Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 New Thing 6: One Weekend, Two Road Trips

I've been to both Boston and Washington, DC lots of times before, but never via road trips on the same weekend.  It all started out when two Saint Michael's College clubs -- the Student Global AIDS Campaign and the Dear Hilary Campaign for the Congo -- decided to join forces and take a bus down together to Washington DC so that we could spend Friday doing a rally at the state department ("Joining Hands for the Congo") and some lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Late Thursday afternoon 55 Vermonters -- about 30 students and faculty from Saint Mike's, the rest members of the local Congolese community (and a few, like my friends Cleophace and Pierre, who are both) loaded up the bus and headed out for the 10+ hour drive to the Nation's capitol.  The next day we held a big noon-time rally directly in front of the state department, complete with drumming, a song in Swahili that Naweza patiently taught us on the bus ride down, speeches, and most importantly, an appearance by a number of state department officials working on African issues who came down and asked to meet with some of our leaders.  One of the chief demands they discussed was our call for a special envoy to the Great Lakes region.  Given that the Congo is (and has been for 15 years) experiencing the greatest devastation caused by conflict on the planet (more deaths, rape and murders than Iraq, Afghanistan and the Sudan combined), we believe that the focused attention that a special envoy could bring to the conflict is obviously warranted, and in fact, long overdue.

One of the best things about being political in Washington DC is the chance to see some of my favorite alumni.  Here I am (complete with rain-soaked hair and a Michelle Duggar-esque t-shirt and long skirt ensemble) with Kelly and Siham.

Sam, Alexsis and Alyssa -- we thought we were early, but actually we were just waiting on the wrong side of the state department building. (Alyssa has her own blog: get her version of events at

After the rally ended, a team of us headed over the Senate buildings to lobby on global health spending and issues in the Congo.  Our group, pictured here talking to a staffer for Senator Kerry, also met with staff from Senator Leahy's office, which the other team visited the offices of Senators Collins and Shaheen
The trip to DC was the epitome of speedy.  We left Burlington on Thursday afternoon and arrived back on Saturday morning. For me, that was pretty necessary, because I also had a plan to spend part of the weekend in Boston, visiting my beloved niece Tigist and her parents, Katrinka and Brian, who were in town for a conference.  It was a lot of driving for a single weekend, but some things are so completely worth it.  Here's some pictures featuring the cutest three year old in the world (that would be Tigist).
Tigist and mom (my sister Katrinka) hanging out at the New England Aquarium.

Siham joined us for dinner Sunday night.  She and Tigist share an unusual hobby, namely finding the teeniest tortilla chips in the basket to eat.

Although Tigist was too little to appreciate it, we had dinner at the Border Cafe in Cambridge because it has special significance to Katrinka and Brian -- it's the place they met.  Here they are with Siham, Tig and Brian's colleague, Kell.

Saying goodbye to Tig before heading back to Burlington Monday morning.


  1. Awesome! I wish i was there for all of the awesome things you guys have been doing! Thanks for reading my blog...I think it might just be you and my mom!! Miss you!!