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Recap: Festival Participant Arrival

Peace Corps participant assistant Meredith Adhikari greets Issa Téssougué a tailor from Sévaré, Mali.

The first week of the Festival was great! We have had two days off to catch our breath, and we are preparing to jump into week two.

The Festival Participant Staff is the tireless team working non-stop to bring the participants here to D.C.; making their travel arrangements, orienting them to their new surroundings, and assisting them with their schedules and in-town transit.

Last week, Colombia participant assistant Diana Bossa Bastidas documented participant arrivals from sixteen different countries. She finally had a moment to put together this gallery and send us snippets of the staff’s sentiments on the long-awaited participant arrivals.

Meredith Adhikari, Peace Corps participant assistant: “I’m really relieved everyone got here safely. It was such a long journey for many of them. It’s so satisfying to see everyone teaching and learning at this very special event.”

Diana Bossa Bastidas, Colombia participant assistant: “The tiredness disappeared as soon as the peak hours of arrival began. The last group of participants arrived shortly after 4 a.m. and after waking up from a short nap, I was working on adrenaline.”

Anna Kaplan, R&B participant assistant: “It was exciting. I am able to finally put faces to the names and voices with whom I’ve been communicating for months. I’m laughing a lot, too, because the R&B participants are HILARIOUS!”

Jeannette Lara, hotel coordinator: “Months, weeks, days, finally coming together. When our first group arrived from Ghana it was surreal. Their upbeat nature showed that they were just as excited. Finally they were here!”

Laura Smith, participant coordinator: “The arrival of participants from their respective countries is one of the most poignant moments of the Festival. Participant staff members are frequently among the first individuals that participants meet when they get to Washington, D.C. It’s truly an honor to welcome them to the Smithsonian.”

Click on images to enlarge and see captions.

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