Monday, April 22, 2019

YSEALI PFP Day 1: Exploring Washington DC - the Capital of the United States

20 April 2019

The months of "drilling" the message to my son that "Papa is going to US, a far far away place" had eased him into the reality.

A last kiss before the long flight

For both Jocelyn and myself, the flight plan was Singapore - Seoul - Washington DC. We greatly appreciated ACYPL for booking aisle seats for the both of us.

At Seoul, we met our counterparts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

With Vietnamese Professional Fellows

With Professional Fellows from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam

Had an insightful conversation with Ben, a state teacher from Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, on US politics and teachers' unionism. Learnt that unions, leveraging on their relations with State government, had assisted to speak to aggrieved members to prevent them from striking. And that union members could pay lesser tax!

After the arduous 14-hour flight, we landed at Dulles International Airport, where we were welcomed by ACYPL Project Director Kaylee, who had been corresponding to the Professional Fellows over the past months via emails. 

For the first time in my life, a day had more than 24 hours. It was still 20 April 2019.

A view from Dulles International Airport

Virginia is for Lovers :D

Washington DC borders the States of Virginia and Maryland. Our bus brought us across a bridge on the Potomac River which divides Virginia and Washington DC,

Our stay in Washington DC was at the Residence Inn Dupont Circle.

We met our Indonesian Professional Fellows

Discussion for programme for the free day

Since there is no formal programme for the day, some of us tagged ourselves to Jocelyn who had already planned on visiting the various museums at the National Mall (for the uninitiated, the National Mall is not a shopping mall, but a national park lined up with monuments and museums). We took a long but manageable brisk walk from our hotel, enjoying sightseeing as we geared ourselves for a tight agenda. 

First stop was the National Air and Space Museum. It was part of the Smithsonian Institution which is the world's largest museum and research complex. And it keeps the entrance fees of its museums free of charge! Aviation was invented by Americans, and the museum proudly displays the history on how we got to flying safely as we do now.

Architecture of the National Museum of American History

Get to touch a piece of the moon, which was very smooth, probably polished by visitors' touch

With a model of Wright Brothers' plane behind us

Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

Charles Lindbergh, pilot of the first solo transatlantic airplane flight in 1927

Marine Chronometers

What makes Marine Chronometers so precise

NASA Spacecraft

Second stop was the National Museum of American History, also a Smithsonian museum.

Here are some exhibits in the museum:


Superman Costume

Storm from X-Men

 But of course the highlight is the gallery on the American Presidency, which provided a good introduction to what laid ahead of us for the next few weeks of the programme.

The Presidential Oath of Office

Seal of the President of the United States

And a chance to be President :p

Look at how thick President Bill Clinton's 2001 federal budget and addendums report was

Which is roughly similar to the report submitted by independent counsel Kenneth Starr who investigated Clinton's transgression

But to be fair, the last time US had a budget surplus was during Clinton's term of office.

Signages of streets named after former Presidents

Our exhaustion well hidden in those smiles :)

The Linda and Pete Claussen Hall of Democracy was next.

"In 1776 many colonists made a great leap of faith: they united around the ideals that "all men are created equal" and entitled to the "unalienable rights" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." They declared that all government arose from the people and depended on popular consent. These ideals would shape American politics and society in the centuries that followed.
Yet it was an unequal world. Americans also inherited a belief in social hierarchy and institutions that perpetuated inequality. Through the generations, Americans inspired by the Declaration of Independence would contend with these conflicting ideas and commitments." 

The first draft of Declaration of Independence written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1776

Voting Booth

A quote from the Declaration of Independence

"... With these rights, they (founding generation of American political leaders) believed, came responsibilities that citizens needed to assume in order to fulfill the new promise of the new nation. These lofty goals and principles never had a singular interpretation and over time have led to differing ideas and heated debates."



Elsewhere in the Museum, 


The Great Historical Clock of America

A last photo, with the Spangled Banner, before the musuem closed

And the walking continued

The Treasury Department

Archives of the United States of America

The White House

Blair House, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had been invited to stay in

After dinner with some Professional Fellows, it was time to tune down to rest for Easter Sunday, when we would go for group visits to the National Museum of African History and Culture as well as several monuments of former Presidents.