EL PASO – Employees at a children’s shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, found 12-year-old Noemi Alvarez Quillay’s lifeless body hanging from a shower-curtain rod last March. The Ecuadorian girl had been trying to cross the border to reach her parents in New York when police apprehended her. She is only one of thousands of unaccompanied children braving exhausting heat during the day, freezing winds throughout the night, gang violence and corrupt authorities during their arduous journey north to the U.S. border. For Alvarez, the perilous journey ended within sight of the bridge that connects the two countries, but for her that was one bridge too far. Mexican authorities ruled her death a suicide because she was in fear of being deported back to Ecuador.
EL PASO – There was a slight tremor in the hands. The arms were thin and pale, yet strong as they helped hold up and set up one of the lights at the factory. His thick and heavy eyeglasses sat lower than they were supposed to be. Judy Lee, 54, observed as her restless 77-year-old uncle, Dr. William Lee, descended from a high stool after changing a bright light bulb that reflected off his bald head. “Be careful uncle!” said Judy as the elderly man stepped down from the stool and kept himself busy working around the factory.
Editor’s note: this blog is part of a series of first person essays about identity written by UTEP honors students during the Spring 2013 semester.
The cold air penetrated the visible skin between my gloves and my jacket as I hurried up a long flight of stairs to catch the train to work in direction Alexanderplatz. My breath, warm and visible, was seeping through my scarf and mixing with the melting delicate snowflakes that were coming down from the heavens. It was a cold winter morning, typical Berlin. Once inside the train, I found a seat and rapidly put on my headphones to have “my 15-minute concert” of the usual British Rock bands that make me wish I had a similar accent so I could use words like “daft” or “trousers” and the occasional “Oi!” without people looking at me weird for having an American accent. Two stations away from my destination, a young couple with a child sat next to me.
EL PASO – Tuberculosis has for a long time been a serious but waning disease in the United States with less severe complications in the large majority of cases, while people in other countries suffer greatly and die from a lack of sanitation, medical resources and information about this illness. Even though this lethal infection is on the decline in the United States, it is still latent in more than one third of the world’s population. Mexico is one of the many other countries affected to a much greater degree. According to Professor Eva Moya, Ph.D., from the University of Texas at El Paso, although most people infected in the United States will recover from primary TB without further evidence of the disease, there are still deaths related to this disease. In 2011 there were more than 500 cases that resulted in deaths in he U.S. Unfortunately the number is much higher in Mexico where on average a Mexican man or woman dies from tuberculosis every six hours.
EL PASO – Blood dripped on the car seat as Frank Romero raced through traffic to reach the closest hospital. Three dogs had just viciously attacked his four-year-old son and the boy’s face, bleeding profusely, was unrecognizable. “They were family dogs, my brother-in-law’s dogs,” said his wife, Angie Romero, in disbelief. Romero’s brother was out of town and had asked him to feed his three Shar Pei/Pitbull mix dogs while he was gone. Romero had done this multiple times before and the dogs were already used to him being there.
EL PASO – The violence in Ciudad Juarez has had a huge impact in the cross-border area economy in recent years as businesses relocated here to become successful enterprises. The emigrating business owners, however, did not sever all ties to Juarez. The drug war and the climate of criminality it spawned took a huge toll on the Mexican economy, closing down businesses, chasing away clientele and most importantly stemming cash flow. This caused a large number of establishments to slash prices, cut jobs and eventually just close down. Many Mexican investors took a leap of faith and transferred their assets across the border to find a safe environment where their business would flourish.
EL PASO – An intoxicating yet intriguing aroma wafts through the restaurant and as the hissing sound of the grill catches the attention of the patrons, a plate leaves the kitchen and makes its way to a table, the spices and condiments with their bright colors alerting the onlookers that they are about to experience a true delicacy. In a city that is almost entirely dominated by the Tex-Mex cuisine, a few spots stand up against this “giant” in order to offer variety and culture to the Sun City. Some of these restaurants are Sinbad Restaurant located on the bustling and dynamic area of South Mesa street, offering its customers Middle Eastern cuisine; The Döner Kebab Shop situated close to Fort Bliss, presenting traditional as well as modern German fast food; and Zino’s Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine on the corner of Mesa and Resler, bringing authentic Greek food to the Texan west. What make these three choices stand out from the rest are not only their authentic and delicious dishes, or even their excellent service and readiness but their management. In May, 2002, UTEP PhD graduate Naser Yousif, opened Sinbad Restaurant, which is managed by him and his family in order to preserve the genuine flavor of his native Palestine.