involved in the Tour and my hope for Passport DC is to help remind everyone that we are more alike than different, despite the multitude of cultures and beliefs,” said Steve Shulman, executive director of Cultural Tourism DC. 

Diplomats at UDC set up tables filled with art, food and fashion. 

Meanwhile, Ronald Nnam, who works in IT at the Uganda Embassy, showed interested visitors a 30-foot replica of the “Peter the Great Battle Cruiser” which he built himself. 

 “I want people to learn to appreciate hard work and to have the ability to think out of the box and be creative – that was the purpose of creating this project,” he said. 

For many years, the 4200 block of Connecticut Avenue has served as a gathering place for vendors from around the world. Saturday’s event brought anxious residents of the District back after several years of canceled programs due to the pandemic. 

Unlike any other city in the U.S., Washington, D.C. has many different neighborhoods where embassies are located like the DuPont Circle area and along Massachusetts Avenue. 

Some visitors said they wanted to learn more about the political leanings of the countries and the colorful leaders who currently lead or who once led those nations including Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. 

But the tables manned by Libyan diplomats counted as one of the most popular for another reason – they served plates filled with lamb, beans, dates and couscous.

Participating embassies included: The African Union, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bolivia, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mexico, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Uganda.   

Shulman said the event has become more important than ever as nations around the world work to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and because of the current state of international affairs which remains so volatile. 

As she passed out samples of bread, Seble Tsehaye, political officer for the Eritrean Embassy, said, “There are a lot of people who don’t know anything about Eritrea. We are showing  a little bit about what our country is all about.” 

“At one time Eritrea and Ethiopia were enemies – now we work together,” she said. 

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