Patricia WillerI had a great planning meeting this week with the Local Arrangements Team (LAT) in Houston. LAT co-chairs Rose Mary Valencia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Jin Zhang, University of Houston, have put together a fabulous local team. Their combination of Texas hospitality and NAFSA expertise will guarantee a great Texas experience. The LAT team is exceptionally well organized and very excited about hosting more than 8,000 NAFSAns when we gather at the annual conference in May.  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the recent blog postings they’ve put together:

They are planning many more blog posts, so I’m confident you’ll have everything you need to know about Texas and Houston before you leave for the conference. Whether you’re interested in day trips or cheap eats, the blog posts are a great way to get the full NAFSAn Texas experience.

During the meeting, we had the opportunity to tour the George R. Brown Convention Center and the space layout is terrific, perfect for NAFSA needs. The first level will hold the Expo Hall and it’s spacious enough to hold even more exhibitors than last year. Escalators provide easy access to Level 2, which will house Registration. Level 3 will contain all the meeting space for sessions, workshops, the knowledge community networking centers, and the plenary speaker auditoriums. It's all on one level and there will be no marathon walks to go from one place to another. There will be ample time to meet colleagues in the hallways, consult the schedule, and make it to the next session or meeting on time. If you want to get a preview of what to expect, you can take a virtual tour of the convention center.

All levels of the convention center overlook Houston's Discovery Green, a city park that will be overflowing with NAFSA folks once the conference begins. Be sure to be there for the opening celebration on Tuesday, May 29, featuring Ozomatli.

I look forward to seeing you in May!

Patricia Willer is the chair of the 2012 ACC. She is also associate vice president for international programs at the University of South Carolina. She has extensive experience in international education leadership, international student services, and education abroad. She is also an advocate for the need for campus collaboration in support of international education. Willer has presented extensively on international education issues. She received her master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Kansas.