Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 6: DCCC, luncheon, pollster and night tour of Washington DC

It takes immense discipline to blog every day and without the luxury of time, I have not been able to produce more meaningful and thoughtful blogs.  So, I’m going to cheat for this entry. Instead of long narratives, I’m going to post some photos to help unfold the events that took place today.

Meeting with Johanna Berkson, Director of Training & Campaign Staff Recruitment of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)


Top: Johanna (in red) explaining what her portfolio at the DCCC does. In a nutshell, it recruits and trains staff and congressional candidates on how to run an election campaign.


Right: It’s common practice for delegates to thank each person we meet with a small token of appreciation from home. I normally give them a button badge and sticker of the MyConstitution Campaign.

ACYPL Fellows luncheon @ Zaytinya

Had a lovely luncheon with the delegates from Pakistan who just finished their fellowship in Salt Lake City, Utah and several ACYPL staff and alumni members. I’m going to live up to my identity as a Malaysian. Let’s talk about food first. Here’s some of the delectable Middle Eastern/Mediterranean meze on the menu; baba ghannouge, tzatziki, sauteed mushrooms with dates and toasted almonds, salmon cooked with spicy eggplant and cracked green olive salsa and turkish delight.


Heer Soha (left) shared her experience in Salt Lake City. She shyly confessed that she had misconceived perceptions of Americans before she joined the programme. According to her, she didn’t like what she heard about Americans and at the same time also thought that Americans did not like Pakistan nationals. She was pleasantly surprised to experience warm hospitality and kindness displayed by all the Americans she has since met. She particularly like the Mormon community and feels that they share similar cultures; conservative and teetotaler. She added that she was very grateful that her hosts were respectful of their religious practices.

Below: We had Rachel Zagrabelny McGreevy, an Alumnus to Islamabad in 2006, and Heer Soho, a Member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, Pakistan on our table.



Top: The lovely and ever-friendly Philippino delegation who will be going to Atlanta, Georgia for their fellowship. From left to right: Benedicto, Ivy, Aura and Daisy.


Top left: Ellin Rozana, Executive Director of an NGO in Indonesia called Institut Perempuan, eating salmon for the first time in her life.

Top right: Contrary to popular belief that Americans generally stuff themselves up with fast food, people living in Washington DC tends to eat better and healthier. There’s hardly any McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut or KFC around. Instead, there are tonnes of great restaurants such as this. Words have it that Michelle Obama is making great effort to promote healthy eating amongst American and it’s definitely visible here in Washington DC. It’s also the capital for running!

“What do the polls say?” with Karen Emmerson, Associate Analyst, Lake Research Partners

After a 3-course lunch, we waddled to our next meeting. Afraid that I was going to fall asleep, the session was thankfully incredibly interesting.

Karen gave a well-prepared and thorough presentation on what the polls say about the Democrat’s standing for the mid-term election. Again, the results do not favour them. She also shares the A-Z on how to conduct a poll and how it affects a candidate’s campaign.


Top:  Kristin Rhebergen (middle), labelled as a “walking google search machine” by one of the delegates, illustrated the meaning of exit polls while being watched by Rizki (far left) and Karen.


Top from left to right:  Erin (the lovely ACYPL intern and official group photographer), Rajiv, Ivy and Betty enjoying Karen’s presentation.

Washington DC by night

I have to admit that I’m slowly falling in love with Washington DC. I used to think that New York City is one of the most awesome cities I’ve ever been but Washington DC has a soul. NYC is all about the lifestyle but Washington DC is about the city and its remarkable stories. It is almost as if everything that was built on the city prior to the 20th century has a meaning and purpose.

IMG_6976Ken Insley (left), an alumnus to China in 2002, did a fantastic job of introducing the city to us in 2 hours. He astounded us with his in-depth knowledge of American history, which he credited to the years he taught in a high school.

When we past by Smithsonian, Ken revealed  why admissions to the 19 museums are free. (Read here for the story behind it.) According to him, the Air and Space Museum remains the world’s most visited museum. Due to recent economic recession, the number of Americans visiting Washington DC has increased substantially.

Ken may be delighted to know that I’ve decided to spend my free afternoon tomorrow at the museums even though I’m not a museum person.  In honour of James Smithson’s aspiration to promote universal education, I am going to make an exception for this. I have a strong hunch that it would make a couple of people very happy. 


Top: Inside the Washington Monument. The walls contain massive inscriptions of parts of the US Declaration of Independence. Below: The large columns predominantly seen on most monuments in Washington DC were very much inspired by the Greeks.




Left: The Lincoln Memorial.

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