By Maristela Romero
A continuous throng of people passed through Dupont Circle as they milled around the surrounding area to explore food, cultural displays and musical performances held by participating embassies.
The All Around the World Embassy tour began at 10 a.m. and continued into the afternoon. It is one of several events in the month-long Passport DC celebration which caters to D.C. tourists interested in exploring international cultures.
For six hours, tourists had the chance to visit 53 embassies between Dupont Circle and Van Ness Metro stations. Long lines formed outside each embassy with visitors eager to experience a taste of their cultures.
The Indonesian embassy, situated nearest to the Dupont Circle Metro station and event information booth, had one of the longest lines.
A couple Indonesian food trucks enticed visitors with meat skewers, lumpia spring rolls and vegetarian Balado among many other options.
The displays inside the embassy itself were few but interesting.
One of the displays was a long dragon-like costume called a barong similar to the Chinese dragons seen in Chinese New Year festival performances.
The barong is worn by dancers during traditional festivals in Bali, Indonesia.
“It’s a lion character. The barong represents good things so usually when they dance with it the barong fights against the evil,” said John S., an Indonesian embassy staff member.
In the embassy’s main courtyard, they held a traditional dance performance followed by a musical show with instruments that resembled wooden xylophones.
The staff ended the tour on a sweet note as they handed out popular Indonesian snacks and drinks like Kopiko coffee candy and tea.
The next stop was the Republic of South Korea, which drew in a flock of visitors with their comedic sketches and traditional drum performances that could be heard a block away.
The crowd did not disperse despite the steady rain that had settled during one of their comedy sketches. Many were amused by the eager performers who incorporated brave volunteers into their skit which facilitated a welcoming feeling among the tourists.
William Fu, a Passport DC volunteer, expressed his enjoyment at the event as someone who has gone around Embassy Row in years past.
“I decided to volunteer here because it’s one of the biggest events that we have in D.C. this time of year,” Fu said. “You get to go out, you get to help out and you get to meet new people while experiencing different cultures.”
Tourists at the South Korea embassy also had the chance to have their names written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet.
The final stop of my three-legged tour of Asia was the Japanese embassy which had a long line that rivaled that of the Indonesian embassy.
Once inside, tourists were met with photos of cherry blossoms as they were led into a room displaying potted plants and, surprisingly, information booths of their flagship airline, All Nippon Airways, among other travel amenities they offer.
Their exhibit was more of an advertisement for tourism in Japan, which included a row of booths with staff members handing out pamphlets showcasing popular prefectures like Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Sakai.
Similar to the other embassies, the tour ended with a sample of common Japanese food staples like chicken teriyaki and cold brew tea.
A visitor at the Japanese embassy, who was a first-time attendee, decided to partake in the tour for a school photography assignment on Japan.
“Even though I’m coming to do my project, I really like Japanese culture and I really enjoy this event,” Weilin Jung said. “I’ve lived in this area for three years but it’s my first time coming to this passport event, so I was kind of surprised that there are so many people and so many embassies participating.”
Unfortunately, for the fresh horde of tourists hoping to see the Japanese embassy, they were turned away as the event drew to a close.
The open house embassy tour will be followed by the next event lined up for Passport DC, the EU Open House on May 12.
Featured Photo Credit: Barong costume and Indonesian traditional dancers. (Masrur Ashraf/Flickr)
Maristela Romero is a freshman journalism and public health science major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.