My trip to DC was memorable in every way possible. Without wasting any time after checking into the hotel, my friend and I took a long midnight stroll along the streets of DC witnessing the beauty of the majestic famous landmarks such as the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. It was a night where the moon hung low and illuminated the streets; nothing less than a beautiful night.
Most of the fellows took the opportunity to get to know one another the next morning during breakfast. Even though we were not formally introduced beforehand, it was easy to identify the other fellows; the other Asians J All of us got along instantly as we share common passion for change. Many of the issues championed by the others resonated immediately within me and I was very excited to have the chance to spend the next few days with my new friends. I enjoyed a day out to a few museums, my favourite being the captivating Museum of Natural History.
We started our first official day at the YSEALI fellowship program with a trip to the Capitol for the ASEAN/YSEALI reception in Washington to celebrate the 40th anniversary or ASEAN. There were leadership from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, fellow academic and professional fellows, ICMA staff and some ambassadors from ASEAN/YSEALI countries. I had the privilege of representing the YSEALI legislative cohort to share my community challenge on the state of children living in institutions in Malaysia and my hopes for the program. Even though most of my morning was filled with nerves, to be able to share my community challenge also provided me the opportunity to network with more people who came to know of my work.
The next day of our orientation organized by ICMA gave us an opportunity to have a deeper understanding of ICMA and the work that they do, our fellowship importance, history and expectations and have exposure towards other fellow’s community challenges. It was inspirational and enlightening to be surrounded by such amazing change makers from all around Southeast Asia and make meaningful work connections that would benefit both parties in the future.
Overall, I was truly appreciative and impressed by the success of the whole event and the efficiency of the ICMA staff to manage such a large group of fellows with much kindness and enthusiasm. It was a great opportunity to meet all the other fellows accompanied by a melancholy air of goodbyes the next day. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and exchanging our new experiences in the coming few weeks.