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All Roads Lead to DC!!!

My people, by now you know that the Association of FGCE Alumni, Americas (AFGCEAA)  is having its second annual reunion in Washington, D.C. from August 6-9, 2015. The event follows up on our successful inaugural reunion in Atlanta last year. Much respect to our Atlanta alumni and others involved; they did a fantastic job and established a very high bar for future events:

If you are like me, you left Atlanta wondering “When are we going to do it again, and how do we top THAT???” Glad you asked.

Very early in the planning phase – and per popular vote – the decision was made to hold a follow-up event in 2015, and in the Greater Washington DC area (popularly called the “DMV,” for DC, Maryland, and Virginia). After scouting any number of potential locations, the Executive Council and the Board of Directors decided to hold the event in downtown Washington DC, at the Capital Hilton. Personally, I couldn’t be happier. My connection to DC is deep: it’s where my siblings and I were born; where I attended graduate school; and where I met my wife (courtesy of the now-defunct Izora Restaurant). In short, I be original DC ama ala. As such, it pains me sometimes that when we talk about the DMV, we tend to focus on the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, leaving DC proper out of the equation. And that’s a shame, because the District has so much to offer. Let me provide a few examples:

1. Culture: If you are Enugu Old School, you know that cultural tinz were a little hard to come by. In fact, the one thing we clung to – our zoo – has been turned into an estate! But DC has no such problem; it’s a cornucopia of cultural enrichment. I love visiting the Smithsonian which, with 19(!) separate museums, is the world’s largest museum and research complex. During the reunion, the Museum of African Art will be exhibiting the collection of the official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin. How’s that for a happy coincidence? A close second is the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. There is always something to do, and the view of DC from the balcony is breathtaking.

The-Smithsonian-museums

2. Nightlife: Whether you are into nightclubs, bars, restaurants, or (my personal favorite) lounges, DC has something for you. I highly recommend checking out the scene at 14th and U, where a new nightspot seemingly opens up every weekend. Our Presido is already on record that Patty Boom Boom is his favorite place to party in DC. Meanwhile, I hear the nightlife on H Street NE gives U Street a run for its money. I intend to research that personally come August.

HstNEDC

3. Historical Significance: DC is not the birthplace of American democracy; that honor belongs to Philadelphia. However, it IS the place created by the U.S. Constitution to fulfill the vision of the nation’s founders. Dotted in and around DC are powerful testimonials to the birthing pains of the nation, and its evolution towards a more perfect union. Please take the time to visit some of these places, particularly the monuments. My personal favorite is the Lincoln Memorial; there’s just something powerful about reading the words of the Emancipation Proclamation while his statue overlooks you. When you visit, make sure to stand on the steps and look over the reflecting pool, past the Washington Monument to the Capitol Building: You will be standing in the very same spot where MLK delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Speaking of whom, the MLK Memorial is also quite moving, as is FDR’s. (By the way, for the runners among you, the early morning jog around the monuments and over the 14th Street Bridge and back is one of the best in the world.)

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fdrmemorial

4. Shopping: Some of you have read thus far and are not impressed. You don’t go to nightclubs, you don’t do museums, and you certainly don’t intend to visit monuments if you can help it. You like to shop though, right? (It’s okay to admit it – Nigerians are hardwired to shop.) DC’s shopping scene is on fire. The traditional standbys, Georgetown and Upper Wisconsin Avenue, are still there, but I’m more excited about the new kid on the block, City Center DC in Penn Quarter. For a quick overview of shopping options in the DC area, see here

5. Worship: Last but certainly not least is the issue of spiritual nourishment. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is about a five-minute walk from the Capital Hilton. It’s a very beautiful church, and the site of the annual Red Mass marking the opening of the Supreme Court’s term. For a non-denominational alternative, the Washington National Cathedral is three miles north of the hotel. It’s also a very beautiful place to worship.

stmatthews

In short, DC is a world-class city, ranked the No. 1 travel destination for 2015 by Lonely Planet

We decided to host this event in DC because a world-class organization such as ours deserves no less. Yes, we know you cannot possibly take in all DC has to offer in a single weekend, especially with a packed reunion agenda. But we want you to have options for your downtime, and to make this a special mini-vacation that you and your loved ones will treasure for years to come. Many of the places I’ve mentioned are but a hop, skip and a jump from the Capital Hilton, making it a very central location for just about anything you want to do. Our own Madam PRO, Nora Agajelu, will be posting more fun details in the weeks and months to come. So keep your eyes peeled.

See you in August!

 

Jude Chidi Ogene, Class of 1985.