Fulbright Orientation in Washington DC
Day 2 of our Fulbright Orientation program has come and gone. Everyone from both the US and the participating countries arrived during the course of the day yesterday and settled in after a long day of travel for some. Sreeja and a couple of her Indian counterparts arrived late morning to the hotel and it was great to finally meet this person with whom I have been corresponding with regularly since March. Meeting her in person was more like connecting with a friend than meeting someone new for the first time. The internet has truly shrunken our world.
I took advantage of the free time yesterday be a tourist here in DC. I checked out a couple of places that aren't on the main tourist itinerary including the National Geographic Museum and the Ford Theatre where Mr. Lincoln saw his last show. I also had a chance to revisit the Natural History Museum - when I went back in May at the earlier orientation program, the place was overrun by hordes of student groups so it was much more enjoyable this time. I completed my grand walk by checking out the WWII memorial, Korean and Vietnam memorials, and Mr. Lincoln. It was a beautiful night for a walk.
Of all of the monuments in Washington that I have seen, the most powerful and moving one continues to be the Vietnam Memorial. It's power is in it's simplicity - there is no anonymity of who is being remembered here. The sheer multitude of names of the lost and the knowledge that most of them were teenagers or early 20's is emotionally powerful. The statue of the three soldiers remarkably captures the sense of futility that seemed to envelope many of the young men that found themselves in Vietnam. I've been three times now and it is just as powerful every time.
Today's highlight's included a very informative and entertaining presentation on adapting to new cultures in the morning and a bus tour of a few of the sights in DC including the Capitol, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials (again), and a stop at the White House. Before walking back to the hotel for the official opening dinner, one of the other teachers going to India and I enjoyed a couple of drinks on the rooftop terrace of the Washington Hotel with its fabulous view looking down on the National Mall, the White House, and other sights.
The program gets going in earnest tomorrow with a full day of sessions planned. The evening will be free so that we can go out to dinner with the other members of our country group if we want - plans are still to be made.