La enseñanza del inglés en Juárez mantiene un escaso nivel de aprendizaje entre estudiantes universitarios

CD. JUAREZ — “Hello, my name is Alicia”. Esa expresión, junto con los nombres de los números y colores, fue lo único que Alicia Contreras Vargas logró aprender mientras cursó la secundaria. En retrospectiva, la hoy estudiante universitaria recuerda que sus clases de inglés simplemente “no tenían chiste”. Al igual que Contreras Vargas, un gran número de estudiantes en Ciudad Juárez reconocen el bajo nivel de aprendizaje logrado a lo largo de tres o más años de recibir cursos de ese idioma, pero no saben explicarse del todo las causas de ese déficit.

Annual hoops tournament draws special needs players and approving fans

EL PASO — On an April weekend a local high school gym was full of energy and excitement as a group of adults with special needs prepared to participate in a basketball tournament.The games were attended by members of local community centers and a crowd of some 200 fans roaring encouragement to motivate the teams to victory.Participants are in a government funded program, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which allows persons with disabilities to participate and promotes healthy lifestyles that include cultural and social activities. The Multipurpose CDBG Strikers is a group of special needs students who created a team as a part of the Special Olympics.The team is coached by Edward Gonzales. Participants with the local recreation center prepared for their first game of the tournament with smiles and determination.Two teams from that center were able to participate and enjoy an awards ceremony after their tournament games at the recreation center.”I’ve coached other teams before and it’s not so much that you’re helping them out but I personally like the challenge,” said Gonzalez, “I like the idea of doing something different and helping them excel considering their disabilities if I can make them just a little bit better mentally and physically thats what I like.”Tanya Guzman a player on the Strikers team said that the coaching staff “is into it; they worked us hard; we had a good exercise.”Gonzalez said early on it was tough for him to coach the disabled young adults. “Initially, the parents didn’t seem to take it seriously and after they saw me yelling at their kids almost every practice they realized how serious we were and they jumped on board and the support turned out to be very good.”The participants are a part of a daily disability exercise program that allows them to stay active and be a part of sports, weight training, water aerobics, arts and crafts, and computer skills training. Also several field trips and social gatherings are planned by the participant’s parents committee to give them an opportunity to enjoy the city.

A unique screen-printing shop that made its mark is closing down

Editor’s note: Proper Printshop reopened. Follow up story here

EL PASO – Beneath fluorescent lights Inside a noisy concrete room that smells of paint, Stephen Escarzaga, 24, works a computer mouse to rapidly transform the pictures inside his clients’ heads into a graphic logo, a print or a shirt. For six years, Escarzaga and his partner Jonathan Childress, 24, worked in a unique lifestyle that included screen printing, making music, shooting video and running the show at their printshop. But the Central El Paso business, Proper Printshop, will come to an end as they move on to pursue other career goals. The partnership began in May 2008 as they shared a Westside apartment.

Football players give praise and express concern after gay all-American ‘comes out’

EL PASO — To his dad, he is one who will have “many hurdles to cross”. To his University of Missouri teammates and coaches, he is first-team all-American and Associated Press defensive player of the year in the SEC. To athletes and sports affiliates he is a “courageous young man” and a football player. To some though, he is the gay football player. He is Michael Sam.

A smoke-free campus protects the health of all, but frustrates some

EL PASO — Some students and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso say that smoking cigarettes can ease the stress that comes with study or work, but that tension isn’t going away any time soon. After 100 years the cloud of tobacco smoke at UTEP is lifting. UTEP banned the use of all tobacco products from university property on February 20.Notifications for the major campus reform came through a mass email that afternoon but for some the full realization didn’t hit home until they arrived on campus the following week. The school mascot PayDirt Pete adorned Smoke Free Campus signs and orange flags representing tobacco litter on the floor were there like slaps in the faces of unaware smokers.This massive reform affects too many people to be broadcast through only an email, according to smoker Tony Acuna, who was one of many regulars hanging out outside the doors of the library. He said that his rights are at stake.“Smoking is my choice, just as eating fast food,” said Acuna.

UTEP prepares to host Baja Buggy Race

EL PASO — Wearing tight-fitting safety glasses, two engineering students concentrate on turning pieces of metal on a lathe hoping to create the perfect component for an impressive Baja Buggy that they hope will catch the attention of recruiters. The students at work in an engineering workshop on the University of Texas at El Paso campus belong to Mad Pete’s Motorsports, a team of mechanical engineers who are part of the national Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE). Their goal is to construct buggies — modified off-road motor vehicles — to compete in the Big Baja Society of Automotive Engineering event that takes outside the UTEP Student Recreation Center from April 24 – 27. Although UTEP has participated in the Baja Buggy Race for over three decades, it has been 16 years since the school hosted the annual SAE event on campus. This time over 100 teams from around the world will compete here to see which ones have the best engineering skills to build efficient, safe, responsive buggies.

Phony lawyers calling themselves notarios continue to scam unsuspecting immigrants

EL PASO — A “Now Renting” sign and an empty office is all Irma Castañeda found when she went to ask her immigration attorney how her deferred action petition was proceeding. She had paid the man who turned out not to be a lawyer at all $2000 to solve her immigration problem. Had the scam never happened, Castañeda would be done with her deferred action process. In the meantime, she is not allowed to work and she is desperate because her husband was deported recently, the house he started to build for them at Horizon City is unfinished, and she cannot feed or provide any comfort to her two daughters — Rosalva, 12, and Jackeline, 9, who was born with a developmental disability. According to immigrant advocates, individuals setting up phony legal offices on the bilingual U.S.-Mexico border are taking advantage of the frequent confusion between the term notario público understood to usually denote a lawyer in Mexico and notary public, which in the U.S. is a person with no legal training, with the very limited legal authority of a licensed notary public to basically attest to the validity of a signature on a document for a $6 fee.

Football coaches debate the possible benefits and dangers of marijuana use

EL PASO — The week before the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll was asked about his thoughts on the use in the NFL of medicinal marijuana, which is legal in the state of Washington. Carroll said that the NFL needs to continue to find ways to make football a better game by taking care of its players in the best way possible. “The fact that it’s [medicinal marijuana] in the world of medicine is obviously something [that Commissioner Roger Goodell] realizes.” Carroll said he supports the commissioner’s “expression that we need to follow the information and the research.”

Carroll said that regardless of the stigmas involved, he thinks “we have to do this because the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions.” University of Texas at El Paso head football Coach Sean Kugler said he does not agree with Carroll. “I have my own opinions about drugs and college athletes, and that is handled within our program,” he said.