Juan Garcia Aleman, 87, said that he passed his U.S. citizenship exam 10 years ago only after he was allowed to take the test in Spanish because he was over the age of 50 and had lived in the U.S. over 20 years. (Velia Quiroz/Borderzine.com)

Language barriers still stop many Latinos from seeking better jobs and U.S citizenship

EL PASO — When Juan García Aleman, an 87-year-old retired shoemaker who worked for the boot-making Tony Lama Company for 20 years moved here from Juarez in the 1950’s he didn’t need to speak or read English in the workplace. Jesus Saucedo, a 29-year-old who was born in California but went to Mexico with his parents at age three, now lives here and struggles as a community college student with limited knowledge of English. He says he has difficulty communicating effectively at his fast-food job and is hesitant to pursue a leadership position. Their personal stories, different in many ways, are connected because of the language barriers they faced as residents of a border city that is predominately Hispanic and bilingual. For example, U.S. Census statistics from 2010 show that 75 percent of El Pasoans speak Spanish at home, and only 24 percent of the city’s 700,000 resident are monolingual speakers of English.

Engineering Professor Roger V. Gonzalez graduated from UTEP. (Velia Quiroz/Borderzine.com)

UTEP professor recognized for international work providing affordable prosthetic limbs to amputees

EL PASO – Roger V. Gonzalez has been to every continent except Antarctica in the last 30 years. He has traveled through almost 30 countries and 48 states of the union. Although he has seen most of the world and experienced many cultures, he says he’s been most affected by encounters with hundreds of men, women, and children with missing limbs because of poor health or accidents that have led to amputations. “It’s really hard to see those who are disabled,” said Gonzalez, 50, a UTEP engineering professor who recently was nominated as Global Humanitarian Engineer of the year. He is also the founder of LIMBS International, a nonprofit founded about 10 years ago that offers affordable prosthetic solutions to amputees around the world.

A veg-out sandwich from Einstein Brothers. (Velia Quiroz/Borderzine.com)

If I wouldn’t eat my Schnauzer, why would I eat meat? Trials of a borderland vegetarian

EL PASO – Five years ago I decided to add one more attribute to my repertoire – vegetarian. I decided to make the change and see if I could stick with it, and I haven’t looked back. I gave up red meat and fish first and then, about two years ago, I was able to eliminate chicken too. I began researching vegetarianism after I read a quote somewhere that said something like, “if you wouldn’t eat your dog, why eat a pig?”

I thought about it and researched a little more, considering that I have a Schnauzer named Paris who I wouldn’t eat. I found out that pigs are smarter than dogs and even three-year-old toddlers.

El Pasoan Iliana Guzman with her son Sergio Pedroza, 15, at their animal shelter in Chaparral, NM. (Velia Quiroz/Borderzine.com)

Paralegal’s love for animals changes lives

CHAPARRAL, NM – An animal lover since she was a child, El Pasoan Iliana Guzman now devotes her free time to the care of homeless animals. The 34-year-old paralegal last year opened her very own animal shelter, a long time dream, and now cares for nearly 100 dogs and cats on her one-and-a-half acre parcel of land in Chaparral, New Mexico. Recently, she rescued several dozen animals that had been removed from their owner because of hoarding. Prior to opening Enchanted Pass Animal Rescue, Guzman would always take abandoned animals into her home and then rehabilitate them until she could find suitable owners. Although the last year has been a busy time for Guzman and her four children, who also help with the care of the animals, “it’s worth it in the end,” she says.