Her own struggle helps former foster child guide similar students through crisis situations

EL PASO — Once a foster child herself, Jessica Archuleta now helps former foster children achieve their goals of stability and higher education. “Living through the foster care system didn’t define me. It didn’t get me where I was today,” said Archuleta, now an outreach specialist in the Foster, Homeless and Adopted Resource (FHAR) program at the University of Texas at El Paso. “It was my own experiences in life and how I dealt with them. Realizing that helped me realize I wanted to help other people in their experiences and give them a positive outlook.” Archuleta says she and her brother were placed in child crisis centers more than 20 times.

Mike Mitchell’s Beatles photos tell a tale of 50 years of friendship

When the hammer went down, Mike Mitchell’s backlit group photo of the Beatles at their first U.S. concert sold for $68,500. All 46 of the images he shot in 1964 when he was 18 years old sold at Christie’s New York City auction-house for $362,000 last week. It was an emotional moment for my family and me. Mike has been my close friend since I arrived in the U.S. in 1958 and photography in a way has been at the heart of our friendship for more than 50 years. I was largely ignored when I arrived at John Hansen Junior High School in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Oxon Hill, Maryland, from tropical Costa Rica in midwinter, but snickered at when I wore my J.C. Penney’s car-coat in class.  When Mrs. Phillips said that a sock-hop was scheduled for a Friday the class broke up in a laughter uproar after I asked in my perfect schoolbook English,  “What is a sock-hop?” No wonder Mike didn’t speak to me until the last day of school when some of us brought cameras to class.

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue

Teaching and Learning and Caring Blog

EL PASO — Last week I was reminded of my first watercolor class. Hilda Rosenfeld painted exquisite flowers and was my teacher in a continuing education class at UTEP. Our first assignment was to make twelve squares on a piece of paper and use a tube of ultramarine blue paint to make each square lighter than the last. My first thought was how unexciting this exercise would be. At the end we would have twelve squares ranging from pure pigment to barely a hint of color.

The 9/11generation 10 years later

EL PASO — I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school when terrorists hijacked two commercial passenger jet airliners crashing them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and another one into the Pentagon right outside Washington, D.C.

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when that tragedy occurred almost 10 years ago. My mom was dropping me off at school when the radio station we were listening to was suddenly interrupted by an emergency news broadcast. They had just received word that an airplane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I was shocked and saddened because obviously I knew people had died, but what I did not know was how many more lives were about to be taken and how much devastation we were about to endure as individuals and as a nation. As I headed towards my homeroom class ready to watch Channel 1 News, as we always did every morning, most of us knew what had just happened.

Zen Telegrams

Teaching and Learning and Caring Blog

EL PASO — It started at the dinner table. It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays were a “try a new recipe or fancy up an old one, invite people over, and sit down at the dining room table, light the candles” ritual.  Josie, Raymundo, and Yolanda were there. My daughter asked us to choose a book to take with us into a post-apocalyptic world or to the proverbial desert island where we would be stranded and alone for an unknown length of time, perhaps forever. I remember only my own answer to the question.

‘TENNder Care’ ofrece atención médica a niños sin seguro

Traducido por Austin Johnson

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Aunque la asistencia médica gratuita está disponible para todos los niños, los niños hispanos son los que menos probabilidades tienen de recibirla en los Estados Unidos. Una razón podría ser que tienden a ser más sanos, pero también podría ser que la barrera idiomática y la falta de transporte llevan a los padres que no hablan inglés a evitar las salas de espera en las clínicas. Los dos niños de Juanita Luevanos, nacidos en los Estados Unidos, cumplen con los requisitos para recibir “TENNderCare”, un plan de seguro médico financiado por el estado para niños menores de veintidós años. El programa provee chequeos médicos, inmunizaciones, consultas en los hospitales, y asistencia especializada, entre otros servicios.

ESL classes offer support and community

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The bell rings. Science Hill High School students crowd the hallways. Among them, five international students head to English as a Second Language class, where they learn American culture, improve their reading and writing skills and get support for other courses. Wilber, a ninth-grader with a big smile and an even bigger personality, is one of five students in the second-period class.

Niños aprenden español en casa

Traducido por Haley Wainwright

Read this story in English

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Es la hora de aprender español para esta familia de habla inglesa. Ejercicios tales como libros y juegos de cartas mejoran sus conocimientos del español. Dos niños de la familia Childress asisten a la escuela primaria de “Northside” en Johnson City. Susana está en el kinder, y Elliott está en el cuarto grado.

‘Even Start’ brings literacy home

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Every morning as Mayne Beceria gets ready for school, so does her young daughter Melanie. Too young for kindergarten, the dark-haired, giggly girl goes to a special school — Johnson City Even Start. “Oh, Mommy. Let’s go to my school, Melanie’s school!” Melanie tells her mother.

