“People are going to express their opinion whether there’s a dislike button or not.”
Major: Fire Science
“I think there’s going to be more drama.”
Major: Criminal Justice
“It would be cool to see celebrities like the Kardashians get dislikes.”
“It allows people to express themselves more freely.”
“I think it’s a good idea to have because if you don’t like a post, it will give them a clear idea.”
Photos and interviews by Micheal Romero
“A burger. It’s cheap and satisfying.”
“Make-up, because I wear it and I like it.”
“Hot Cheetos, they’re always a quick good snack.”
“Clothes. If you find something and it’s cheap, of course you want it.”
Major: Behavior Health Technician
“If there’s a cheap ass shirt, I’m like ‘Yo, I need this, it’s fresh as fuck.’”
Major: Civil Engineering
Photos and interviews by Jessica Gonzales at West Campus
By KIT B. FASSLER
Sex trafficking is happening in Tucson.
Educating the public about that fact was the key purpose of a gathering held on March 24 at West Campus co-sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Studies Club and the Social Services Student Organization.
After showing a documentary film, the groups hosted a community discussion. Most attendees were Pima Community College students.
The documentary, titled “A Path Appears,” was produced by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Panel moderators were Dianna Repp, faculty advisor, Sheena Hokanson, ISC president, and Genesis Mora Delhayo, SSSO president.
The panel highlighted circumstances surrounding girls who have been taken into sex trafficking.
Some of their main points included:
• Sex trafficking is a form of slavery.
• Sex trafficking is a tough criminal enterprise.
• Many girls disappear permanently and their names are changed.
• A girl on the run can be taken by a manipulative pimp.
• Runaways ages 10-18, both poor and middle class, fall prey to traffickers.
• Victims are forced into prostitution and there are threats involved.
• Victims are not bad people.
Students participating in the discussion gave suggestions to help girls in this situation. Some of their ideas included:
• Expand education and community involvement.
• Make parents and girls aware that sex trafficking happens in our community.
• Emphasize that young girls need consistent support from their parents.
• Make young girls aware not to trust strangers.
• Teach young girls that pimps can approach them after school or at parties, and in places like shopping malls or public parking lots.
Every dark tunnel has a bright ending. The film documented how Illinois’ Cook County pioneered “National John’s Day” with a theme of “Shaming John.” On the day spotlighted, several men were arrested after attempting sex with young girls.
Nonprofit organizations such as the Mary Magdalene Project, FAIR Girls, Fairfund and GEMS: Girl Education and Mentoring Services have stepped up to transform the lives of the victims.
Their goals include providing housing and jobs to restore hope for victims, and to help them find their own new path.
For more information, visit pbs.org/independentlens/path-appears.
Photos and interviews by Pablo Espinosa at Downtown Campus
“It’s an act of oppression.They cut the funding for the lower income people.”
“I’m very against it. I don’t think we need more prisons. We should use the money from prisons and give it to education.”
“That sucks. That’s not fair. I think the students need the money more. Why should we build more prisons when we’ve got to focus on education?”
“I don’t think that is fair because we actually need it. I thought the prisons were getting enough money. It makes no sense.”
“It’s a bad idea to take away from education, which is our future. If he wanted to make more money, he should invest in education so people can get better jobs.”
Photos and interviews by Alfred Dicochea III at East Campus
“I would work for Live Nations. They work with concerts, and that is my passion. I go to concerts all the time.”
Major: Chemical engineering
“Water treatment. I want to do something that helps. I want to take messes and fix them.”
Major: General studies
“What I’m doing now. I’m a missionary for a club on campus. It’s just what I love.”
Major: Associate of Science
“Astrobiologist. I’m fascinated by it. You stop and look up, and you can’t see what’s out there with your eyes.”
Major: Veterinary assistant
“To be a veterinarian, because I love animals. If there is an animal in my house, it is because of me.”
By DANYELLE KHMARA
The Pima Community College International Student Club is a place where international students can get to know each other and participate in fundraisers, class trips and community service.
