D.C.'s Coolest Volunteer Opportunity

D.C.'s Coolest Volunteer Opportunity

As part of the TWC internship experience, students are asked to contribute a few hours of service in the D.C. community. After a long search, I came across the National Cherry Blossom Festival and decided to apply to be a volunteer. I didn’t expect to have such a hands-on experience (or that I would get to be a balloon carrier in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade)!


When the festival first opened, I volunteered for four shifts as a stage assistant at the ANA performance stage. Performances were scheduled from noon to 6:00 p.m. that day, and I was in charge of taking performers to/from the parking lot and handing out flyers about the festival. This gave me a direct experience with multicultural performances from different parts of the world.


Image: ANA Performance Stage (courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival)


We started the afternoon with contemporary gospel singer/songwriter, Summer. This was followed by Halau Hula O Ke Anuenue Punahele, a traditional Hawaiian dance group. Also in the art of folk dance, we featured a Flamenco group called Furia Flamenca that practiced the traditional Spaniard folk dance. Finally, we had an Algerian folk rock band called Kamel Zennia Band and pop singers Shenna and Lahla-Hadiya.


A few weeks after that, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the National Cherry Blossom Festival again, this time on the crowd engagement team for the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. As I waited for instructions, I got to say hello to famous "Dancing with the Stars" judge, Carrie Ann Inaba. I know I know… pictures or it didn’t happen. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to snap a picture, so as old Rose from Titanic said: "She exists now only in my memory." Ha! Long story short, there was a balloon carrier shortage, so we got upgraded and got to walk the whole parade route with the MGM Lion.


Image: Carrying the MGM Lion balloon


It was a very interesting opportunity to celebrate diversity and culture heritage all throughout the festival and the parade. During my time volunteering, I got to meet people from all over the globe, explain the history of the cherry blossom trees in D.C. and share how they serve as a testament of the long and enduring relationship between the United States and Japan. That right there is cultural diplomacy in action.


Image: The Jefferson Memorial in the frame of a Cherry Blossom Tree.


This year's festival ended last week with a great fireworks display, but it will be back next year. Learn more about the National Cherry Blossom Festival and check out blogger Poonam’s account of her experience at the festival, too.


Until next week,

Read Daniel's previous blog posts

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