In the words of Alyas Widita, a Fulbright Foreign Student from Indonesia:
I had a great time in Milwaukee. During my time there, I sensed from the millennials I met with an eagerness to transform the physical landscape and image of the city with their hands and hearts. I was a bit sad to leave, but also excited for the adventure awaiting the Fulbright-MTP group in Chicago.
Prior to departing for Chicago, I reminded myself to spend at least an hour of the trip sleeping. By the time the Fulbright-MTP group were on their way to Chicago, and MTP’s Patrick Dowd introduced one of the Chicago visit speakers, Charlie Monte Verde, Government Affairs Specialist at Amtrak, I could not help but stay awake to listen to him. Charlie Monte Verde spoke about topics that I am very interested in: the future of transportation, urban development, and how Amtrak will factor into all of these developments. Charlie reiterated Amtrak’s strategic importance in connecting communities throughout the country, especially the role of long distance rail routes. He pointed out that long distance rail routes are not merely a form of transportation, connecting point A to point B, but also a way to promote economic development and urban growth. Following his lecture, we had a lively discussion in which everyone had a chance to voice his or her views about Amtrak. It was a truly compelling moment as Fulbright-MTP participants were deeply engaged in the discussion with Charlie, and also exchanging opinions with each other about how millennials can play a role in shaping the future of Amtrak – as well as the future of cities and regions. As the marvelous Chicago skyline started to come into view, the fruitful discussion with Charlie ended.