Club president Alejandra Fraijo moved from Sonora, Mexico, to Tucson six months ago for a better education and because Pima is close to her hometown.
She is in her second semester at Pima as a nutritional science major and says living in Tucson is a new life for her.
Club vice president Alma Gonzales, a psychology major, is also originally from Sonora. She moved to the United States when she was 5 years old.
Gonzales and Fraijo hope to transfer to the University of Arizona after Pima.
Both women are personable and well-spoken, each with a unique air of inviting confidence.
Students are drawn to the International Student Club for a sense of community.
“They want to get to know people, have a better experience and feel welcome,” Gonzales says.
Fraijo adds that international students want to talk to people who can empathize with what they’re feeling.
“They want to feel at home,” she says.
When Fraijo started at Pima, she went to the international student orientation.
“They told me about this club, and I was so interested,” she says.
She joined the club last semester and has made many friends.
Last semester she went to Disneyland on a club trip, and says the trip was a great experience. They traveled in four vans with around 43 students. Many of them were at Pima from Aguascalientes, Mexico, through the Bécalos student-exchange program.
“It was my first time going there,” she says. “I felt like a little kid.”
Gonzales got involved in the club last year, during her first semester at Pima.
“The past president was a really good friend of mine,” she says.
Her friend told her being involved in the club was a great way to get to know people, be more involved in the community and do community service.
Gonzales also went on the Disneyland trip last fall. Before the trip, she knew the Bécalos students a little but during the trip got to know them really well.
“I feel that we bonded,” she says. “It was a good time to actually get to know people.”
Gonzales and Fraijo really got to know each other for the first time on that trip as well.
The club looks for projects to help the community.
Gonzales says this helps club members have a resume that’s well-rounded and to be considered for scholarships.
“And it’s good for them to go out and experience,” she adds.
She has noticed that many community college students get into a routine where they go to class and then just go home—watch a movie, maybe. “In the club, we’re guiding them to do a little bit more,” she says.
Getting more involved in the community helps them form good habits, Gonzales says. Many of the club’s members find it rewarding, and some continue to do community service on their own, outside of the club.
Currently, 22 club members meet every Wednesday afternoon. There is a student from Germany, one from Puerto Rico, one from Japan and one from Argentina. Most of the other club members are from Mexico.
Some are first-generation born in the United States, raised in families with various cultural traditions. One student who was born in the U.S. has parents from Argentina and has lived there. Another grew up in a military family and traveled a lot as a child.
During meetings, club members discuss future projects, plan club fundraisers and discuss the community service projects they’re interested in taking on.
Last semester club members conducted a sock drive for Casa de los Niños and Casa de los Inmigrantes, and they hope to volunteer at a local food bank soon.
Because not all the club members are from Spanish-speaking countries, they mostly speak English during meetings.
“We try,” Gonzales says, laughing. “But sometimes it slips out—we speak in Spanish.” She adds that it helps non-Spanish-speaking club members learn Spanish.
Club members are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon this semester and are holding lots of fundraisers to attain that goal. They already have seven fundraisers planned before mid-April.
On March 5, the club sold nachos and quesadillas outside the West Campus bookstore. Joking and chatting happily with customers, club members took turns making sales, cooking quesadillas and stirring melted cheese.
Earlier this semester, club members went on an outing to Buffalo Wild Wings to get to know each other better.
Fraijo and Gonzales agree it was a great experience for everyone. “Taking it outside of school—so again, you get to know more people, more deeply,” Gonzales says.
Amy Copler, 20
“I would like two things: more social events that take place on campus, and more tutors available to assist students.”
Eduardo Lujan, 21
Major: Administration of Justice
“I’d like to see more diverse student clubs, like a political science club or a criminal justice debate club.”
Joshua McLean, 19
“I’d like to see better customer service in the bookstore and in the new cafeteria.”
Kari Mattias, 20
“I would like to see the tutoring center more accessible on Saturdays. Basically, more tutors, longer hours.”
Monique Carillo, 26
Major: Computer Science
“I would like better communication between students and advisors. I’d also like to see better communication between advisors and between advisors and administration. Sometimes you get totally different information from each one.”
