Writing to you live from DC, amidst high winds, thunder, and 1100 lightning strikes within the last 10 minutes. It's crazy and we're all hoping to keep power.
Nazrul and I! Malaysia to NY and NY to Malaysia :)
Anyways, besides this insane storm, yesterday we went to the Malaysian embassy with the 41 YES inbound kids from Malaysia. We spent a lovely bus ride with them; they were such an energetic and really just outgoing group. They were willing to talk to us about anything and everything Malaysia. They even sang to Jimmy for his birthday in 3 different languages; Tamil, Bahasa Melayu, and Mandarin. The 6 of us YES Abroad Malaysia groupies were the center of attention and everyone seemed genuinely pleased that Americans are going to their country after a great semester in our country. It was interesting to see how their time in the US changed their opinions of the country as a whole. We left the bus smiling, with invitations to spend time with the YES'ers in their Malaysian hometowns and promises to keep in touch.
|Nazrul and I- Malaysia to NY and NY to Malaysia|
After departing the bus we flocked to the Embassy of Malaysia sign for photo-ops. We got a really great group photo, but I'm not totally sure on whose camera. Once that was done, the gates opened and we very quietly entered the embassy, an air of anxiousness and excitement from all. Once seated, we got to see the beautiful Malay art, carpet, and decoration. We listened to speeches from the YES inbound group and were honored to hear the Malaysian ambassador to the US talk. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the 6 of us plus our group leader had to leave before the traditional Malaysian meal. It was really informative and insightful to hear everyone talk and I would have loved more time both with the students and at the embassy.
Alas, c'est la vie. From the embassy we headed to the Department of State building and after security screening we were escorted, yes, actually escorted, to a conference room in the basement, fully equipped with translation boxes on all the chairs and spinny leather chairs. Once all the groups arrived (there were some issues with disappearing bus drivers and running to be on time,) we were talked to by Kevin Baker, a major leader of the YES Program. We all met him at the IPSE in Denver, so it was nice to see a familiar face in a semi-nerve-wracking setting. After he was finished talking to us, we were lucky enough to have a keynotes speaker of Undersecretary Tara Sonenshine. She's basically second in line to Secretary Clinton. She was able to answer so many questions, not only on programs like YES, but also on careers in international relations and global issues and policies currently affecting the United States. As someone interested in a Department of State career, it was good to learn what kind of path I could follow to get there.
Finally, a regional panel with people specific to each region the YES Abroad countries are in answered various questions. This was very country specific, but still helpful.
After this long lunchless day, we went to see the Lincoln Memorial and then FINALLY had dinner.
All in all, it was a great but busy day. We as YES Abroad'ers have a huge responsibility to keep funding going for government sponsored exchange programs like this and this gave us just a taste of who controls the funding. I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, and hey, not many 15 year olds can say that they've had the chance to meet someone who works so closely with Secretary Clinton.
part of Malaysia group all dressed up
Ambassador of Malaysia
, by Hannah