Saving Luis Jimenez’ gators — El Pasoans won’t let go of a beloved city centerpiece

EL PASO — Downtown El Paso could soon lose one of its most beloved landmarks, created by one of the city’s most famous artists if a plan to renovate San Jacinto Plaza is approved and funded by the city council. Luis Jimenez’s fiberglass sculpture, “Los Lagartos” has stood at the center of the plaza since 1995, would be replaced by shrubbery trimmed in the shape of alligators in the renovation plans donated by Mills Plaza Properties, owned by prominent El Paso businessman Paul Foster. El Paso art historian Miguel Juarez is spearheading the movement to keep the statue in the city’s plans. “The alligators are the soul of El Paso,” Juarez said. “Historically the plaza was a meeting place.

Children learn Spanish at home

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Karen Childress plays UNO with her two youngest children at the kitchen table, while her eldest son reads a book. The little ones shout out the colors and numbers, drowning out the sound of their brother slowly but correctly pronouncing each syllable on the page. It is Spanish time for this English-speaking family. Exercises like card games and books sharpen their knowledge of the Spanish language.

‘TENNderCare’ offers health care for uninsured children

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Although free health care is available to all children, Hispanics are the least likely of all children in the United States to receive it. One reason may be that they tend to be healthier. But another could be that language barriers and lack of transportation lead parents who don’t speak English to avoid waiting rooms.

Juanita Luevanos’ two children, who were born in the United States, qualified for TENNderCare, a state-funded health care plan for children 21 and younger that provides physicals, immunizations, hospital visits, specialty care and more. The program offers a free checkup each year for children ages 3 to 20.

Quinceañera – A young girl takes her first steps into womanhood

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Under the wooden rafters of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville, Tenn., a young girl walks slowly up the aisle on the way to her womanhood. She is flanked by her mother and stepfather, and she follows a procession of young ladies in slim red dresses and gentlemen in white Navy officer’s uniforms. Her dress is bright red and voluminous. A silver tiara sits atop her head. Her name is Leslie, and today is her day; today is her quinceañera.

Reclaim the right to be curious … and learn something

Teaching and Learning and Caring Blog

EL PASO — If curiosity killed the cat, then I am a monkey’s uncle. This sentence implies that I would be surprised and somewhat foolish (monkey’s uncle) to believe that curiosity kills cats … or people. There are some dark sorts of curiosity that could conceivably get a person killed, but as a society, we consider both garden variety curiosity and foolishness as weeds and do our best to eradicate them in children. At least one of my course syllabi listed as a learning objective “to reclaim the curiosity of a five-year-old.” Five- year-olds have mastered the language enough to want to master the mysteries of the universe, but no one wants to help them. “Why is the sky blue?” “Because I said.” Why do some people have brown eyes and some have blue eyes?” “Why do dogs bark and cats meow?” “Do storks bring babies?” “Shh.

Relevance leads to an internship epiphany in the neon desert

EL PASO — The music festival was a living, breathing organism of 11,000 blurry faces, bright lights and loud sounds. Walking through the darkness and seeing the excitement of people dancing frantically to their favorite artists made me understand that we all shared the same mutual amazement for the present. And I had helped to make it happen. Two months earlier, I had received one of these so called “suggested student opportunities” messages via email. I needed an internship I could care about and Splendid Sun Productions wanted interns to help put on a music and arts festival entitled Neon Desert Music Festival on April 30th, 2011.

Treasure hunting in thrift shops for unique value and priceless memories

EL PASO — I have found amazing valuables while thrift shopping that will probably remain with me forever. Some of those have been a vintage monogram Louis Vuitton tote from The Label Exchange, another time I found a classic empire waist dress from Vintage Mode, and I found an awesome flower print clutch when I stumbled into a garage sale in Tokyo once. These are the items I treasure the most. The ones I find while traveling because they also bring fun memories along. I think I started thrift shopping when I was 12 or 13.

Me gradúo y ahora… ¡Todo!

EL PASO — Hace unos días platicaba con un amigo sobre mis sentimientos de incertidumbre hacia el futuro fuera de la universidad. Le comentaba como, de cierta forma, me arrepentía de haber tomado cinco clases por semestre, clases de verano, cursos extras, y demás por lo cual me comentó, “Es carrera, no carreritas.” Me quedé boquiabierta y comprendí que tenía razón. Como quisiera haber escuchado tal refrán hace cuatro años. Entusiasmada por la vida universitaria, estudié más que nunca. Desde el primer día me dediqué a mis clases al cien por ciento, sentía que me podía comer el mundo entero.

Don’t let internship opportunities pass you by

EL PASO – As I start my senior year this summer studying multimedia journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), I realized I had to take a bigger step toward acquiring that experience we are constantly told we need. That is, building my resume even more by obtaining an internship. By the end of Fall 2010 semester, I had already sent all of my applications to several newsrooms across the country and to my surprise, I got a phone call from Washington D.C. It turned out I was one of the finalists to be selected as an intern for The Hispanic Link. I interviewed with Charlie Ericksen and he told me to wait for a phone call as they would notify me in several weeks that if I would be the chosen intern. I never got that call.

