The US Consulate in Chennai organised for me to have a voluntary visitor leadership programme on the last week of my tour. They really did a great job of putting together a most magnificent programme for me to visit institutions working on peace education, conflict resolution, peace building etc in Washington DC and New York city and gave me a guide Mrs.Mary Wilburn, a retired lawyer who took me around. It was great company as she gave me historical stories as we went around, pointed out unusual things and insisted I go into the Indian embassy and say Hello after I took pictures at the Gandhi Statue in the nation's capital. As expected, Indian embassy was least interested in their citizen. In fact, the lady receptionist told me that she was surprised to see an Indian taking pictures at the Gandhi statue. "Normally it is Americans and others who take pictures there" she said and brushed us off. My meetings with institutions working on non violence, conflict resolution and peace building was most productive. The most interesting thing was when I was having a meeting at the Meridian International House, a gorgeous woman peeped in and said "I heard there is an Indian visiting and I could not resist the temptation to say Namasthe. I lived in India for three years." I said I am from Chennai and it was Chennai she had lived in as the wife of a US embassy official. The beautiful woman Joan Huskey took me out to lunch after our respective meetings and told me the story of her co founding Global Adjustments, a business that helps expatriates to settle in India and the American International School. We had a most marvelous conversation. Every name she mentioned, I knew very well. My itinerary was fulfilling. Here is the list.
May 3rd - International Visitor Leadership programme visit Meeting with Ms.P.Kowall, Programme Officer, Office of International visitors, US Department of State, Mr.Lau Gieszel, President elect of Association for conflict resolution at Meridan International House,Surprise meeting with Joanne Huskey, Mr. Charles F.Dambach,President and CEO Alliance for Peace building, Ms.Patricia Maulden, Institute for Conflict Resolution, George Mason University, Washington DC.May 4th - International Visitor Leadership programme Meeting with Mr.Lakshitha Saji Prelis, Associate Director, Peace building and Development Institute, American University, Mr.Jefferey W.Helsing, Deputy Director, Education and Training Center of U.S.Institute for Peace, center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Washington DCMay 6th - International Visitor Leadership programme - meeting with Ms.Elizabeth Enlow, Regional Director, American Friends Service, Ms.Karen Bernstein and Ms.Nivedita Gutta, of Safe Horizon Mediation Programme, Ms.Jane Brody of Peace first New York City.May 7th - International Visitor Leadership programme - Meeting with R.J.DeSena Founder President Council for Peace, Creative Arts Team, the City University of New York and witnessing performance of "Face It" - presented by City at Peace - New York.