This is my First Rodeo

jamie fry blog 1

Jamie Fry

1st Year MPH Epidemiology Student

In preparation for our trip to San Antonio, I am reflecting on my experiences working within my own community. Before coming to the University of Michigan last fall, I worked at my local health department for two years. I served our community as a COVID19 Case Investigator, interviewing folks who tested positive for COVID-19 to evaluate their health status, explain isolation protocol, and provide resources and support. This opportunity allowed me to speak with various people and perspectives. Some conversations were more challenging, requiring me to learn how to listen… pause… and respond with grace.

My experience was specific to Berrien County, a county in Southwest Michigan with a population of about 152,900. The population of the city of San Antonio is over nine times the population of my entire county, coming in at 1,451,853. Having never been to Texas, I am nervous about the population size and cultural differences. I was initially apprehensive, knowing recent legislation fought for and passed by Texas politicians that challenged my beliefs. However, I realize that only some in Texas support these policies. While unlearning my biases, I looked up fun facts about Texas. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The official state motto of Texas is "Friendship." The name Texas originates from the Native American (Caddo tribe) word tejas meaning "friends" or "allies."
  •  San Antonio averages over 220 days of sunshine annually, which can be enjoyed across its 130 miles of hike and bike trails and more than 16,000 acres of public park space.
  •  The state dish of Texas is Chili Con Carne (chili with meat) which was declared as such in 1977. One rule: no beans!
  • The state plant of Texas is the Prickly Pear Cactus. Prickly pear fruits are often made into jams, jellies, pies, and wine.
  • 1 out of every 6 San Antonio residents are employed in the biosciences and health industry.
  • The state sport of Texas is The Rodeo, which was declared as such in 1997. The year I was born!

I am excited to eat through San Antonio, from Chili Con Carne and Prickly Pear treats to Tex-Mex food trucks and burgers at Whataburger. Beyond exploring the food scene, I am interested in meeting Texans and learning from them. I expect to see differences in the community perception and attitudes toward COVID-19 there compared to my hometown. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned from my own experiences and education, but ultimately to learn more and be challenged by the community of San Antonio. This ~is~ my first rodeo, and I’m ready for the ride!