Taking the canvas out of the frame

EL PASO — I belong to art and photography groups in El Paso and a couple are non-profit organizations. In one, I serve on the Board of Managers. The President of that association was looking to change the style of leadership that had been used. The President empowered the Board saying take charge of your responsibilities, think outside the box, if you need assistance let me know. How did I become involved?

ServeSa: Bringing hope to San Antonio’s refugees from across the globe

SAN ANTONIO — After seeing a video online of struggling refugees in need of assistance to assimilate into the San Antonio area where that they have been relocated, Emmanuel Roldan decided to jump in and do something. Roldan, 22 and a full-time student, decided to start an organization, ServeSA, to aid refugees and immigrants of limited means who need help adapting to life in this Southwest U.S. city. “Our main focus is to really empower individuals and different organizations to serve the community they are located in,” Roldan said. When the organization launched in January of 2010, mainly worked with homeless individuals. But after it opened a center, Haven for Hope, in May of last year, its primary focus shifted from the homeless to refugees.

Juárez journalists win the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award by exposing the epidemic of violence and fear brought on by the drug war

EL PASO – Juárez journalists, Rocío Idalia Gallegos Rodríguez and Sandra Rodríguez Nieto, were awarded the 2011 Knight International Journalism Award last week for their investigative work on El Diario De Juárez, in the world’s most violent city. The award symbolizes a “valuable recognition” of the work of journalists in Ciudad Juárez, Rodríguez said. She hopes that it also will change the commonly believed notion that Mexican reporters on the border have been silenced by the lawlessness in the embattled city. Joyce Barnathan, president of the International Center for Journalism said, “These extraordinary journalists dare to tell stories that few have the courage to address. Because of them, we have an essential understanding of the tragedies faced by citizens in México.”

Rodríguez’ and Gallegos’ investigative reporting has done much to expose corrupt government officials and the ruthless drug cartels battling for control in Juárez and other parts of México.

El Paso cyclists respond to city bike ordinance

El Paso cyclists respond to city bike ordinance


(Soundbite of chains whirring)

BEATRIZ CASTAÑEDA (Reporter): It’s not often that you see cyclists in the car-centric city of El Paso. That’s not to say that El Pasoans haven’t tried to nurture different cycling groups. Groups like the Cycling Club of El Paso and the Miner Cycling Club. But that’s about to change. The city of El Paso recently passed an ordinance allowing the addition of bike lanes.

My semester of protest for César Chávez

EL PASO — The spring 2011 semester at the University of Texas at El Paso is one that should live on in the hearts and minds of the people who experienced it, for their entire lives. It began with a simple exclamation by the president of the Student Government. César Chávez Day would no longer be celebrated on this campus in order to better facilitate the Campus’ schedule. This led to a series of student protests that culminated with Pete Duarte, CEO of Thomason Hospital and former director of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, returning his Golden Nugget alumni award to protest the holiday’s loss. As this semester rolled along, I had many opportunities to explore the significance of César Chávez Day.

Tackling the pounds—Changes in state policy fight student obesity

EL PASO — Not too many years ago, students eagerly awaited the bell that signals lunchtime, anticipating french fries, a can of Pepsi, and a chocolate chip cookie. Now, however, those same students have been challenged to abandon some of the junk foods they crave. In 2007, revisions were made to the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy to create a weapon to battle obesity in children. Texas public high schools have had to start abiding by laws that mandate healthier lunch foods, as well as changing vending machine products on their campuses. “Our snack bars are all run by the district cafeterias and have to abide by the changes in the law,” says Dr. Carla Gonzales, Chapin High School Principal.

Dressed for Success

Teaching and Learning and Caring Blog

EL PASO — I began thinking about how people dressed and how much money they had when I lived in East Oakland.  I kept thinking about it for many more years. I lived in East Oakland for about a year with a husband who just returned from Vietnam and had some months left to serve at the Oakland Induction Center, least favorite hangout of young men in northern California at the time. The neighborhood we lived in was almost as crazy and rough. On Sundays I swept condoms and hypodermic needles from the sidewalk. Sly and the Family Stone practiced until all hours within earshot, and a badass motorcycle gang roared up and down east 14th.

Diabetes affects thousands in El Paso, but the Diabetes Association is on their side

EL PASO — Health is an issue people push aside until it finally becomes an issue and the main health issue in this border city is diabetes. El Paso has long been considered one of the unhealthiest cities in the entire country, ranking as high as number one in obesity by Men’s Fitness magazine in 2009. Diabetes is at the forefront of chronic ailments here and obesity is one of many risk factors for this disease. Ethnicity also plays a role. Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are at higher risk.