|24 Sep 2020|
It started in 2008 when I moved from Singapore. That's aeons ago by your students' standards. It was tough at the start. For decades I had harboured doubts about my ability to absorb and adapt to certain aspects of life and culture in the US which I either don't understand or feel are not aligned with my own values and principles. I dug myself into a big hole by focusing on the negatives. It can be difficult to avoid them. Realizing it wasn't getting me anywhere healthy, I focused on the positives instead. Houston has much more to offer than might be imagined, but you have to dig down to find it. There is enormous cultural diversity here. There is a well-endowed formal arts and music scene backed by "old money" and presents works of the highest quality. I was spoiled during my college years in London, but imagine my surprise at being reconnected to this side of life in Houston, having wandered to all corners of the globe in the meantime. But there is also a huge arts underworld with all kinds of genres, and alternative theatre too. There are farmers' markets and community gardens tucked away. The food is amazing, reflecting the cultural diversity. It's not just Whoppers and Big Macs, although of course there's always that option. There are interest groups for every imaginable indoor or outdoor pursuit to suit all tastes, although, due to the constant flux of people they rise and fall in popularity, I belong to a hiking group which has seen its membership grow to20,000 since it started about 10 years ago.
Houston is known for its connections to the energy industry, but of greater relevance to current school leavers may well be the medical sciences. Medical sciences are absolutely huge here. Also huge is the geographical sprawl. Public transport systems exist, but this is the town of the private car. Forget cycling as a means of transport for anything except really local trips or out-of-town recreation. People grumble about the heat and humidity, but personally I don't find it as oppressive as is commonly made out.
Houston has served me well, but the pandemic has now brought my formal working career to its conclusion.
I have only returned once to Ipswich School in the last 50 years. It was a fantastic occasion when I was supposed to reconnect with my peers but I clearly remember spending much more of my time telling stories to the current scholars of a life of globetrotting sponsored by my career. There is so much to share on that front.
Colin Nelson (1956-68)
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