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COVID and Houston

Zoe Parker

This week our focus of learning in the fellowship was to teach students about how COVID was specifically affecting the Houston community. We wanted them to critically think about the ways COVID was showing the strengths and vulnerabilities of their communities. The students got the chance to deeply reflect on how COVID has affected them personally. The fellowship team spent hours critically thinking about what does and doesn’t work for the students and aligning our activities with their needs. For example, although this week students were supposed to be talking about COVID we paused on Wednesday to allow them to workshop writing instead since that is what they expressed they needed most.

This week we taught the fellows how to use GIS to trace the impact of COVID19 in different census tracts. This geographical component was critical for their understanding of (1) where coronavirus is spreading and (2) the most vulnerable communities in this city. The conversation immediately sparked the fellows’ interest because the Harris County map we used also tracked additional information like race/ethnicity and age groups. There’s been a growing amount of journalism on Houston’s coronavirus response–specifically because the city has drastic economic (and racial) segregation. It was very exciting for the fellows to brainstorm how they could be part of that conversation.

We are half-way through our Community Conversations series! We have had so many amazing conversations, including this last week’s guest speaker with an essential worker in Houston. The Co-facilitators have made significant strides in being able to communicate across a wide audience, and holding conversations that bring power to the forefront of people’s minds. We are looking forward to the remaining weeks of Community Conversations!