Touring Washington D.C in a day!

 Visiting places is fun, more so when you are at the capital city of U.S.A. I was invited by Google Inc. to attend the prestigious Ada Camp D.C held in Washington in July 2012. My three day trip was tightly packed, with two days spent at the conference venue and just one day left for sightseeing. There is so much to see at Washington D.C that it is near impossible to see them all in just one day. However, I managed to make the maximum out of my visit, and here are some tips for those who are planning to go to the U.S for sightseeing.
An airplane flying over the Potomac River, Washington D.C

 

Getting prepared: 

  •          If you have running shoes, pack them up! The city is seriously obsessed with running! So, join the insanity and do the sightseeing while jogging past your favourite tourist spots! If you are not a big fan of jogging, you could consider taking a bike tour or a bus tour.
  •             Camera is a must. Stop at the 19 foot long Lincoln Memorial, the sparkling Hope Diamond at Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the spiky Washington Monument to click a few snaps. I bet those pictures would be your most prized possessions once you reach back home!
  •             Get a map of the city. Maps are available for free at tourist spots and most restaurants.
In front of the Washington monument

 

Good morning!

Step back in time at one of the old fashioned restaurants in Dupont circle to have a scrumptious breakfast. Get a taxi and head to the Lincoln memorial by sunrise. It feels great to watch the Washington monument bathed in gold just after sunrise. Then move to the Potomac River and have a paddle boat ride to view the capital’s best monuments on the banks of the river.

At the Lincoln Memorial

 

Good afternoon!

The latest food trend in D.C is to follow the city’s food trucks. The trucks offer everything from muffins to sandwiches, so make sure that you enjoy some of the America’s indigenous delicacies. Then march ahead to the Smithsonian group of museums which showcase a wide variety of artifacts, exhibits and videos. The Air and Space museum and the Natural History museum are especially child friendly, so do not forget to take your kids there!

The specimen of the stuffed African Elephant at Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Exhibits at the Smithsonian Museum

 

Good evening!
It is evening and you haven’t yet finished strolling through the museums! Now it is time to go to the White House. Though getting an entry pass is hard, one could always get near the gates and pose for a picture near one of its gates. There are plenty of gift shops around, so do not forget to buy stuff for your relatives back home from here!
Good night!
The best place to hang out at night is one of the disco clubs or outdoor movie houses. Pamper your taste buds by eating a caramelized black cod or steamed fish with picklebacks for dinner!
Wikimania evening party in the Library of Congress, D.C

 

If time permits:
Go to the U.S botanical and zoological gardens. I missed this part, and I can’t yet forgive myself for missing it. This is the best place for kids to appreciate various ecosystems and diversity of the earth.
The locals are extremely friendly. The city has signboards and maps at every nook and corner, so there are no chances for you getting lost. If you are planning to do some heavy shopping, stroll over to Georgetown, where you’ll get plenty of souvenirs.
 
I couldn’t believe that the day ended so quickly! I had a very memorable time at D.C that I felt like not going back home!

PS: Thanks to Dr. Jayakrishnan for correcting one of the obvious errors in this article. 🙂

Insights from Ada Camp, Washington D.C

 Flying 19 hours with 7 hour transit just for a three day stay at the US is worth it only if you are planning to do something big. My three day trip to the US, with two of the days spent at the Ada Camp was worth it as every moment spent with the Ada campers was highly stimulating.

On the first day, we began by introducing ourselves, which was fun because we had to do it in three words! It was hard to find the right three words to describe myself! (medico, blogger, Wikimedian?) Then, I went about meeting people who had come from different parts of the world. It was hard to decide which session to attend, because there were eight wonderful parallel sessions at a time, and given a chance, I would want to attend all of them! There were, in total, 32 sessions, spanned out in two days, which were attended by a mix of audience – students, professionals and jobseekers.

I attended four sessions on the first day of the Camp, which were very useful :

1.     Can the women’s movement save Wikipedia?– The discussion was about the gender gap issues in Wikipedia and the role of existing women editors in increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects. The suggestions that came up where very interesting, and the Wikimedians who participated in this discussions planned to launch projects to improve women’s participation in Wikiprojects.

2.    How to convince people about the importance of gendergap in Wikimedia projects?- It is often difficult to make people understand the seriousness of the problems related to gender imbalance in the editor community, and this session proved to be useful in knowing the attitudes of people who are against gender-sensitive projects. There was a productive discussion on what is to be done in order to provide more attention to gendergap in Wikiprojects.

3.    How non-techie people can contribute to technology projects?- This session featured a discussion on the role of non-techie people in projects that deal with technology. Many women who had no prior experience with technology said that they were comfortable with tech-related projects. After all, anything could be easy for you if you are willing to learn!

4.    How to choose a mentor?- A session with heavy attendance on the qualities of a right mentor, the reasons why you should have a mentor especially if you are a newbie, issues with women having male mentors and what to do if the mentor behaves badly with you!

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                                                                 With a fellow Ada Camper

The second day was interesting too! It was on this day that I got acquainted with Python and webapps! The sessions in which I participated in the second day are:

 

1.    Ada Camp in other continents?- On reaching out to more people through the Ada initiative, conducting Ada camps in different countries and challenges involved in doing the same. Wish we could conduct the next Ada camp in India!

 

2.    How to program in Python?– Not having programmed in Python anytime in the past, it was interesting to find out the basics of programming with a bunch of women with similar interests. And yippee! I created my own programs in Python to perform simple tasks!

 

3.    10 moves that could save your life – The code for the moves, I still remember, is HACKERPUB. It was interesting to see the moves being demonstrated, and we split up into couples and practiced a few of the moves on each other. It built my confidence to know a few awesome moves that could be of help when in the face of danger.

 

4.    My first webapp – The session helped every attendee in creating her own webapp. Creating a webapp on one’s own might sound too complicated, but it proved to be easy when the facilitator guided us through the whole process.

 

The participants  were served Ethiopian and Lebanese food, and it was awesomely delicious! The notes on the sessions were documented on piratepad for future reference. The closing session on both days featured some awesome games, and all of us seemed to enjoy participating in them.

 

A few things I decided to do after deriving encouragement at the Ada camp:

1.      To move completely to ubuntu.

2.      To learn more of Python-programming and complement my knowledge in Python in making useful edits in Wikipedia.

3.      To involve in projects that welcome newbies to Wikiprojects, making Wiki-editing a pleasurable and rewarding experience for them.
My participation at the Ada camp gave me insights about the issues that I might face at the workplace and University as a woman, ideas to deal with them, and to excel in the chosen field of work by encouraging others to participate by mentoring, learning and by managing time to create an effective work-leisure balance.

Sincere thanks to Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurorafor inviting me to attend the Ada Camp. Many thanks to Google Inc. for sponsoring my travel and accommodation.