The Washington Post

State Department: Love, booze and visas.

The “Love Park” in Lima, Peru is popular spot for couples...and, perhaps, consular types. (Courtesy Embassy of Peru. )

Well, the State Department’s consular affairs bureau, which took the hit for that disaster, has just held its annual team-building day at embassies around the world under the theme “Follow Courageously.”

The theme, which is a little reminiscent of that much-attacked “lead from behind” motif, is explained over two full pages in an announcement of the event — a sure sign that the motto means everything and, well, nothing. Obey, but confront politely or something. But the Foggy Bottom folks take these things seriously.

In Lima, Peru, for example, the consular affairs team spent a half-day at what they called “a popular park for group activities.” Not sure, but a one quite popular park in Lima is the “Love Park,” or Parque del Amor, overlooking the Pacific and named for the statue “El Beso” by Peru’s most famous sculptor, Victor Delfin. As in many Lima parks, this is where people go to make out.

They had an “ice-breaker activity” where they discovered that one staffer played the bagpipes and another “had a pet crocodile as a child.” They held a scavenger hunt that included “taking a picture of a dog in a sweater.” (Remember, it’s summer down there.) So they put a sweater on a passerby’s pooch and snapped a photo.

In London, the consular team members started its celebration in the visa waiting room with a potluck breakfast of pastries and fruit while listening to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

The excitement surely built when, on their name tags, they finished the sentence: “When I was a kid I...” with things like “wanted to be a nun.” That “set the tone for a fun day,” they reported, which ended at a “‘Drink Courageously’ Happy Hour.”

Hey, if it will speed up passport and visa processing. . .

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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