Anyone who knows me well will know that I love trains, so it was no surprise that I woke up nearly of my own volition on Wednesday to be there nice and early for the Amtrak to Washington DC. After coffee and more bagels, we grabbed our wheelie suitcases and trundled down to the bus stop. $3.50 was well worth the view of Manhattan.
Boarding the train at Penn station, we were struck by the sheer size of the place- and the complete lack of natural light. Thanks to free Wi-Fi and our convenient location in the quiet car, we were able to spend the two-and-a-half-hour journey undertaking valuable research for our meeting with Generation Progress later in the afternoon. I did my makeup in the bathroom, basking in the not-Northern-Rail luxuriousness of the space around me. Not to mention the luggage racks! Nathan, although not as much of an anorak as me, also enjoyed himself, chatting to the lady next to him about the coming election. She said she was a lifelong Republican, but was undecided this election (although she’ll soon become a Fabian- Pouneh and I caught her looking at the YF website at the end of the journey).
We realized how hot it was in DC on our walk to the Generation Progress’ offices. Sweaty and stressed, the air conditioning in their offices felt like a Godsend. Despite our lateness, our meeting with Layla Zaidane, the managing director, went really well. We were all impressed to see an organisation so switched on to young people’s issues at the grassroots. Coming from the UK, it was shocking to hear about the financial distress that many young people were in due to student debt- the fact that the total level of student debt was around $1.3 trillion really hit home.
After a walk with our bags in the 35-degree heat, every one of us was exhausted. We’d dreamed of selfies on Capitol Hill, but gradualist and reformist as we are, we democratically decided that the best policy decision would be to order take-out pizza and make fun of Fox News at our accommodation. There’d be an early start tomorrow- no rest for the delegates of Britain’s oldest leftwing thinktank!
- By Leah Aaron, Young Fabian Delegate