Hollywood on the Potomac
It’s not every day that you get to go to the White House, especially to discuss and engage on international policy issues; but this week, that privilege was reality for nearly 100 bloggers, writers, producers and educators from the travel space. The gathering, tagged aptly online as a summit for #WHTravelBloggers, was a full day of exploration and discussion about the benefits of cross-cultural educational and cultural exchange and boosting international student travel and study abroad.
From the start of the day, it was clear this was going to be an interactive experience rather than a typical one sided summit where experts speak at you from a stage. A lively breakfast on the top floor of the W Hotel (formerly the historic Hotel Washington) kicked off the melding of minds and thoughts. Participants were encouraged to…participate, sharing anecdotes and photos and every detail of the day on social media. Naturally, this gathering of digital media folks would have been hard to keep off of the internet; every last one vested in communicating and sharing experiences with people near and far for the collective benefit, and that spirit was necessary to tackle the international issues at hand. Each tagged post additionally became part of a growing mosaic highlighting top tweets about the day’s activities.
What can we tell you about a black-tie marathon night that began at 7pm Saturday and went on until the after-party ended at three a.m Sunday? Lots.
They partied hard and thoroughly at the Capital City Ball at Georgetown’s City Tavern Club, where three hundred and fifty party-goers sashayed through four floors of fun on Saturday night. If that weren’t enough at one o’clock the hardiest went on to K Street’s handsome Malmaison for the after-party.
From the top floor Sponsors Lounge to the lower level where winners collected their silent auction trophies, there was a lot happening. The ball always promises “Open bar and heavy hors d’ouevres”—and keeps its word with four bars among three floors, no disappointingly long lines.
Nothing says ‘you’re in for a good time’ faster than being greeted at an event with a glass of Russian Standard Vodka! Such was the case at the 2014 Russian Gala: Photojournalism to Cinematography 1914-2014 held at the National Geographic Society building honoring Karen Shakhnazarov, Chairman of the Board of Mosfilm, and National Geographic Society’s Gilbert Grosvenor, Chairman Emeritus.
“For me it has been a steady pleasure in dealing with Russia no matter who is in charge of the place,“ TH Jim Symington, Chairman of the Board, told Hollywood on the Potomac. “I went there as a student in 1958, learned some Russian, took my guitar and met a lot of wonderful people and began sharing ideas with them. When I got back to the States, I began taking a message to Congress.” After a series of Government positions, Symington was elected to four terms representing Missouri in the US House of Representatives, where he chaired the subcommittee on International Cooperation. He was part of a group that founded the nonprofit American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation in 1992, to support increased cultural exchange between the US and Russia, of which he is now Chairman of the Board. “It’s been a labor of love,” he added.