As part of an interview for a project for Georgetown University, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz provided the following thoughts about Passport D.C.’s Around the World Embassy Tour.
For starters, can you tell me a little about the diverse culture currently existing in Washington D.C.?
The culture of DC is mostly urban black, deriving from the South. Further, D.C. culture also reflects various other strains of American culture writ large, as we are e pluribus unum. D.C. hosts, on semi-permanent basis, a mass of people from everywhere in the U.S.: Hawaii, Texas, Alaska, etc. Granted, the haute culture tends to be liberal as it is the ersatz religion of the American elite at this point in history. But D.C. also attracts more than a sprinkling of conservatives, albeit usually of a big government kind. Add to it a bevy of foreign students and a contingent of foreign diplomats, and you’ll get quite a mix. In practice, alas, there is very little mixing between the Southern urban black D.C. and the rest, so the claims of multiculturalism are rather phony. I saw many more D.C. blacks at the Easter Egg Roll at the White House this year than at any embassy functions throughout the past year.
How is an event such as the Around the World Embassy Tour important in a multicultural environment like Washington D.C.?
I suppose a cynic will view it solely as a PR stunt. It is undeniably a permanent part of public diplomacy: to influence a people directly above the heads of their own government. However, it is also a nice opportunity for the D.C. locals to visit a foreign outpost and brush against its culture a bit.
How does such an event help raise awareness about diversity in The District?
I suppose it depends on an individual visitor. A curious person, kids in particular, will always learn something new about aliens, and it will hopefully make them think about themselves, too. The main lesson is that not everyone is like us. And lesson number two is that strangers can be kind.
What according to you should be the goal of the event?
The goal of the event for the visitor is to relax and have a good time. The goal of the event for the embassy hosts is to influence positively the guests to the greatest possible degree.