It is the 5th of January, it is Saturday, It is time for me to prepare myself to leave Chicago and to prepare for my third big adventure in the united states of America. This time I will be going to the Capital, to Washington DC. The United States of America is the most powerful countries in the world and I wanted to see how does a modern Rome looks like. I heard that feeling that you might be getting when visiting Washington is mix between astonishment, excitement, appreciation, respect and fear. It is time to go to modern Rome, Washington, where much of the political big decisions about our current world might be decided. Only the congress controls an annual spending that is equivalent the total GDP of Germany.
Standing at the entrance of the Union station in Washington DC , the station is AMTRAK headquarter and it is visited by more than 40 million people every year.
To be honest, I am also visiting Washington DC to attend the Transportation Research Board Annual conference. The biggest Transportation research conference in the world. I think this conference will be very important to me as I will be having the exposure needed to the transportation community and to know about the current school of thoughts are the areas of transport. Concepts like smart mobility, intelligent transportation systems, railway engineering and transportation planning was always highly associated with our work at Emergence, it is time to show our work to the world and build new collaborations.
I wake up on this morning on my usual time, I went to have my breakfast, I have chosen a big table so maybe some people would like to join, I believe in group conversation as a facilitator for a later more deep and more personal one to one conversations, I do not think that I was very much keen on having one to one conversation with anyone on that day. So maybe something interesting will come out of a group conversation. Unfortunately the seating arrangements nor people choices played in my favor on that day, I have sat on the edge of a ten seats table. On the other side there was a black woman eating in a way that some people in our current world might find it repulsive.
David and Elenor from Australia, the principal and the teacher of the working class school in Australia, came and say Hi, they had a very quick breakfast and carried on with their day. Edward and Rachel preferred to have their breakfast individually as a couple, something that you would expect from a love bird. Jake from Australia sat five seats far to my right side and he started talking to me. I wonder what he was thinking, he could have sat just beside me or at least in front of me.
He asked couple of questions, I answered, then I stopped talking to him. I do not know why, this dynamics has raised the cultural question with whom you would be ending up having your breakfast? A metaphorical question which implies that you belong to the group that you will be having breakfast with, this group could be identified based on race, ethnicity, religion, profession or other forms of classification.
I think of myself as a business man and a writer, however, none of the people that I meet in the hostel can be identified among these groups, most of them has worked as employees or they operate as freelancers, I have met Marcus who is a freelancer developing websites and asked him to team up on a project called TRBbrief.com. I will tell you more about this story on another blog.
On this day I went to the Union Station to book my Amtrak train trip from Chicago to Washington DC, I was content with my greyhound bus trip from Seattle to Chicago. The trains are much better, you would definitely have a more comfortable trip in the train having access to power chargers and table seats. As well having access to Toilets, Dining area and Cafeteria, better views of the nature around you, with windows reaching high to the sealing. Long story short, I booked my trip from Chicago to Washington DC for the 7th of January using an AMTRAK Train. Amtrak is the only passenger trains operator in the united states and it is owned by the federal government. The train experience in the united states is very different than the train experience somewhere else. A one difference that you will realize directly, many trains are double decker trains and the staff wears full uniforms.
I started writing my article and looked at my meetup app, as well as on my couch surfing app. There was a standup comedy show happening in town, but I thought it might be more interesting to meet people from Chicago. I finished writing part of the article, went out to the gym to exercise a little bit, then went directly to my meeting with group of couch surfers in the city.
I have met Jay from Chicago an Ex-business man who is working for the Environmental Protection Agency, he liked to talk about his partner, she is a senior figure in Boston Consulting Groups. Jay and his partner provides a good example young people aspirations, or what can be called the American dream vision for many young Americans and possible many people in the world.
Casadina is a doctor working for the NHS and Andrew is a junior consultant at McKenzie. Casadina is a doctor working for the NHS. He is living in a luxurious apartment near the Chicago river and the Nordstorm shop on Michigan Avenue.
I went to the meeting with expectations that those guys will be the kind of guys who know the tricks and the ins and outs of businesses in the unites states of America. To be honest, the conversation was rich of information, touching on so many topics from what does it take to be hired by Mackenzie, to healthcare stories, to couch surfing stories, Jay has helped a French woman to get an Emergency room (ER) healthcare treatment, overcoming some of the regulations hurdles. She kept calling him for 6 years after the incident. Casadina had a dangerous health encounter and took an extraordinary route for becoming a physician.
Andrew has just arrived to Chicago, he seemed to be accustomed to be travelling between cities due to his work. Honestly, I felt those guys possess high level of knowledge but I did not feel that they are involved in any kind of business from any sort. It is always hard to talk about the innovation , health or the environment, I bet marketing food will be much easier. I am confident that this group represents a sample of the top talents in the United states of America.
Well, some people will always be able to tell you clearly what they do, while others would invest their time in building an emotional human connection. I try to do both. Sometimes, many people tell me that I do not talk enough about what I do. I always try to upgrade my self-presentation strategy, sometimes, I take a direct approach and tell people that I am a consultant and a business man and start distributing cards and introduce them to our work and solutions through my youtube channel “Feras Shadid”. In other occasions, I try a more sophisticated approach and I try to direct people to my daily blog. This meeting was an exceptional meeting that has left me with mixed feelings.
I went back to the Hostel after the meeting, I was a little bit tired. I have talked with guys in the entertainment room briefly, then I went and slept and this was the 5th day of January in my tour in USA.
5th of January 2019