One of the best things about living in major, international cities is the diversity of the people. That is certainly the case in the greater Washington, DC area. As I learned during my time working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as the numerous employee affinity groups at AOL, it’s a wonderful experience to learn and understand the many, different cultures.
There are so many neighborhoods to visit, explore and learn in Washington, DC and its suburbs. I’ve always been a fan of Chinatown in DC but this is much more the case since I’m there regularly to visit with two of my mentees, Sally and Da-Zhi. We eat frequently at the restaurants in Chinatown. And, that area has become a popular spot since the Verizon Center opened there in ’97. The Penn Quarter is a thriving area but fortunately there are still a number of Chinese restaurants and stores that remain.
If you really want to get a slice of the Vietnamese culture, the must-see place to visit is the Eden Center. The food there is authentic and fantastic. But, if you go there, it’s not just restaurants, it’s also full of grocery stories, appliance stores and pretty much whatever you need. You will definitely a feel for the Vietnamese way of life in this terrific area.
Korea town in Annandale is the place that has blown me away. Although I went to Woodson HS in Fairfax, I had a number of close friends that went to Annandale HS. The neighborhood and high school was nearly all Caucasian. But, the area has gone through a dramatic change in the past couple of decades. There’s now a plethora of Korean restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment venues, auto repair shops, etc. The place has gone through a complete transformation.
If one is looking to check out communities with a strong Hispanic base, the best places are Adams Morgan and Arlington County. There are so many good restaurants — from different types of Hispanic cultures — to choose from. But, it’s not just the food — soccer, music, clothing, whatever one is looking for can be find in these neighborhoods.
Of course Washington, DC has long been regarded as the capital for African-Americans. This can be an entirely separate blog posting. The history of African-Americans in DC is so lengthy and remarkable. The landmarks are too numerous to mention. But, as one who has worked with non-profits focused on helping children from Wards 7 and 8 as well as other parts of the city, I have experienced first-hand how we can all work together and help each other achieve our goals in life.
I could go on and on … writing about the Indians, Brits, Russians, Swedes, Ethiopians … but you get my point. This city is rich in diversity. It is a true melting pot. So many different cultures and backgrounds. It’s great to learn about other cultures — and to grow from these experiences. We, as a metropolitan area, are better off because of it.