Last year, I was fortunate to be one of the three participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project titled, “ Writing for Social Change,” for Uganda that took place from December 2 to 10, 2019.
The other two participants for the program were Hilda Jacqueline Twongyeirwe, the executive director, Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE) and Regina Asinde, the managing director, Wordsmith Publications Uganda Ltd.
We got the opportunity to visit a few cities and states within the United States including Sacramento in California, Iowa City, and, Washington DC.
The purpose of our visit was to interact with women authors and publishers to discuss best practices in composing, editing and publishing various form of literature. In addition, we were to explore gender equality issues in the United States (US) as well as examine the purpose of writing to raise awareness of social issues as well as promote accountability and transparency in society.
But also most importantly, it was a chance to have a better more understanding of the US in terms of the culture and history.
We were in Sacramento from December 1st to 4th. Then, in Iowa City from 4th to 7th and finally in Washington from 7th to 11th.
If you are the kind of person who loves visiting calm and quiet places, I would definitely recommend Iowa City. The time I was there, I noticed a kind of tranquility within the city and hardly any traffic. Individuals went about their daily lives without much commotion.
I really did enjoyed my stay in Washington DC probably because of the sighting tour we had on December 8. One of the interesting places we were taken to see was the White House. Of course we didn’t go inside but rather, a guide took us to see the exterior part of the White House. We didn’t get so close though. The White House is transparently fenced meaning visitors can only see it from a little afar. And the security is tight. However, at a little distance, you can take a number of pictures with the white house serving as your background.
Besides the White House, we also got the chance to visit the Lincoln Memorial which was built in honour of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. And, while here, we took a number of pictures. Lots of them. It was also interesting to see the Washington Monument which is across the Lincoln memorial. Previously, I had seen the Monument many times in American movies, so, seeing it physically was a surreal moment for me.
It was also interesting to visit the Library of Congress, the de facto national library of the US and the largest in the world. We also made time to pass by the United States Capitol, the meeting chambers of the House of Representatives. Since we were visiting the country during the festive season, we found a large decorated Christmas tree erected in front of the Capitol building.
Not forgetting, I enjoyed window shopping and the visits to different malls in Washington DC. Since it was the festive season, there were a variety of items and products on sale including gifts. It was the perfect opportunity to pick one or two presents for loved ones.
The only downside of the visit was the weather. Gosh! It was cold. Even on days the sun was shining brightly, you would still feel the coldness pitching parts of your body, especially the ears and fingers.
Other than that, everything else went on well. This first time visit to the US was definitely a memorable experience.
Activities to do in Washington
Go see the White House
Many people living outside the United States will tell you that they have only seen the White in either pictures or television. But you ever get the opportunity to visit Washington DC, go see the White House. Although you will definitely not be allowed inside the premises, you will get the chance to see the outside part of the White House. And, you can take lots of pictures with the House serving as your background. Also, try and ask around for a peaceful protester by the name Philipos Melaku-Bello who sits outside the White House with signs.
Visit the Library of Congress
In case you are a huge fan of books and history, ensure that you visit the Library of Congress on your next visit. That are many other things that will interest you here besides books. There are maps, recordings, impressive interior architecture and design, among other things. During my visit to the library last year, I was impressed with the Rosa Parks section that is displayed with some of her personal items including letters, photographs, and video recordings. Parks was a famous civil rights activist who refused to give her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in 1955. Besides the Parks section, there are more you will love though including a gift shop where you will find some amazing gifts to buy. Entrance to the library is free of charge.
The Lincoln Memorial
Located across the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial was built in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Inside the Memorial, you will find Lincoln’s statue and inscriptions of Lincoln’s second inaugural address as well as Gettysburg address. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. While you are here, utilise the visit to take as many pictures as you can. Since the site tends to attract all kinds of visitors from all over the world, don’t be surprised then when you find it a bit crowded. Not forgetting, the memorial will also give you a chance to see the Washington Monument which is across the Lincoln Memorial. The Monument will also give the perfect background for taking pictures.