After returning from Denver, I thought I would share my top 10 lessons as a first time delegate for all those who have never been to a Convention and may be inspired to go to one in the future. It would have made my life a bit easier to know these things beforehand, so in the spirit of sharing and prevention, here they are:
1. Being a delegate is expensive. Ramon Soto, a pledged Hillary delegate, and myself were fortunate to have had the community throw us a fundraiser to help cover the cost. If the hotel is far away from where the action is (as ours was) then be prepared for high transportation costs and difficulty in getting cabs.
2. Bring an extra bag for gifts for friends. You will be tempted to buy buttons, t-shirts, hats, posters but the best thing you can bring back are all the great signs they give you while on the floor of the convention to show while the speakers are talking.
3. Wear sandals (or bring a pair in a bag). You will be walking and walking and walking all day long – and night. We learned that the hard way on the first night.
4. Bring healthy snacks – especially if hot dogs, nachos and pizza every night is not for you.
5. Make a master calendar BEFORE you get there, if not you may find yourself overwhelmed with decisions on what to do and where to go. It’ll make you mad with confusion. Take it from me.
6. Watch the news on TV for the spin – you will often experience what is going on differently than how it is spun on the news. I couldn’t believe how the news was so far off from reality sometimes, especially the first night of the convention.
7. Prepare yourself for 3 – 4 hours of sleep a night. This is especially true for those who are party animals yet do not want to miss the great breakfast program. Just know that everyone will be just as cranky as you in the morning.
8. Get a map of the city or you will find yourself in the same spot you started at after walking for an hour. Since many of the police officers were not from Denver, they were not very helpful in giving directions (although they were extremely nice, which was actually refreshing).
9. Don’t miss the bus or you’ll be stuck in a parking lot, cold and hungry waiting for the next one for two hours. Not fun.
10. Network, network, network – build relationships that you can use back home, especially with those elected officials. I think Representative Marty Walsh and I found a solution to redistricting while we waited for the bus at that parking lot (see number 9).
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