Photos and interviews by Emery Nicoletti on East Campus.
“I’m off to New Mexico to relax and visit friends and family.”
Jared Phillips, 25
“My friend and I are going to Rocky Point, Mexico. Jet skiing, horseback riding and a sunset cruise are all on the agenda.”
Alexandra Miller, 19
“I’m going boating with family and friends at Lake Pleasant and Lake Roosevelt. We’re going to get some wakeboard time in.”
Andrew McGlaughlin, 20
“I’m taking my dogs to San Diego so we can run on the beach.”
Amerillis “Emmy” Beager, 19
Major: Liberal Arts
“Some friends have a cabin in Idaho, so I’m joining them to go snowboarding.”
Allen Ganuelas, 19
Major: Aerospace Engineering
Photos and interviews by Emery Nicoletti on Northwest Campus
Check out video versions of The Word at AztecPressOnline.com
BY KIT B. FASSLER and JACK KEERS
Host families assembled at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus on March 2, eager to welcome an Up With People cast of 100 students from 20 countries. Rain that day surprised visitors expecting dry, warm weather in the desert.
The group came to perform, do community service and hold workshops for a week. One group volunteered at the Community Food Bank while others visited schools and conducted cultural workshops. The highlight of their visit was performing at the Fox Theatre downtown.
Up With People returned to Tucson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its formation in the Old Pueblo. J. Blanton Belk founded the organization in 1965.
“I had a vision that it would be really good to harness the vibrancy of young students from all over the world,” Belk said. “Young people from different cultural background could bring the message of peace.”
Belk turned 90 this year and still lives in Tucson with his wife. He could hardly imagine that the group still performs around the world, including in Cuba in 2014.
“The show goes on,” he said. “As long as young people are there, there is hope for peace in this world.”
During the group’s Downtown Campus visit, a young, tall woman named Fia Binford chatted with peers while placing balloons on stage.
When approached by a reporter, she sat down and started telling stories about why she decided to join UWP.
“My parents met in the program 33 years ago,” Binford said. “At that time, the training center was still based in Tucson. The group traveled to Puerto Rico.”
Binford, who was born in Detroit but has a strong Irish heritage, holds dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and United States. She usually spends summers in Belfast.
This semester she is taking 12 credit hours on the road through Florida Southern College. Binford is studying a degree in music business with a minor in communication.
Her focus is on international communication and small group community service, including leadership and management skills.
“I learned to say ‘I love you’ in seven languages,” she said. “You always feel being a part of something greater than yourself.”
Binford likes to sing, and enjoys jazz music and rhythm.
“When you work with the group, you don’t think as an individual,” she said. “It’s about the cast, the message as a cast.”
Binford and other cast members said there are many stereotypes involving different countries and cultures.
Binford likes to talk about her joyful experiences with host families, and said the families are most welcoming.
“Being able to stay with host families in the local community is the most emotional and personal impact for me,” she said. The bonding that develops during the stay is incredible, she added, while the departure is sad.
On March 4, half of the cast returned to Downtown Campus for a cultural fair. They set up information tables and talked to students interested in joining UWP.
Cast member Rafael Schneider strummed a Brazilian tune on his ukulele with a welcoming smile while staffing a table. People couldn’t resist stopping by, and he happily posed for photos with the ukulele.
Schneider didn’t hesitate to talk about his country and his life while growing up in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. He was 13 and his youngest sister was only 1 when his parents were separated. At that time, he was more worried about his baby sister than himself.
Eventually, he realized he had to do something better for his own life.
“The lessons learned made me become stronger,” he said. “I chose to be positive to get ahead of my life.”
Schneider decided to learn English in the U.S., and attended Maclay High School in Tallahassee, Fla. After he graduated, he returned to Brazil to attend college.
“When I heard about UWP I decided to join,” he said. “I like its mission and was also eager to meet students from all over the world.”
UWP taught him the importance of team building and how to appreciate other people’s cultures. In his spare time, he likes to sing and play ukulele, Brazilian style.
