We had a very successful inbound exchange when 18 ambassadors from the Greater Izmir, Turkey club visited us May 18-25, 2016. Seventeen of the ambassadors were women; there were two mother-daughter combinations and also two sisters. All are working or retired professionals who showed great interest in all our activities and were good conversationalists. Although some of the ambassadors only spoke limited English, communication was aided by a group of Turkish students who are studying English here in DC and volunteered to act as interpreters.
We had several new activities in our program that proved highly popular.
Our welcome event was a picnic at Great Falls National Park in Virginia. Susan Gartner and Howard Bender coordinated a wonderful meal and the ambassadors enjoyed the spectacular scenery and walk through the park.
The picnic at Great Falls, followed by a tour of the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Center. Other highlights included a tour of the National Archives, the White House, Renwick Gallery, the Capitol, Library of Congress, the DC memorials, with an American style barbeque for the farewell dinner.
When we visited various Smithsonian museums on the mall, we ended the day at the Monday evening blues concert at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in nearby southwest DC. The ambassadors and hosts enjoyed a soul food dinner and we all got up and danced in the aisles to a great four-piece band.
At the farewell dinner, coordinated by Jack Richards and Kathryn Tatko, we had entertainment by a local “hand dance” group (think of the old Lindy hop; thank you Lydia Curtis for your recommendation) and by our visitors. One of our home hosts, Tom Chacko, was a dashing participant in their traditional Turkish dance.
Another notable addition was the fabulous program booklet that Mari Clarke and Ellen Wormser created. It was extremely useful during the week and is a very handsome keepsake. By coincidence, all nine home host families lived in DC or close-in Maryland, which simplified the transportation and shared-dinner logistics.