Changing the narrative on border towns

Nyla Henderson

 Claudia Garcia, student outreach specialist and Ph.D student in higher education, hosted an event to change the narrative of border towns by shining light on the wonderful things about El Paso on Thursday.

“This month we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month which is from September 15 to October 15,” Garcia said. “One of the ways that I wanted to collaborate to showcase the hispanic/latino culture was by having ‘Only in El Paso’.”

‘Only in El Paso’ focuses on the various cultural and geographical outlets the border city offers such as the mountains, the many murals surrounding the city, and La Lucha Libre, or Mexican wrestling.

“There were so many facets of that whole presentation that just shows there is so much to see,” said Sydney Ford, sophomore journalism major.

Unlike stories of refuge and strife, ‘Only in El Paso’ is a video series done in collaboration with Visit El Paso, the local tourism organization, PBS digital studios and El Paso’s local news station KCOS.

“It went in a different direction,” said Ilianna Velze, graduate student in higher education and administration. “I thought I was going to hear a lot of more like border stories, but I’m happy that it went in this type of direction because that way we start from the ground up,”

Another aspect Garcia’s presentation touched on was the origin of the word ‘gringo’ and how it stems from American soldiers dressed in green, crossing into Mexico. Mexicans didn’t appreciate the intrusion into their home and would chant “Green go!” Garcia said.

With it being Hispanic Heritage Month, Garcia’s main hope is to open people’s minds about the culture of border cities and see there is much more than immigration politics.

“El Paso is more than just immigrants but it’s the people, the culture, the traditions,” Garcia said. “There’s a lot of positive things about El Paso and my goal was to share that with the audience today.”

Nyla Henderson is the Diversity reporter. Contact Nyla Henderson at [email protected]