A tale of friendship found and lost while looking for asparagus in Nogales

NOGALES, Az. – I drove across the border from Nogales, Arizona this past April looking for the fresh-cut, thinned-stemmed asparagus spears you can only get there. Having long ago made a personal rule to spend only pesos while in Mexico, my plan was to use my Bank of America’s debit card to withdraw pesos from the ATM at my “sister” bank, Banco Santander. Banco Santander has several modern, first-class, efficient branches in Nogales, Sonora, which is also known, hereabouts, as our “sister” city. I wanted those pesos to buy a couple of pounds of fresh-cut, thinned-stemmed asparagus spears sold by an enterprising fellow up from the farming community of Imuris, Sonora, 60 miles south.

The community at the intersection of Maxwood and Chaswood will benefit from a societal issue research project by UTEP students. (Guerrero García/

Student project shines light on a neighborhood often victimized after dark

EL PASO – She slept comfortably inside her apartment in the Maxwood neighborhood in east El Paso not knowing that her car was broken into under the cover of the night’s darkness and that her laptop computer had been stolen. Itzel Duran, a junior psychology student at the University of Texas at El Paso, was yet another victim of burglary in that part of town. “It is not the worst part of the city,” said Duran, “but the lack of lighting gives an opportunity to delinquents of vandalism and theft.”

That community at the intersection of Maxwood and Chaswood does not have adequate street lighting and many of the residents have been victims of some type of crime. The residents were unaware that a process existed that they could follow as a community in order to obtain streetlights. As part of a societal issue research project, Duran addressed the issue of inadequate street lighting in her neighborhood and together with her research partners Irasema Cuellar and Sarai Bibriescas managed to obtain the proper lighting for the community by educating the neighbors about the city’s procedures.

Dr. Stacey Sowards (second from left), with UTEP students and forest rangers at Gunung Walat Forest, Indonesia in 2009. (Courtesy of Stacey Sowards)

$1 million AID grant to promote UTEP program in environmental conservation in communication

EL PASO – When Stacey Sowards’ parents moved to tropical East Kalimantan in Indonesia during her last year at Colorado College, little did she know that the new experience would guide her future academic achievements. Sowards, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso, first experienced Indonesia in 1994. It was not long before she started teaching Intercultural Communication at different locations in East Kalimantan. She wrote her doctoral dissertation about environmental organizations working to protect orangutans in Indonesia. Sowards received a Fulbright scholarship in 2000 that allowed her to live in Indonesia for about a year and she has returned numerous times since then.

(Lazaro Gamio/New York Institute)

Compensation for crime victims differs among Arizona counties

TUCSON, Ariz. – In Arizona, victims of violent crime have access to as much as $20,000 to help pay for funerals and other expenses. But officials and a report by Arizona State University assert that there’s a wide variation in how counties in the state disburse the money. The study, released in August by Bill Hart, a senior policy analyst at Arizona State University, called the crime victims compensation program “among Arizona’s best-kept secrets.”

According to the report, the total number of claims filed in Arizona by victims seeking compensation decreased 25 percent between 2002 and 2010. In the same period, the number of claims approved decreased 19.5 percent, to 1,238 from 1,538.