All Over Texas, All Over the World, and Back Home Again
The Texas Story Project.
Frost’s Texas story takes us all over Texas.
Christopher Frost, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at St. Mary's University, was born in Weatherford, Texas, but moved to Falfurrias, Texas where he lived for the first seven years of his life. Dean Frost recalls Falfurrias as the major setting of his childhood, because the time he spent there far exceeded that of all his other Texas homes. He was the son of two educators and brother to four other siblings.
Between the age of seven and eighteen, he moved from Falfurrias to Alpine, Texas, from Alpine to Weslaco, Texas, from Weslaco to Georgetown, Texas, where he graduated from high school, and then finally to Waco, Texas, where he did his undergraduate studies at Baylor University (after a stint at the U.S. Naval Academy). When Dean Frost thinks about his childhood, Falfurrias seems to be the setting his memory favors. He remembers the Rio Grande Valley as a place where he could just be a kid, spend his summers playing sports, and enjoy being a part of the community.
Eventually though, he left Texas to complete his graduate degree at Boston University, where he spent the next six years. Since then, he has lived and taught in Morocco, Romania, California, and New York. However, his Texas story is far from over. He recently made his way back to Texas a year and a half ago when he took the position of the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at St. Mary’s University.
On his way back to Texas, Dean Frost realized that, ironically, it was because he grew up in Texas that he was able to live and teach all over the world. Texas is such a big state that different regions develop different economic profiles and give rise to distinctive cultures. Hopscotching from one Texas region to another taught Dean Frost that there was no “one way” of anything, whether that be one place to live, one way to be, or one way to worship. The period that Dean Frost spent in Falfurrias was especially impactful, given that he was there during the ages that include developing rapidly and being influenced easily. He described the Valley as a “real melting pot” and “diverse in every sense of the term.” It’s because he experienced this diversity during childhood that he was able to expand his horizons later in life.
Dean Frost compared his early life to his fascination with the original Star Trek series, which premiered in 1966, his “Weslaco years.” His life has been like “Star Trek,” where the characters venture to a different planet every episode, and in doing so they encounter a different culture. In the show, there would often be misunderstandings between cultures because they were so different, and yet somewhere along the middle of the episode they would learn something new about each other. This theme resonated with Dean Frost’s life, because he had to learn early on that “people inhabit different worlds, even though they are on the same planet earth.” By going into the social sciences, Dean Frost explored these differences, along with the question of how people from the same planet could live in such different worlds. And similar to a “Star Trek” theme, Dean Frost believes that “you don’t have to die where you were born.” His sense of freedom has allowed him to live anyplace he chooses, but the only way he is able to make that decision is because he’s experienced different ways of living from all over this state—and all over the world.
The impact of learning from all the cultures Dean Frost lived in can be seen in his work. As part of being intentional about life, Dean Frost has reinterpreted how being a diverse Texan has defined him. Dean Frost was, early on, attuned to trying different ways of living and believing. As an educator, he approached education not as “let me tell you what you need to know,” but rather “let me tell you about some areas to explore.” He ends by empowering the next generation to make our own journeys, saying: “It will only be worthwhile if you do the exploring.”
Eric Delgado is a freshman at St. Mary’s University. He’s double majoring in psychology and philosophy with the ambition of becoming a psychotherapist/psychoanalyst. Eric is from Brownsville, Texas, so he was naturally inclined towards writing about the border and border life.
Posted November 13, 2018