The first 100 days on the job at the Institute of Texan Cultures have gone by in a flash. It seems like just yesterday we packed our cars and headed west on Interstate 10 from Houston, the place my husband and I had called home for 20-plus years. Over the past months, I’ve immersed myself in the day-to-day operations at the ITC and used my experience as a historian and researcher to learn as much as I can, not only about the museum and the people we serve, but about our new city. While I still have so much to learn, I have gained some important insights and valuable lessons in this short time:
San Antonio might be the most welcoming city in Texas. Having visited San Antonio in the past, I always knew it to be an incredibly hospitable place. As a new resident, I have learned that it is so much more. From my colleagues at the ITC and at UTSA to our new neighbors and people we meet at events and in and around the city, San Antonians have welcomed us with open arms. We have received many suggestions for new places to try or things to see that are uniquely San Antonio. It is clear that San Antonians love their city and want to make newcomers feel at home. This genuine kindness and warmth that has made the transition so much easier.
Breakfast tacos are perfection. I don’t want to start any arguments or be forced to name the best breakfast taco in town! But I will say that with the many wonderful offerings around the city, I am realizing that there may be no more perfect food than the breakfast taco. Whether trying a new spot on the weekend or grabbing one on the go between meetings, I’ve discovered that the breakfast taco is the ideal creation to fill my stomach and restore my soul. There are so many combinations and styles out there, and I am eager to give each and every one a try.
People care deeply about the ITC and its mission to celebrate the stories of the many people that make Texas unique. Coming into this role, I knew that stewarding this beloved institution was a huge responsibility. The ITC has a unique mission to honor the many cultures that have contributed to making Texas what it is today, and that takes the effort and support of many people to accomplish. Over the last three months, I have come to understand that on a much deeper level.
Working daily with our dedicated staff, I have learned that the ITC is propelled forward by a team of talented and creative people who take this mission to heart every day – creating educational programs, developing digital media content, and working directly with our visitors to ensure they learn something new when they visit. I’ve met with members of the community who tell me their stories of how the ITC is an important part of their own identity.
One of the most memorable events in my first 100 days was the docent appreciation luncheon, where we recognized our team of dedicated volunteers – some of whom have been doing this for more than 40 years! When I asked them, “What keeps you coming back?” the answers were similar: the love for engaging visitors, especially young people, and imparting the rich stories of our state. This passion expressed by staff, community members, and docents is central to who we are and what we do every day.
There is still so much to learn about this amazing organization and wonderful city, and I know I have only begun to scratch the surface. Reflecting on the last three months, I keep coming back to the people: the people I’m lucky to work with to take the ITC into its new chapter, the people who care about our future, and the people we have the privilege to serve. We are the ITC. YOU are the ITC.