Walking Through Washington D.C.: Reflections from the Capital

Robi Kate Miranda
4 min readMay 24, 2024


The final leg of our YSEALI Academic Fellowship took us to Washington, D.C., the capital city and federal district of the United States.

A couple of interesting facts about D.C.—Do you know why the nation’s capital is in D.C.? It was chosen as a middle ground for both northern and southern states. According to the History of Washington D.C., “Alexander Hamilton and the northern states wanted the new federal government to assume Revolutionary War debts, while Thomas Jefferson and the southern states wanted the capital placed in a location friendly to slave-holding agricultural interests.”

Another fun fact—Washington, D.C. was designed to resemble Paris, France. Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Frenchman who fought in the Revolutionary War, became a trusted city planner for George Washington and greatly influenced D.C.’s unique design.


To make the most of our limited time in D.C., we quickly checked into the Embassy Suites hotel upon our arrival and immediately headed to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the only museum in DC open until 7:00 PM. There, we saw portraits of men and women who have made significant contributions to U.S. history, development, and culture. Some of my favorite sections included “The Struggle for Justice” and “Forces of Nature,” which highlighted influential environmentalists.

The next day was our free day in D.C.! During this time, we explored the National Mall, visited the National Museum of Natural History, and saw the Smithsonian Institution Building, the World War I and II Memorial, and the White House.

Meanwhile, on Monday, we‘re able to meet Ms. Gondan Renosari, the Director of Conservation Strategies for the Asia-Pacific Region of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). TNC operates in 39 countries and partners with organizations in over 80 countries. My key takeaway from our discussion was the crucial role the Asia-Pacific region plays in sustainable development. The region has both the human and environmental resources to combat climate change. I also admired TNC’s non-confrontational approach to working with various stakeholders and Ms. Renosari’s emphasis on finding common interests and goals to collaborate effectively. She also stressed the importance of being strategic in addressing human and environmental issues.

After this fruitful discussion, my co-fellows and I read our reflection letters from the first day of the program and shared how we had achieved our personal and professional goals with the group. This particular session made me appreciate more the richness of our experience in the USA—this will forever be embedded in my heart and my mind.

We also paid a courtesy visit to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., where we met Filipino co-fellows from other programs and universities.

Later that night, we returned to the National Mall to see Washington, D.C. illuminated and visited the Lincoln Memorial.

On our last day in D.C., we visited the office of a senator from Montana. While discussing climate change, we noticed that the senator’s office seemed to have different views on the urgency of the issue.

We then had lunch at the U.S. Capitol Center and toured the historic U.S. Capitol Rotunda and the National Statuary Hall. We received our certificates from the U.S. Department of State and participated in a brief reflection and feedback session.

We ended our visit with a farewell dinner at Ala Restaurant (which offers Halal Mediterranean Cuisine) with the University of Montana’s Mansfield Center staff and our co-fellows. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us, marking the official end of our program.

Indeed, our visit to Washington, D.C. was the perfect culmination of the YSEALI Academic Fellowship. It allowed us to immerse ourselves in the rich history and culture of the United States while gaining valuable insights into sustainable development and environmental conservation. The experiences and lessons learned during this journey will undoubtedly shape our future endeavors as we strive to make a positive impact in our respective fields.

As we part ways, the memories and friendships forged during this program will remain with us, inspiring us to continue our mission of creating meaningful change in our communities.



Robi Kate Miranda

Hi, I'm Robi! Welcome to my blog. Read about my advocacies, self-help tips, productivity strategies, and everything in between.