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On Friday, February 23, contributing writer, Aubrey Shaffner, joins young professionals at the Embassy of Bahamas for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that delivers the Spirit of Nassau and Paradise Island with a diplomatic touch!

This past weekend I decided to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of reality and head to the Bahamas! Well, actually it was the Embassy Consular Annex of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, but close enough! Between the live music, the food, and the atmosphere, it really felt like I had stepped out of DC and into the Caribbean for the evening.

Held on Friday night, the Embassy hosted a networking event for young professionals in the DC region. The evening started with an insightful speech from the new Consul General of the Bahamas, Mr. Theo Neilly, who not only was so welcoming, but also expressed opportunities for all in attendance to succeed in their business, investment, and networking growth.

His speech was followed by a short video to help get to know the Bahamas a little bit more. It was a great way for everyone there to understand the common wealth and anticipate in finding professional opportunities within the Bahamas. I was lucky enough for a chance to speak one-on-one with Consul General Neilly after his speech. He was wonderful and so approachable. I really appreciated how down to Earth he was. We not only talked about the event but about his time so far in DC, where he described his love of all the “characters “ he found around the city. We also discussed about him coming up to my home city of Baltimore, which I do hope he will soon come to visit!

 

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Afterwards everyone was free to mingle! Set to the mood of live steel drums, provided by Peter Humphrey from Oasis/Island Sounds, groups began to form around the room as individuals got to know each other. I made many connections and learned about everyone’s different positions. The first gentleman I spoke to helped refugees apply for Asylum in the United States. Especially considering the current tension on the subject these days, it was wonderful learning from someone first hand the steps of the process in which refugees go through. I also met another gentleman who was a medical resident, focusing on Oncology, and two wonderful women who work at Johns Hopkins University focusing on Bioengineering. It was a great mix of individuals and professions.

Photo Feb 23, 8 30 04 AM
Consul General of the Bahamas, Mr. Theo Neilly, and Aubrey Shaffner. Photo courtesy of Hannah Smith.

Quickly after the Consuls speech the buffet opened. Caribbean food is an absolute hit with everyone! All around me quickly moved in to grab a plate of the authentic meal. A selection of spicy cucumber and tomato salad, conch fritters, rice with beans, plantains, and my favorite, curried chicken.

Towards the end of the night, I briefly spoke to the chef in charge of our meal and was  fascinated to learn about how he made some of the dishes. I could have stood there and talked to him all night had we had the time. I even tried to get some recipes but unfortunately he didn’t have them with him. Even dessert was amazing! There were two options: a classic chocolate and cherry cake, as well as a festive coconut and banana bread pudding. I chose the latter and it happened to be the best selection of the entire night! Served warm, the bread pudding was perfectly soft but still provided texture with the crunchy flakes of coconut baked right in. A creamy vanilla rum sauce on top gave it the tropical flair! All together it melted in my mouth and I immediately went for seconds!

To pair with the great meal was a glass of tropical rum punch, that really had everyone in a great mood! Classic options such as red and white wine, and a light beer were also provided. Needless to say the Embassy did an amazing job of hosting; making us feel like we truly were all friends hanging out on an island with no cares in the world. As the event was winding down Mr. Humphrey even gave me a quick lesson on how to play the steel drums! He explained to me how it was similar to learning piano, that both had the same musical scales.

I, along with everyone I connected with, enjoyed the night! Few attendees even shared details about their Embassy event trips through Things to do DC. These events provide a great opportunity to “travel” and truly experience almost anywhere in the world right at home. I do encourage anyone in, or around, the DC area to attend a similar event in the future. My only complaint was that time went by too quickly!

Be sure to head to Islands for the Next ThingstoDoDC Cultural Event at the Embassy of Bahamas: Caribbean Celebration on May 4! 

 

Written by Aubrey Shaffner

A Hotel Pastry Sous Chef and Culinary Institute of America alum who writes when not in the kitchen.

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