In the afternoon, the staff conducted a two-hour workshop on leadership, culture and understanding differences.
The activities led to discussion about interpersonal communication, cultural differences and how those differences affect interaction among individuals.
Yira Brimage, vice president of student development for Downtown Campus, said PCC is positioning itself for globalization and the visit by international students could build bridges of global friendship.
“The UWP cast doesn’t only perform,” she said. “The component part of it is community service that brings the message of peace. These international students visit our community full of vibrancy, enthusiasm and energy. I hosted a student from Switzerland who speaks five languages.”
UWP’s theme for its March 6 performance integrated music and dance from the ‘60s to the present. It featured colorful dances from South Africa, Hawaii, Japan, Cuba and the U.S.
During the emotional finale, the audience joined in singing the group’s theme song, “Up Up with People.”
Editor’s note: Pima Community College has replaced cafeteria meals with food trucks. Aztec Press is investigating the new options with fork in hand.
By ALEX FRUECHTENICHT
Jozarelli’s Italian Street Food is one of the sharpest looking food trucks parked out front of Pima Community College campuses.
While the concept is nothing new, Jozarelli’s separates itself from other food trucks by offering Italian cuisine ranging from pizza and calzones to pasta bowls and sandwich wraps.
When you order one of the many $6 to $9 dishes, you’ll be greeted with a smile and questions to ensure your selection arrives just how you want it.
Your food is made fresh when you order, which is great, but it may pose a problem if you are in a rush to grab a bite before class. Each dish takes around 10 minutes to make.
If you aren’t in a hurry, the truck has an outside television you can watch while your food is being prepared. Thankfully, if you have the time, the food is well worth it.
The dish I ordered, a spicy Italian sausage calzone for $7, was large enough to warrant the price.
The calzone was stuffed to the brim with cheese, basil, red peppers and, of course, sausage. The ingredients were fresh and still full of flavor, not old or bland, which was a worry for me going in.
The combination of friendly staff, a large menu, entertainment and quality of dishes really make Jozarelli’s a standout food truck at Pima.
Just don’t expect them to rush your order.
By ALYSSA RAMER
Pairs of students dot a room filled with massage tables. One massages as the other relaxes on a table. The students massaging gently push their hands into their partner’s lower back.
The students were practicing an athletic massage, which is a shorter massage than the 50-minute option normally offered at Pima Community College’s Northwest Campus in the updated Therapeutic Massage Program.
The program is available as an associate of applied science. Graduates are entitled to apply for a massage license in Arizona.
Pima’s therapeutic massage program was created 10 years ago as an “innovative credit” program. It is now fully accredited and funded by the college.
Janet Vizard is full-time lead faculty for the program. She studied at the University of Maryland, acquiring a bachelor’s of science degree and a master’s in physical education.
Vizard also earned a certificate from Potomac Massage Training Institute in Washington D.C. in 1993. She has worked across the eastern United States and received an Arizona massage therapy license in 2004. She has been teaching massage therapy at Pima since 2005.
“It is the most challenging and rewarding experience I have had, and I love it,” she said.
Students can give massages to anyone after they have taken their “foundation” classes.
Stephanie Wenneborg plans to finish the program in a year and a half, as part of an accelerated program with 46 credit hours.
“If you can maintain the required ‘C’ average, keep up with the brilliant instructors and overcome any initial fears you may have providing therapeutic touch to strangers in need, then there is no massage school in Tucson more respected than Pima’s,” she said.
Wenneborg wants to pursue athletic massage out of a desire to take care of athletes when they get hurt and to help them avoid injury. This summer, she will intern with the athletic training center at the University of Arizona.
Tara Peck, another massage student, is graduating in the summer. “I have wanted to pursue massage since my senior year in high school,” she said. The program, she added, is fast paced.
The program curriculum includes classes in business, ethics, kinesiology and pathology – as well as therapeutic-massage experience in a clinic setting.
