Cherry Blossom Princess Week
I wanted to provide an update about the Cherry Blossom Festival I attended last week. Even though I left for Washington, D.C. almost two weeks ago - it seems like it was just yesterday. Time really flies when you are having fun!
For those who may have missed my first blog on the festival, the Cherry Blossom Princess program was created in 1948. Along with other Cherry Blossom Festival events, the program's mission was to foster a positive relationship between the United States and Japan. Each state was asked to pick a young women as a representative, who would attend events in Washington, D.C. for a week. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to represent the great (and first) state of Delaware!
I found the three main components of the princess experience to be cultural, educational, and philanthropic in nature.
We kicked off the week down at D.C.'s tidal basin, to light the lantern given to the United State by Japan in 1954. The lantern, which happens to be older then our country (circa 1651), stands as a gesture of friendship and peace. The lantern lighting ceremony was also accompanied by traditional Japanese music and a speech by Japan's Ambassador to the US. In addition to the lighting ceremony, the princesses were invited to the Ambassador's personal residence along with 300 other guests. My favorite parts of the night at the Ambassador's house had to be the Japanese tea preparation ceremony, sampling all the sushi, and listening to the fantastic live guitar music by a Japanese recording artist. Other cultural activities included visits to the embassies of Lithuania for tea and The Kingdom of Bahrain for lunch.
In addition to broadening cultural understanding, we had the pleasure of visiting several museums. The princesses visited the National Gallery of Art (always one of my personal favorites), Women in the Military Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I had not visited this museum before, and was particularly interested to see what I might find inside. I was delighted to find that one of my favorite pieces was donated to the museum by Clare Boothe Luce, one of my conservative women role models! I would encourage you to visit this museum should the opportunity arise, the art inside was truly spectacular.
Finally, the Cherry Blossom Princesses were able to give back to the community. We went to the local food bank, and boxed up food to ship out around the city until practically all the bins on the warehouse floor were empty! Next, we went to a local elementary school to read to the students (I got to read Monster Pet!) and discussed the importance of reading and education. I had the most adorable students and didn't want to leave when the morning was drawing to a close. Finally, we were able to visit the USO to pack care packages for women currently serving overseas in the military. I must say this was my favorite service event. Not only did we get to have a blast dancing in our long assembly line, but we also got to pack essentials for American women who work hard everyday to ensure our safety. We packed about 1200 care packages, I only wish we could have done more.
Other highlights of the week included a congressional reception, a grand ball, and the National Cherry Blossom Parade on Saturday morning. While the week was tiring, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I would encourage all eligible women to apply to their state societies for next year's festival, I promise you won't regret it! Information about the state societies may be found here.
The only drawback - having to go back to school/work after being treated like a princess all week!