The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center has been buzzing with celebrations of culture. On Dec. 7, over 3,000 visitors filled the Atrium at the fifth Winternational Embassy Showcase.
Held annually at the Reagan Building, the one-of-a-kind event brings together the international community and the D.C. community, allowing guests to interact with ambassadors and diplomats to learn about different cultures and traditions from around the world. This year’s Winternational drew in a record crowd and participation from 37 embassies. Last year, more than 2,500 guests and 34 embassies participated in this vibrant annual midday celebration, which is free and open to the public.
According to John Drew, president and CEO of Trade Center Management Associates (TCMA), the group that manages the Reagan Building, the event has come a long way in five years.
“This is a far different event than when we started five years ago with five embassies and had 200 people in attendance. There’s nothing else going on in D.C. like this. This is a cultural showcase where people from Europe, Africa and the Middle East are all talking about what’s going on in their countries. And participants have an opportunity to mix and mingle with ambassadors and diplomats to learn about different cultures and traditions.”
To start off the day’s program, Andrew Gelfuso, vice president of TCMA, made opening remarks thanking each participating embassy as well as visitors for taking part in the signature event; ambassadors and officials from each embassy were invited on stage for recognition, officially kicking off the day’s festivities. Gelfuso highlighted that “one of the goals of Winternational is to bring together people from different cultures. When there is a better understanding of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, it’s a lot easier to do business, which in turn is good for the global economy, commerce and tourism.”
Throughout the event, embassies showcased important aspects of their cultures through vibrant and colorful display booths. Guests had the opportunity to interact with each embassy through art, handmade crafts, food samples, traditional dress, travel and tourism information and more — all set against the backdrop of worldly music from renowned violinist Rafael Javadov. Some of the activities and goods on display included rugs from Afghanistan, a henna station at Bangladesh, scarves from the Kyrgyz Republic, pearls from the Philippines, woven baskets from Rwanda and coffee from Panama.
Participating embassies included: Afghanistan, the African Union Mission, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Botswana, Costa Rica, Egypt, the European Union Delegation, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mozambique, Nepal, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
The event was developed by TCMA, the exclusive manager of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. TCMA provides a central platform for building connections, fostering diplomacy and advancing international commerce by offering a rich mix of signature events such as high-profile economic summits, conferences, cultural programs and business matching-making seminars. TCMA has established the Reagan Building as D.C.’s premier venue for hosting influential conferences and events and a powerful forum for international trade promotion in the heart of the nation’s capital.