Mexicano, Chicano, or Pocho. Who am I?

I didn’t start to question my identity until my first year of college. Before that I thought I was an American citizen attending kindergarten in Ciudad Juarez. Then in third grade I realized that I was Mexican when I crossed the border to attend Houston Elementary School in El Paso. The first day of school a classmate asked me in Spanish – not English – why I was wearing black polished shoes. I remember I looked around and saw that all the other boys and girls were wearing sporty tennis shoes.

How a foreign student taught me not to feel like an outsider in my own city

I don’t consider myself a social person, especially while I’m in college. I get too focused on school work, and usually meet new people if they are the first ones to come up and talk to me. I was also was self-conscious about people judging me for my English skills. Even though I was born in El Paso, I lived in Juarez, Mexico until fifth grade. And like a lot of others who live on the border, I sometimes felt like I was in an awkward limbo between cultures.

Austin High School to restore, save its history through alumni and student efforts

When Chris Steven entered the halls of the Austin High School as a student in 2008, little did he know that in his heart he would never leave. “I grew up around Austin. It’s my second home. A lot of my early memories were of going to the football games. I just remember how happy I was to come to Austin and I get excited to see all these people very prideful chanting and cheering for the football teams and singing the (Austin) fight song.

Children find home on the road as they follow parents in military moves

Bilanki Andang seems like any other student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He stays home and watches TV shows on Netflix on weekends and enjoys the same things many other millennials like. However, his childhood was far from traditional. His father, Staff Sgt. Theophilus Andang, worked in the Army for 15 years as an S1 before he decided to retire in El Paso.

Latino entrepreneurs make their mark through microbrewing

El Paso, TX – Carlos Guzmán opened his first bar while he was stationed in Iraq. Well, it was sort of a bar. And it sort of just happened. Guzmán was having a hard time buying liquor in Iraq, so he asked his friends and family to stash some little bottles in their care packages. “Little did I know that within a month we’d have over 50 bottles,” said Guzmán who was in the U.S. Army.

El Paso’s forgotten historical sites gather dust on the border

Weeds grow high around the empty buildings on the land where many say El Paso got its start. The spot where Don Juan de Oñate is believed to have led a Spanish expedition in 1598 after discovering the Pass to the North is marked by little more than an abandoned fountain. Generations later in 1850, El  Paso pioneer Simeon Hart established Hart’s Mill in the same area of Paisano Drive on the edge of the Rio Grande. Now there is just La Hacienda, a restaurant that closed down decades ago. The officers quarters from Old Fort Bliss, built between 1873 and 1893 still stand nearby – also empty and forgotten.

Fading faith challenges relationships in predominantly Catholic community

Sarahi Moyers remembers the day she told her mother she did not believe in God. She was a nervous 13-year old, who was about to feel slightly guilty, and at the same time very liberated by what she was going to say. “I don’t believe in God,” Moyers said. Her mother, Luz Ofelia Burundi – a devout Catholic – was devastated. Another child damned, another child she would have to repent for, another child that lost their way.

Non-Catholics share views about pope’s border visit

EL PASO — In a region where the majority of the population is Catholic, news of Pope Francis’ visit to Cd. Juarez on Wednesday has brought a lot of excitement since it was announced back in December. But among non-Catholics it is still just Wednesday. Jehovah Witnesses Claudia A. Bernal and her mother, also named Claudia, said they don’t have plans to follow any of the pope-related events since they don’t share the same beliefs, but they also don’t feel any opposition to the celebration. “We are respectful about the pope’s visit,” said the elder Claudia Bernal.

Disminuye el número de católicos en Cd. Juárez

CD. JUAREZ — Pese a que la religión católica sigue siendo la que más se profesa aquí, el número de católicos ha disminuido considerablemente en los últimos años. Esta ciudad fronteriza cuenta con una población de 1.3 millones y el 69 por ciento se consideran católicos, pero de acuerdo con el Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geográfica e Informática (INEGI), la religión católica ha decaído en Juárez. Hace apenas 10 años, un 82 por ciento de la población profesaba ser católica. Según María Olivares quien lleva abrazando la religión católica desde hace 50 años, esto se debe a los escándalos por los cuales ha pasado la iglesia católica.

Life of activism shines through in Mexican-American artist’s colorful works

 

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Arturo Avalos grew up in area of town known as Segundo Barrio, one of the oldest immigrant neighborhoods in the city. As a first generation Mexican American, Avalos said the discrimination he experienced as a child growing up has had a deep impact on his art and life. In elementary school he discovered his passion for drawing and was often scolded by teachers to complete his classwork instead of doodling. At the age of 12 he became a young activist after the mostly Mexican-American workers at Farah, a garment manufacturing company where his sister and neighbors worked, went on strike because of low wages, no medical benefits, work quotas and better working conditions at the company. “I volunteered and did what they needed, handing out flyers, explaining our position,” said Avalos.