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AAFSW Celebrates Nowruz Bayram/First Day of Spring

US Department of State: Burns Auditorium and National Museum of American Diplomacy

Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 11:00am-2:00pm

On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, together with the Embassies of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkiye, and Uzbekistan, AAFSW celebrated the first day of Spring as marked by the astronomical vernal equinox. AAFSW’s Nowruz Bayram, honoring the celebration of New Year according to the Persian calendar observed by many ethnicities around the world, was attended by well over 320 people including many dignitaries from the US Department of State and many Embassies and Missions in Washington DC.

After AAFSW President Celine Erickson, AAFSW Program Chair Sheila Switzer, and Master of Ceremonies Shalala Valiyeva welcomed all the guests, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, via a video message, congratulated AAFSW for putting together such an amazing program, followed by the celbratory remarks of US Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense Rebecca Zimmerman and Deputy Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development Angali Kaur.

Representing all the seven Embassies that helped organize the program as well as the buffet reception and the crafts’ exhibition which followed, the keynote speaker H.E. Maret Orazov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the US, discussed the importance of Nowruz to many cultures around the world. Ambassador Orazov acknowledged the customs of the neighboring countries and thanked the following dignitaries present and their spouses:Ambassador Khazar Ibrahim from Azerbaijan, Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev from Kazakhstan, Ambassador Bakyt Amanbaevfrom Kyrgyzstan, Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercanfrom Turkiye as well as Ambassador Farrukh Hamralizoda from Tajikistan and Ambassador Javlon Vakhabov from Uzbekistanwho were not present at the event. Ambassador Herzog from Israel as well asAmbassador Balkaliani from Georgia along with several officials from other Embassieswere present to offer their wishes on the celebration of Nowruz. Principal leadership of the US Governement in attendance also included US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dereck Hogan, Ambassador Pommersheim from DAS, Under-Secretary Zeya (Central Asian Affairs), Deputy Director Vanessa Acker from the Office of Central Asian Affairs, and Mr. Donald Lu from the Bureau of  South and Central Asisan Affairs.

The AAFSW cultural program continued with the live music performance by “Turan”, a well-known ethno-folk band, which played the music of: Uli Turan – Mangilik, Shabyt, Akku, a Potpourri of participating nations, and Yen Turan. Emphasizing cultural understanding through beauty and delight, internationally-recognized dance scholar Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, Founder and Artistic Director of “Silk Road Dance Company” known as “the pioneer of Uzbek dance in America”, presented the dancing group-performaces: Kara Kozim (Kazakhstan), Kara Jorga (Kyrgyzstan), Gavel Reqsi (Azerbaijan), Zarafshoni (Tajikistan), and Lazgi (Uzbekistan). 

A wonderful buffet reflecting the variety of savory dishes and perfumed desserts of all the seven countries represented in the AAFSW celebration of Nowruz followed at the National Museum of American Diplomacy. US Department of State employees, Embassy dignitaries, and AAFSW guests had the opportunity to mingle, enjoy a delectable lunch, and admire the plethora of arts and crafts put on exhibition for this AAFSW event, the 2023 Nowruz Bayram.

AAFSW is grateful to the Embassies ofAzerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkiye, and Uzbekistan for their generosity as welll as the US Department of State for facilitating this event. Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!

Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD

AAFSW Public Relations and Publicity Chair

AAFSW Fun For Funds Events Fundraising Chair

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