A day so big it gets its own entry!
17.10.2007 - 17.10.2007 23 °C
Wednesday: Crazy. I dont think I stopped sweating all day (gross!) I got to work early to try and get things in order before everyone else got there and it got more hectic. Unfortunately the mail machine and I got in a fight and by the time I was able to coax out the postage label I was running late for my first Congressional Briefing. Somehow I managed to bust through the doors of the Rayburn House Office Building #2255 just in time to catch the opening statements.
The briefing, addressing the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, was being delivered by one of our staffers as well as a representative from Human Rights Watch on the situation in Chad and Central African Republic, 2 countries bordering and severly effected by the situation in Darfur, Sudan. What has resulted, much like in Sudan is violent rebellion and counter-rebellion against the government which spreads throughout civilians and leads to disorder, grotesque human rights abuses including rapes, kidnappings and murder. The military groups and governments have become so corrupt that many deny humanitarian aid and peacekeepers into the areas (ok, I'm done being on my soap box for the moment). It was neat to see this process as these briefings are the preliminary stages to getting these items on the sub-committee agendas to then bring them to congress where greater attention can be paid and the immediacy of the issues can hopefully be addressed.
I rushed back to the office stopping to grab supplies for my upcoming craft project (yes, my work lets me do arts and crafts, sounds like my kinda place!). Only to fly back out the door to make my way to the West Lawn of the Capitol to see the Dalai Lama. Thats right, Mr. Buddhism himself was here in DC to receive the Congressional Gold Medal (highest honor awarded by congress). This was telecast from the Capitol rotunda but he emerged after an hour of traditional Tibetan and Nepalese performers arm-in-arm with Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and fellow Buddhist and friend Richard Gere. He delivered his speech to the public in Tibetan, calling for non-violence, peaceful reconciliation and negotiation and thanking all the people who have been a part of those so far.
While there was lots of pomp and circumstance surrounding the whole affair (at an event in DC, how could that be??? his message was clear and well received by the audience, many of who were Tibetan's themselves. The Dalai Lama presented Nancy Pelosi with a gift of "building" symbolizing all her work in establishing good relations between the Dalai Lama and the US government, and Richard Gere had a few (correction a litany) of nice things to say about the Dalai. The whole get-up was pretty neat to see. There is definitely a lot of respect and admiration between the Dalai Lama and the representatives of government and the US (Pelosi and Gere) that I saw. And plus, who wouldn't think its cool to see the Dalai Lama himself.
It seemed the excitement was wearing down but really it was just half time. The girls from work and I headed back to the office, where productivity hit a low point and were there for less than an hour before our scheduled happy hour date on nearby 8th Street, or Barracks Row. We were beckoned by $2 glasses of wine, 1/2 price bottles of wine and appetizers. We finally wrapped up about 9 to head back home for the night.
Whew...it was nice to be done.