Passport DC, a series of programs in May featuring Washington’s diplomatic community and its diverse culture, is returning for the first time since the pandemic began, allowing the public to visit over 50 embassies for the Around the World Embassy Tour on May 7 and immerse themselves in various cultures without leaving the city.
The free event lets embassies showcase their art, fashion, food, and goods to visitors. Attendees get the chance to see inside the embassies, talk to ambassadors, learn about other countries, and think about the world in a broader way.
“What’s more special about Washington than the fact that we have this magnificent robust influential largest diplomatic community in the world?” said Jan Du Plain, president and CEO of Du Plain Global Enterprises. “Passport DC’s Around the World Embassy Tour has put the rest of the country on alert that this is a unique event, and there is nothing like this, as far as we know, in any other capital in the world.”
Passport DC celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. It started as a citywide celebration of international cultural awareness with 24 embassies letting Washingtonians through its doors in 2008, and it has grown ever since. Over 50 embassies participated in 2019, with more than 40,000 people in attendance.
Indonesia, one of the event’s participants, has been opening its doors to the public from the very beginning. During the annual event, visitors walk into the Indonesian Embassy through its VIP entrance and experience the vast nation’s various cultures, enjoy cultural performances, taste local food, and engage in arts and crafts.
“Passport DC has been one of the embassy’s favorite programs,” said embassy spokeswoman Dian Permana. “It’s not only our chance to promote Indonesia, but it’s also the day when we share the wonderful Indonesia … our diaspora and our performers.”
Visitors can purchase a souvenir passport that they get rubber-stamped as they walk into various embassies, creating the experience of entering a country.
The goal of Passport DC is to bring people together, to focus on, treasure, and celebrate the similarities, and develop soft diplomacy ways that connect people. When you’ve broken bread with someone, when you know about their culture, when you’ve danced together, it changes everything,” says Du Plain.
Another goal is to promote tourism and make people aware of international travel opportunities.
“It’s different from what you’ll get from National Geographic,” said Steven E. Shulman, Cultural Tourism DC’s executive director. “It’s a personal one-on-one, I was there, I saw their tourism board presentations, I picked up their fliers, I saw the dancing, I heard the music, I want to go and experience that. Hopefully, we can convey those messages.”
Another major signature event of the Passport DC series is European Union Open House. On May 14, embassies of the European Union member states and the European Union delegation such as Belgium, Croatia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, and many others will welcome the public to showcase their culture.
In addition, on May 6-7, Passport DC will host the Flower Mart held at the Washington National Cathedral, followed by the Fiesta Asia street fair May 21.
For embassies that would like to participate in the Passport DC series, the number is (202) 355- 4280 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org