The last day in the program started with a debrief at the State Department. After a thorough security check and signing in, we received our “escort required” visitor passes and took the elevator to the basement, where we had brief sessions on the SUSI alumni program and a Fulbright program to bring experts over to our countries. The following feedback session turned out to resemble the one with the external evaluator the evening before in several respects. In any case, for the Bureau of Education program officers it soon became clear that this was not one of their usual “everything was great – thank you very much” debriefings. One could tell that they had not anticipated the nature and scope of our criticism. Anyway, we still got our diplomas 🙂 and had the rest of the day to explore Washington D.C.
We had a scheduled tour of the Washington Monument in the evening, which was fabulous. They only re-opened the elevator to the top recently for the public and even though we did not get to see a sunset, we saw how the lights went on everywhere in the city.
After that we went to an Ethiopean (I love Ethiopean!) restaurant for our farewell dinner. The food was excellent, however the atmosphere was awkward and I think it was because the program directors had had a meeting at the State Department in the afternoon to talk about their performance and there seemed to be this giant elephant in the room that made it difficult to simply have a good time. Since everyone leaves on different flights the next day and people were taken to the airport at different times, this was the last time we all saw each other and I think hardly anyone really realized it at the time, at least I didn’t. Web 2.0 will hopefully make it easier to keep in touch and that is what many of us are planning to do. So, this is it; at least for now and for the program.