"JOURNALISTS have the best job in the world. You get paid to cause trouble. That's cool," says Jim VandeHei of POLITICO, which has been hailed for its coverage of national politics and Washington governance.
His remark was met by a ripple of laughter from the Edward R. Murrow international journalists gathered at the U.S. State Department, where we were having a discussion with a three-man panel consisting VandeHei, New York Times' Sheryl Stolberg and retired ABC News broadcast journalist Ann Compton.
It was an absorbing session, with journalists from all over the world voicing their frustrations about the challenges they experienced in their own country or asking questions about the way the American press system worked.
Being the Twitter and Instagram age, a good amount of time was spent discussing how social media has drastically changed the way people consume and share news.
Personally, one of my biggest takeaways from that session and the many other sessions since, is the incredible passion these people have for journalism.
VandeHei's remark closely echoes that of veteran American journalist Bob Woodward, currently associate editor of The Washington Post.
"Journalists have the best job in the world. We get into people's lives when they're interesting and get the hell out when they're not," says Woodward, who together with colleague Carl Bernstein, broke the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon's administration in the '70s.
We had also met up with The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, who at 82 years old (yes, my jaw dropped too), is still going strong as a journalist covering issues of national security.
Listening to him speak about journalism, I too felt this welling sense of pride in my job, a feeling that had numbed into the background during the day to day grind.
As the programme wore on, we travelled to Phoenix, Arizona, where we observed the mid-term elections and attended both Democrat and Republican election night parties, and then to Pensacola, Florida where we spoke to many locals as well as the local authorities.
I have another week left in New York, where my group (Australia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia) will meet up with the other groups after we parted in D.C. for the final leg.
It's been such a pleasure to learn so much more about my trade during this programme, knowing that as we received knowledge, we also provided knowledge to those we spoke to.
Getting a chance to talk to foreign journalists, exchange notes and ideas, discuss press, politics and social issues in our country - these all contributed to the realisation that I, too, really love my job.
During the course of my work, I've gotten to meet all sorts of Malaysians, who have in their own special way, contributed to my perspective and knowledge of my country.
Whether it was conversing with a village chief in a rural constituency during the general election last year, travelling with NGOs to cover massive environmental devastation, or interviewing a CEO about his business plans going forward, I've learned something new every single day since I took up this job four years ago.
But it's something I never really thought about until this trip.
That's why I wrote about it in this column, because I believe we all need to be reminded every so often of the reasons why we do what we do.
So regardless of whatever job you're in, we all need a little motivation and inspiration to straighten those tired shoulders and remember again just why we are the luckiest people in the world.
As usual, a quote to end this piece, so in the immortal words of Confucius, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." ISABELLE LAI The STAR Home News Opinion 10 Nov 2014