One benefit of the intense program is that it gives students 940 hours of classroom contact and hands-on practice – compared to the 750 hours provided at other schools in Arizona.
“The additional hours mean that if students move to another state requiring more than 750 hours, they have already completed enough hours to qualify for licensure there,” Vizard said.
There are usually 12 to 30 students in the program.
The graduation rate is close to 95 percent once students reach advanced-level classes.
Regular therapeutic massage classes are offered in the daytime, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday though Thursday.
The student massage clinic operates at specified times (see FYI box below) in room A-212 on Northwest Campus.
A 50-minute session costs $20 for visitors and $10 for college students and employees with a PCC identification card.
For an appointment, call the clinic at 206-2062 and leave a message with your name, phone number and requested appointment time.
You will receive a return call confirming your appointment.
You must pay for sessions in advance at any Pima cashier’s office, and bring the receipt to the appointment. Arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to complete paperwork.
The clinic will be closed during Spring Break and re-open March 27.
Pregnant women and people with significant health problems or who are contagious will not be able to get a massage.
For further information, call 206-2263.
By BRYN BAILER
The last bucking bull burst from the chute…the final cowboy scrambled through arena dirt to dodge the Brahma’s crushing hooves…and another pro rodeo has come to a close.
The sweaty, bruised, rough-stock riders spit the grit from between their teeth, grab their gear bags and head for the parking lot, where another sport has just begun: open season on Bunnies.
Buckle Bunnies, that is.
The women, nicknamed for their fervent attraction to championship bling – namely, the big, shiny trophy belt buckles worn by top competitors – haunt sporting arenas and rodeo grounds around the nation, and perhaps in Tucson.
They are the dirty little secret of pro rodeo.
Quick to open their homes, wallets (and sometimes, much more), Bunnies are ever ready to provide a few hours’ distraction from a rodeo competitor’s life of punishing travel, chronic injury and uncertain financial rewards.
Their services range from the domestic – like fixing home-cooked meals or making transport runs to the airport – to the erotic, replete with birthday blowjobs and hotel room romps.
Bunnies seem driven by a need to feel part of the rodeo world, even though they may have absolutely no connection with the lifestyle, said USA Today sports reporter Josh Peter, who traveled the national pro bull-riding circuit in 2004.
“For the tried-and-true cowgirl, there is something romantic about that lifestyle,” he said. “And then there are those drawn to novelty, the attraction of danger: If you can’t ride a bull, you might as well try riding a bull rider.”
The Colorado-based Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association officially sanctions more than 600 rodeos in the United States and Canada – including Tucson’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, a winter rodeo ranked among the nation’s Top 25 in terms of prize money.
The nine-day event is held outdoors, making it especially popular with fans because the open-air grounds provide better up-close-and-personal access to competitors than high-security indoor sports arenas.
Most Bunnies hang out on the “back side” of rodeo facilities. At the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, the prime cowboy-chasing real estate for fans is located behind the rank livestock pens.
Despite the muck and stink, the girls wait and primp patiently … because that is where the baddest of rodeo’s bad boys – bull and bronc riders – gather.
The young women, most in their 20s, wear taut tie-up tops, barely-there denim shorts and high-heeled fashion boots that try hard to look “country” but don’t.
Waiting for the cowboys to appear, they toss their blonde-haystack hair, swig bottles of domestic beer and flash long, airbrushed fingernails that almost certainly have never guided the reins of a horse.
They already know which cowboys have the highest status.
As befits a virile sport like rodeo, judging a cowboy’s prowess involves scrutinizing his crotch: A few inches above it sits his belt buckle.
Trophy buckles, glittering like metallic codpieces, are helpfully engraved with a competitor’s name and event, as well as the rodeo where he won it.
Champion cowboys stand out, especially if they wear a handcrafted buckle won at the big-money National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
The elaborately engraved, Pop-Tart-sized works of art are made of 14-carat gold backed with sterling silver and inset with two brilliant-cut diamonds.
Cowboys call ’em “bitch getters.”
Of course, athletes have taken advantage of starry-eyed groupies for generations. Ball players shag Baseball Annies. Ice hockey players pass around Puck Bunnies.
