It's a pleasure for NAFSA to introduce Janel Lockwood, Local Arrangements Team communications chair for the 2012 NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo in Houston, Texas. Janel's expertise about Houston will provide you with an insider's look into what the city has to offer. Over the next few months, Janel and her team will be sharing some of Houston's highlights to help you plan your visit. Enjoy their stories, listen to their advice, and post questions to the blog as you prepare for NAFSA's annual conference.

Hello everyone! We are looking forward to you coming to Houston, Texas, for NAFSA's annual conference in 2012. Houston, the United States' fourth largest city, was named after the president of the former republic of Texas, Sam Houston. (For all you history buffs, I recommend checking out It's located near the Gulf of Mexico and is 165 miles (265 km) from Austin, the capital of Texas. Houston has 2.3 million residents.

Houston is known for a wide range of business and industries, including NASA's Johnson Space Center (if you have the time, I highly encourage you to plan a side trip to Space Center Houston), the Texas Medical Center, higher education institutions (many of which will be offering preconference tours as part of the conference), and a busy sea port. Houston's array of businesses attracts a diverse population, making it difficult to find a Houstonian who was actually born here. Although Texas is known as the Lone Star state, its southern hospitality won't make you feel lonely!

What do you envision Houston looking like?
If you're waiting for tumbleweeds to pass by your side as you are standing in downtown Houston, you‘ll be waiting for a while! Like most major U.S. cities, Houston has an urban downtown area with surrounding suburbs. Because Houston has no zoning restrictions, it is possible you could find a manufacturing plant next to a neighborhood. This makes for an interesting car ride around town!

Excited about the weather?
It is likely that you won't need to pack your spring jackets or rain coats as the temperature will range from 70°-90°F (21.1°-32.2°C) throughout the day and night. Don't worry, you will miss the hottest part of the summer, which is during July and August when it reaches over 100°F (37.8°C). If you are coming in early or able to stay longer, I recommend that you take advantage of the weather and spend some time relaxing by your hotel's pool or visit Galveston, Texas. Galveston is located in the Gulf of Mexico and is the closest beach to Houston.

There are so many different things that you can do while you are in Houston so I recommend that you plan ahead. One great resource is the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. It has great information on restaurants, museums, and nightlife as well as an Insider's Guide.

Did you know?

  • Houston is home to the largest concentration of physicians, scientists, researchers, and other advanced-degree professionals in the life sciences.
  • "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon.
  • Houston is made up of 634 square miles. In other words, New York City, Washington, DC, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Miami could all fit inside its boundaries!
  • More than 80 languages are spoken here.
  • (This information was gathered from

If you've visited Houston or live in or around the city, what would you say are some of the highlights? For those of you who have not been to Houston, what topics would you like us to cover in future posts as you prepare for the NAFSA conference?

This blog post is the first in a series of many that will expose you to perspectives from NAFSAns on Houston and Texas such as Texan culture, day trips, restaurants, shopping, etc. Our team of bloggers includes: Todd Patterson (ELS), Mark Powell (coordinator of NAFSA's Technology Fair), Toni Rico (University of Houston-Clear Lake), and myself. We look forward to introducing you to Houston and want to help you make the most of your time before, during, and after the conference.

Janel Lockwood is the Local Arrangements Committee (LAT) communications chair for NAFSA's 2012 Annual Conference & Expo. Janel began her career in international education at Old Dominion University. There she completed an internship at the United States-India Educational Foundation in New Delhi, India, and was awarded Outstanding Graduate Student in the Higher Education Administration. She has been working in the field of international education for seven years and is an international student adviser at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Janel is pursuing a doctorate of education at Lamar University. She has been living in Houston for two years and enjoys the city's diversity.