I am writing this on the bus to my first day at Dowling Middle School in Houston, where I will be working for the next 5 weeks in Institute. Houston is beautiful. So green, so big, so diverse! The Rice campus is very nice, and I was assigned a roomy single. Our morning routine is very organized, and I am really enjoying waking up with a sense of purpose with several tasks to take care of right away starting at 6AM. Quite a difference from college, when I would usually wake up around 5 minutes before having to be somewhere and haphazardly scramble to get out the door at 10AM! It feels like being in a military environment, and because of that, I would eventually like to push back on that, but for now I feel like it works for me.
Here is what my morning routine looks like:
6AM – Alarm goes off. Say modah ani, grab suit that I pre-folded on top of dresser the night before, get dressed.
6:05AM – Wash up, brush teeth, etc.
6:10AM – Grab backpack that has been pre-packed, grab lunch box and canteen that we were given for institute, double check that I have everything ready to go. Today I forgot my lunchbox, so I had to run up and get it!
6:15AM – Walk to dining hall, where rows of tables have been set up with color-coded food items. Corps members take 1 entree, 1 side, 3 snacks, and fill their water canteens. As for having access to Kosher food, they weren’t as prepared as I thought they would be to accommodate my needs, but they promised to work with me in the future, and seem very earnest and eager to help me out! For today I just skipped the main entree, grabbed a siide green salad, hechshered dressing, an orange, a hechshered fruit cup and cookies, and a can of Coke. After assembling my daily lunch box, I went into the breakfast hall, which is set up like a typical cafeteria buffet (except there are no trays). There is luckily some kosher granola and yogurt, so I grabbed that and made a parfait of sorts – I’ll add some cut fruit next time. There is also a chaotic line around the coffee line and the canteen filling stations, so I prioritized coffee, knowing that I could just fill up my water canteen once I got to the site. This is the first time in a while that I haven’t been able to just make Turkish coffee from my own stove in my typical relaxed, lazy morning ritual, but I rolled with the good ol’ American cup o’ joe and headed out the door!
6:30AM – Go to the makeshift mess hall, sit down and eat. This was the first time that I looked down at the clock, and I was kind of disappointed that it took me half an hour to get through the line, but hopefully I can shave 5-10 minutes off my routine in the next week. People were understandably rushed, but friendly.
6:50AM – Put breakfast away.
6:55AM – Arrive at bus station.
7:05AM – Depart for Dowling Middle (except the bus was late, so we had to wait out in the muggy Houston morning for around 15 more minutes).
Anyways, it looks like we’re getting close to the teaching site, so I’ll update this tomorrow with more on what this experience is shaping out to look like!
Oh P.S. I am hoping to cut out chips and soda from my diet within the next few weeks. I want to seize upon the opportunity that not having access to much kosher food has given me to start eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and to model healthy life choices for my students. When stuck in a situation like this where I can’t rely on getting a meal and have to go somewhere in a rush, it is really easy to fall back on snack foods. However, in order to stick to my goal I will need to quit consuming so much fat and sugar every day!