When I first arrived at the University of Michigan, I never thought I would venture down to Houston for an extended period of time. I am glad that I have been able to experience Houston and its surrounding areas. Houston and its metropolitan area is very interesting. It is VERY car dependent, and some of the highway infrastructure is breathtaking and intimidating at the same time (I have spent a good amount of time driving on them as part of my internship). During my first full week at my internship, I attended a Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Luncheon (Fort Bend is one of the counties of Greater Houston). The keynote speaker was Professor Stephen L. Klineberg, Founding Director of the Kinder Institute of Rice University. He spoke how some of the counties of the Greater Houston Area, such as Harris County and especially Fort Bend county, are amongst the most racially diverse parts of the United States. On top of that, Houston (already the 4th largest city in the United States) is growing at a fast rate, and may eventually overtake Chicago as the country’s 3rd largest city.
What are the next best steps to develop transportation infrastructure for the growing city (should the city invest more in public mass transit options instead of more highways/tollways)? How can Houston effectively and fairly educate its populace when communities are very socioeconomically segregated? What should Houston do in response to its growing population of immigrants (will it be adversarial or will it embrace immigration)? The talk really reaffirmed my commitment to CollegeCommunityCareer‘s mission. I hope to leave Houston having both enjoyed the city and made it a better place (albeit on a rather small scale). My time here has also made me much more of a morning person (we will see how long that lasts when I get back to Ann Arbor).