I am anxious. I am always anxious about travel and the limitations of visas. That a particular passport or visa can deny you entry. I have traveled a number of times but the same feeling always hangs around me. I don’t know if the immigration officer at the point of entry is going to make it easy for me or hard. Sometimes it is a hollow feeling that develops in the stomach and keeps getting deeper until I am at the immigration officer’s counter. Then I hand over my documents and hold my breath. Waiting. It did not take long. I went to get my luggage and rolled them out to the arrivals area looking for a paper with my name on. There was none. I wondered how I would see my pickup till I heard my name called and turned to see Roshani smiling at me. It was then that I was able to breathe. I had made it alright. We roll the trolley to the car park where we take a taxi to the Tabard Inn, where I will be staying for two nights. We get to the inn, a picturesque building with creepers. After checking in, we go to the T-mobile store to activate my phone and buy monthly package. The customer care service at that branch is terrible. We are tossed from counter to counter and then the pin will not load till much later in the night.
The day is busy with an array of meetings. Roshani picks me up from the Tabard Inn. DC is beautiful. We first stop at Bank of America to open up an account for me. The customer care manager is very warm and guides me through the process. The first meeting takes place at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC. It is a sunny day. At NED, we meet a team from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and the East/Horn and Southern Africa team. The discussions revolve around the state of the media in Uganda today, and what topics can endanger a journalist. It is noted that there are few women journalists doing investigative political writing. We later meet Xerxes Spencer of the Reagan-Fascell Fellowship of the NED, who talks more in detail about the fellowship. Applications for the next program are ongoing.
We later visit the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, where emphasis is on promoting international journalism across all media platforms. Themes of interest include fragile states, downstream: water and sanitation, Haiti: after the quake, food insecurity, women and children in crisis, climate change, dying for life: maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.
The last stop for the day is at the Washington Post where we meet Tiffany Harness, the Foreign Weekend Editor. We discuss the critical issues in Africa today, Libya being the main news topic. With media houses scaling down on resources worldwide, it does affect the coverage coming out of Africa and the rest of the global south. News articles focus on the big stories of the time and other issues take back stage.
I am leaving the next day for Boston but a visit to DC is incomplete without taking a picture infront of the White House.