beth's summer with the distributed mentor program
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Ok, face it. College Station, Texas, isn't the most exotic or exciting place in the world. It's particularly not very exotic and exciting after you've spent the past summer wandering around Australia doing human rights work. However, after the initial panic at spending three months in the middle of Texas wore off, I became determined that I was going to find exotic and exciting things to do in Texas even if it killed me.

What, then, did I do? A little bit of everything, I guess. Here you'll find a photographic record of my various attempts to have fun and keep busy in this facinating place they call "Texas."


One weekend, I took off to LA for a debriefing session with my fellow Amnesty International USA Patrick Stewart Scholars. I presented about my work in Australia on Aboriginal Rights and learned about the various human rights projects that everyone else did. Mr. Stewart even graciously attended the gathering to hear about our work. During the entire weekend I was utterly humbled to be in the presence of such amazing, dedicated young human rights activists. It was quite an inspiring weekend.

Patrick Stewart and the 2000 Patrick Stewart Scholars at our debriefing session in LA. Me and Patrick Stewart


One weekend, I decided to skip town and head down to Houston. There, I payed a visit to the creatures at the Houston Zoo. The zoo was pretty good. It housed quite a range of animals and most of them were fairly active. The zoo also had a "pet-the-animals" event during the I got to pet everything from a big ole tortoise to several types of snake. It was definitely a good day.

I petted a goat at the zoo! The anteaters were quite exciting.


Since the Houston Zoo hadn't failed to impress, I decided to go back to Houston and check out the museum scene (I love museums). So, I jumped in my Subaru Outback (which Texans seem to like to laugh at) and headed down to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was suprisingly good. It had quite a nice collection of contemporary craft and textile/fiber art. Unfortunately, the gallery was so big that I only got to see 3/4ths of the contemporary art wing and had to skip the wing devoted to traditional art all together. However, rest assured that I will return.

The contemporary wing at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The classical art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Seeing all the Greek and Roman art makes me feel guilty about slacking on my summer Greek and Latin. Yikes.

The inside of the contemporary art wing. I fell in love with the circular rock sculptures.


Since I had already seen Houston, I decided the next logical thing to do would be to see Austin. So, once more, I jumped in the Outback and drove west on 21. Although the day was incredibly hot, I spent my time wandering around the Zilker Botanical Gardens and the nearby nature trails. Both were absolutely fantastic. Next time, however, I think I'll wear shorts. I also managed to pay a visit to a local fantasy gaming store called Dragon's Lair when I was in town, and picked up some exciting new miniatures.

The view of the city from the edge of the gardens. Very pretty, no?

The gardens had a lovely Japanese garden, complete with waterlilies. There was actually supposed to be a dragonfly in this picture, but it must have buzzed off before I took the shot.


Being the food snob that I am, I quickly became a "big burrito" conoisseur. The big burrito is a Western phenomenom that is, according to the New York Times, slowly making an appearance on the East Coast. My big burrito repetoire consists of Big City Burrito (Fort Collins, CO), Chipotle (West Coast/Mid-West chain), La Salsa (West Coast chain), Baja Fresh (West Coast chain) and the local College Station joint, FreeBirds World Burrito (also in Houston and Austin). I became quite enamoured with FreeBirds during my stay in Texas, although I still remain loyal to Big City Burrito for my big burrito cravings.

A FreeBirds burrito. Specifications: regular vegetarian, wheat tortilla, habenaro sauce, sliced avocado.

Beth versus the big burrito. Who will survive?