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Abe Observes

abe villarrealAbe Villarreal is the Assistant Dean of Student Support and Civic Engagement at Western New Mexico University. When not on campus, he enjoys writing about his observations on marketing, life, people and American traditions.

By Abe Villarreal

Last Sunday, during Sunday School, the four-year-olds in the room were asked what they were thankful for during this special time of family and festivities. They each thought long and hard before giving their answers, and most of them expressed thankfulness for far more than friends and family.

I often think of how sayings like “friends and family” or “thoughts and prayers” have become throwaway phrases. What we want to say to each other does more for ourselves than to those for who intend it. This isn’t true for four-year-olds.

By Abe Villarreal

The Clover Grill may be located at one end of the historic and frenzied French Quarter in New Orleans, but through and through it is quintessentially small town American.

Close your eyes and think of the diners of yesteryear. The kind you could see Mickey and Judy sitting at, enjoying a strawberry malt while listening to their favorite Bing Crosby tune playing on the jukebox. The Clover Grill feels like that kind of place, but not exactly.

By Abe Villarreal

My hometown friend Tony passed away. I didn’t know it until I read it in the paper this week. For some reason, this one hurts more than usual. Tony and I had a connection that you only get from people who come from your same hometown.

We didn’t grow up together, and he’s 21 years my senior. A few years ago, I met him when I started volunteering each Saturday at the Silver City Gospel Mission. The first time I saw him, he was having some incredible back pains and walked with a large stick.

By Abe Villarreal

Hola! It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and I have an urge to communicate to you in Spanish, but that, to some people, would be offensive. Ay yai yai...

Remember when high schools would require us to learn a foreign language? I grew up on the U.S. - Mexico border, so I took French. Don’t know much if it anymore, but I did enjoy learning how words are formed and expressions are created.

Language can be so amazing, and the Spanish language has some unforgettable phrases. Most of them come in the form of old wives’ tales that mama and nana told you.

By Abe Villarreal

Most of us feel like we know a little about most things. Then reality hits us. The truth is, we know very little about almost everything.

It’s a difficult reality to accept. In an age where we can Google an answer in less than a minute, information is literally at your fingertips. But there’s a wide gap between information and knowledge. Reading and repeating something won’t take us too far.

Once a year, I have the blessing of traveling to Agua Prieta, Mexico, with university students to partner with an area charity named Rancho Feliz. The impoverished border town is what you would imagine your parents told you about “Old Mexico.” The infrastructure is poor, the people about the same.

By Abe Villarreal

Whenever I eat one of those popsicles with the corny jokes printed on the stick, I feel like a kid again. Just the other day I had one that asked why the elephant couldn’t use the computer. The answer: he was afraid of the mouse.

The jokes are silly, but they always make me smile. Funny how the simple things in life take us to more innocent times. Like the times that we were kids and we could walk around the neighborhood, wasting endless hours by picking up sticks and kicking rocks. Whatever we could see was our playground.

By Abe Villarreal

I remember once my Nana told me to sit up straight. Actually, she said it tons of times. I could hear her voice now – “enderezate.” She always sat up straight. It meant something to her.

There’s something interesting about growing up poor. You don’t have much, so you focus on what you do have. When you’re poor, it isn’t the material things that matter. Instead, you focus on the things you can afford. The free things like sitting up straight.

Nana Rafaela was born in the town of Cumpas, Sonora, Mexico. Like most places where poor people are born, it was an agricultural community in 1925. She was one of five kids, and her parents were born at the turn of the century.

By Abe Villarreal

I heard a saying the other day. It went something like: See the world through the eyes of the person you are talking to.

It made me pause for a moment. I felt a little conflicted thinking of how often I speak to someone thinking of what I want them to hear while ignoring what they are telling me and why it matters to them.

Live from Silver City

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