But rodeo – starring fearless athletes with rugged names like Pistol Robinson, Twister Cain and Jesse James Kirby – drips testosterone like no other sport.
The men crisscross the country from rodeo to rodeo, and the most dedicated Bunnies follow them doggedly.
“There are those who stick close to home, traveling the rodeo circuits in a particular area,” said Craig J. Forsyth, a professor of sociology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“And then there are those who chase a particular cowboy as he competes in rodeos across the country.”
Forsyth knows Bunnies better than most. He studied the subculture at rodeos in Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
The research eventually became “Buckle Bunnies: Groupies of the Rodeo Circuit,” a study published in 2000 in the respected academic journal Deviant Behavior.
Forsyth also encountered a different breed of Bunnies, who were known – through the complex, word-of-mouth cowboy grapevine – for providing almost motherly support.
They mend torn shirts, offer free meals, lend extra cash for rodeo entry fees or medical expenses, or simply open their home as a quiet place to rest and recover from a literally bruising day of competition.
“They just love cowboys and being around cowboys,” Forsyth said.
The life of a circuit rodeo cowboy, after all, isn’t an easy one.
There are no guaranteed salaries and no “disabled list.” If a competitor gets injured and can’t ride, he doesn’t earn anything.
Moreover, he must spend hundreds of dollars in entry fees at each rodeo – and can lose it all with one bad ride.
At the same time, bills for lodging, transportation, horse feed and veterinary bills keep coming due.
In contrast with groupies who chase cowboys brazenly and offer little more than no-strings-attached lovin’, a kind-hearted female fan can literally enable a cowboy to continue down the arduous rodeo road.
Even if it leads straight into the arms of another Bunny.
Some Bunnies become celebrities themselves. Cowboys can tick off the nicknames: There was Whorey Lori, Nasty Wendy, Mustang Sally and Big Tits.
Speedbump Sue was a party girl who got so drunk one night that she passed out under a pickup truck.
Mo’ Betta liked an audience and would take on several cowboys at once. There was also a lusty lass dubbed Penicillin Patty. Men still wince when they hear her name.
But while cowboys talk freely about these scandalous Sweethearts of the Rodeo, you’ll be hard pressed to find a woman who accepts the label herself.
“‘Buckle Bunny’ is a dirty word among women,” emphasized Peter, the sports writer. “But it’s like good art: When you see it, you know it.”
While rock ‘n’ roll groupies like Cynthia Plaster Caster trumpet their sexual adventures to the masses, rodeo-cowboy junkies rarely kiss ’n tell.
Fortunately for Peter, the bull riders provided their share of lurid stories, some of which made it into his book, “Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies & Bull Riders: A Year Inside the Professional Bull Riders’ Tour.”
One particular groupie, known simply as Becky, would routinely show up on cowboys’ birthdays, offering oral sexual services.
Another story involved a rowdy post-rodeo visit to a nightclub in Jacksonville, Fla. It included married cowboys, various scantily clad (and occasionally topless) Bunnies, group groupie gropes and several men missing in action at the end of the night.
“Seven cowboys went into the limo and four came back,” Peter said. “The others had ‘extracurriculars’ planned.”
“Calamity” Cate Crismani, California-based editor-publisher of trueCOWBOY magazine, has never dated a rodeo cowboy. But as an accomplished horsewoman and wild-horse activist, she wouldn’t mind, if the right opportunity presented itself.
“I’ve interviewed cowboys, and most of them are very charming, respectful and well-mannered,” she said. “They say ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘No, ma’am.’ They’re buff and handsome, and love their horses and their mothers.”
She takes a gentler view of Buckle Bunnies than most.
“They’re just using their feminine wiles in a unique setting – the rodeo – to attract the type of man they want to be married to,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with that as far as I can tell.
“And it’s a symbiotic relationship: When a beautiful woman puts her sights on a man, his ego, prowess – and ability to perform better in all aspects of life – rises.”
Interviews and photos at Downtown Campus by Emery Nicoletti
By EMERY NICOLETTI
Tenny Tenka, 63, sits upright, knees together, back arched and not quite touching the chair, seemingly positioned in the very manner of a proper Chinese lady.
The Pima Community College student made her way to the United States from Indonesia in 2010 after the death of her husband, leaving behind her entire surviving family and relocating to a place she had never been before.
The first thing she did upon arrival was find a school to learn English.
“It was my passion,” she said, beaming. “I took classes four days a week. I like to learn.”
Tenka would like to eventually master Spanish and French as well. Ultimately, she dreams of becoming a writer.
Her storied journey begins more than 100 years ago with her grandfather and parents on the southeast coast of China in Hokkien, known as Fujian Province. Her parents immigrated to Indonesia before she was born.
Many ethnic Chinese around the world, especially in Southeast Asia, trace their ancestry to Fujian.
Tenka lived through tumultuous times in Indonesia, including a series of uprisings in 1965-66 involving the 30 September Movement that killed more than 500,000 people. The secondary school she attended as a 15-year-old was seized.
Her husband died at age 61 after contracting what Americans refer to as black lung. He acquired the condition as a result of painting fenders on cars without protection or proper ventilation, and from working in an atmosphere filled with second-hand smoke.
After his death, Tenka emigrated to the U.S. through the applied efforts of her younger sister. Her sister arrived 30 years ago, and now lives in Sahuarita.
Tenka left behind three sons. Martin, 36, and Ricky, 33, moved to Australia a half-decade ago. Her youngest son, Renaldo, remains in Indonesia.
She has applied to bring Renaldo to the U.S., but it takes five-to-10 years for approvals from U.S. Customs and Immigration. Her own immigration in 2010 followed an approved application submitted by her sister in 1998.
Tenka grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese, a dialect different from the language spoken by her parents. She learned a little English as a child, but quickly forgot it.
She now attends English as a Second Language class at Pima’s West and Northwest campuses, and works in the deli department at a Fry’s grocery in Sahuarita.
Some co-workers and customers were initially impatient with her lack of communication skills, Tenka admits. That was both challenging and disheartening at times.
Her Fry’s supervisor, manager Bechir Sfaxi, says Tenka’s communication skills have greatly improved. “She knows her job and gets along well with her co-workers and customers.”
Tenka drives to her job at Fry’s but takes the bus to her Pima classes.
“I am a slow driver, so I only drive in Sahuarita,” she said with a renewed school-girl grin.
There are many things that Tenka misses about Indonesia, including the spices and the smell of the earth.
“It not same smell,” she says with a lingering accent not easily detected in earlier responses. “The beauty of the clothes, the fabrics, all different, not like here.”
She goes on, trying to paint word pictures to describe the type of woven fabric she is envisioning, how it’s made and how it shimmers. “Not like silk, better.”
Tenka remembers the beautiful foliage of Indonesia, and laments that her former engulfing color of green is wiped from her new landscape.
And lastly, the air. The air she breathes in Tucson doesn’t feel quite the same.
She also misses celebrating an esteemed annual tradition to honor family ancestors, held on April 5 at the cemetery and in July at the temple.
Tenka’s marriage was not arranged, as was the tradition in many areas of China, but her parents enjoyed a successful arranged marriage for 55 years.
Her parents never expressed outward emotions such as holding hands or kissing in public, but it was quite clear to Tenka that her parents were in love. “My parents were very happy,” she says.
Public displays of affection are prohibited in Chinese tradition and are against the law in Indonesia.
“Americans hold hands in public and always say, ‘I love you,’” Tenka says. “We don’t do that.” Does she miss her husband? “Yes,” she replies. “I miss him very much.”
Would she ever re-marry? Tenka remains silent for a moment, long enough to suggest that she either did not hear the question or considers it too personal.
She raises her head. “If I meet the right person, I would consider to get remarried. But have to be the right person,” she says.
“I’m rabbit in Chinese zodiac, which means I like safety and to be comfortable in my own space. Future husband have to understand that.”