Things That Matter

Texas Teacher Continued To Teach Her Students From Her Hospital Bed Until She Died From COVID-19

For so many of us, our teachers are our heroes. They help make sure we have a safe place to come to, to learn in, to express ourselves. Teachers have helped shape so many of us into the people we are today.

That was the work that one El Paso teacher was doing all the way up until the very end. Unfortunately, she’s passed away after battling COVID-19, however, thanks to her compassion and commitment to education, her memory will live on for a very long time.

An El Paso teacher behind heartwarming viral video dies at 35 of COVID-19.

Zelene Blancas was a kind soul who shined positivity on everyone she meant, according to so many of those who knew her. Unfortunately, like so many other Americans and people around the world, Blancas recently lost her battle against COVID-19.

The first grade bilingual teacher from El Paso, Texas had gone viral for her positive vibes just two years ago in a video shared to YouTube of her students giving each other hugs and high-fives.

Blancas, who taught at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School, died of COVID-19 and passed away this week, former Socorro ISD colleague Patty Flores shared on social media. In her social media post, Flores said she and Blancas worked together as fourth grade bilingual teachers.

“Ms. Blancas was a dedicated teacher who loved her students and provided a positive, loving environment for them. She had a light that shined from within and was a positive influence on all those around her,” Flores said. She added, “She was my colleague and friend and simply a beautiful person all around. She will be greatly missed but her legacy of kindness, love and joy will carry on with all those who were blessed to have known her.”

According to a GoFundMe page seemingly started by her family to raise money for her treatment, Blancas tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 20, had to be hospitalized on Oct. 24 and was placed in the intensive care unit. The GoFundme page had raised $33,226 of its $15,000 goal with almost 1,000 donors to the campaign as of Monday.

Blancas and her class had gone viral in 2018 for a video posted to YouTube.

In 2018, Blancas and her students went viral for a video showing Blancas’ students giving one student high fives, hugs and handshakes. The video quickly racked up the views and had received more than 13.6 million views in November 2018 and had 22.2 million views as of last week.

According to a prior story written about the viral video in the El Paso Times, the video showed an example of a new educational initiative at the time called social-emotional learning, which teaches young students how to cope with their emotions, handle conflict and develop interpersonal skills. 

One student was chosen at random to be the recipient of friendly greetings and classmates chose one of four greetings from a set of four greetings pictured on an adjacent wall.

As the students left for the day, they lined up and chose which greeting to give the selected student, allowing students to feel in control of greetings they receive and allowing them to go home happy, Blancas told the Times.

“I want them to go home feeling like I’ll be waiting for them here the next day, or for them to feel like they’ll have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment,” Blancas said two years ago. 

“Regardless of the grade level she taught she was an inspiration and motivation for her students,” Flores told TODAY. “What she taught all of us about creating that positive environment, even during long distance learning, will never be forgotten.”

Blancas also helped out following the El Paso massacre in 2019 at Walmart.

Following the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, 1,337 pairs of pink socks were sent to students at Shook Elementary School and on Nov. 19, 2019, a “Kindness” pep rally was held, encouraging students to wear their pink socks on Mondays and teaching them about kindness in the process. 

Nick Adkins, co-founder of Pinksocks, told TODAY that Blancas was an example of the best of humanity. 

“The ripple effect of love and kindness that she put out into the universe through teaching her kids through the years is immeasurable. Ms. Blancas and the entire staff and students at Shook are what we should all strive for each and every day, each and every now. She lives on in the love that she taught and spread. I am grateful for her. We all are,” Adkins said.

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In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Culture

In Cuba, Where Food Is Unreliable, Savvy Cooks Have Turned to Facebook to Share Recipes

Photo via Getty Images

COVID-19 hasn’t been easy for Cubans. Not only have Cubans been physically affected by the virus like the rest of the world, but the drop in the island’s gross domestic product has stymied local economic productivity. The island can no longer look to tourism to add to their GDP.

Because of this drop in GDP, food shortages on the island have become more severe than in recent memory. And Cuban cooks are feeling the effects.

Cubans must stand in line for hours at markets with no guarantees that the ingredients that they want will be available.

This way of living is especially hard for Cuban cooks, like 39-year-old Yuliet Colón. For Colón, cooking is both a creative expression and a stress reliever. “The kitchen is my happy place, where I am calmer and I feel better,” she recently revealed to the Associated Press.

Yuliet Colón is one of the creators of a Facebook page called Recetas del Corazón that has changed the cooking game for thousands of Cubans.

Now, thanks to Colón and other curious and generous Cuban cooks like her, Recipes from the Heart is now 12,000 members strong.

The goal of the page is to help struggling Cuban cooks cope with food shortages. Members of the page share creative recipes, tips, and food substitutions. Launched in June of 2020, the page was an instant success. Its success proves that Cubans have been desperate to find ways to adapt their cooking to the post-COVID-era.

To AP News, Yuliet Colón laments about the lack of rice, beans, cheese, fruit, and, most of all, eggs. “What I like the most is making desserts, but now it’s hard to get eggs, milk or flour,” she revealed.

The brightside is, however, that Cuban cooks are finally able to share food-related tips and tricks with each other on a much larger scale than they were before the internet became more widespread in the country.

Now that many Cubans have access to communication apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, they can now connect with one another and make the most of what they have–however little that may be.

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Mariah Carey Got Her First Dose Of The Vaccine And Made It Into An Iconic Moment

Entertainment

Mariah Carey Got Her First Dose Of The Vaccine And Made It Into An Iconic Moment

@MariahCarey / Twitter

Vaccines are rolling out across the country. People are getting their shots so life can finally start getting back to normal after a year of quarantining and social distancing. Mariah Carey let her fans join on her first shot and it became iconic.

Mariah Carey got her first shot of the vaccine and hit that whistle note.

More and more Americans are finally getting vaccinated to get the world back to normal. More than 160 million vaccines have been given in the U.S. and people are starting to see the results. Life is slowly getting back to normal for families who haven’t seen each other in years.

The singer was “excited and nervous a little bit” about getting the vaccine. Her demeanor showed just how impactful it is for people to do their part to get us back to normal.

True to form, Carey was in her camera-ready pose when she was getting ready.

People receiving the vaccine are told to keep their arm relaxed but Carey clearly isn’t made for that. How do you just turn off your star charisma?

It’s important to keep your arm relaxed while you are getting your vaccination to save you from the pain. If your arm is tense or in an awkward position, it is more likely to move during the jab, which can be painful. Listen to your nurses.

Some people are very curious how someone so young got the vaccine.

President Joe Biden announced that all states must make vaccine eligibility open to all adults by April 19. Some states are allowing people as young as 16 to get vaccinated. This is an accelerated deadline from the previously called for May 1. President Biden has worked hard to push the vaccination rate up and he has delivered on his promises for various vaccination deadlines.

People want to know if the vocal skills are a side effect of the vaccine.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories circulating about the vaccine. Some people believe that Bill Gates is microchipping them using the vaccine. It is a conspiracy that persists despite people definitively debunking the theory.

Congratulations, Mariah!

The world is eager to get back to normal and the vaccination rollout across the world is going to get us there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slowly releasing new guidelines about what fully vaccinated people are able to do.

For example, it is safe for fully vaccinated people to gather in small groups indoors without masks and social distancing. Fully vaccinated people can also fly on airplanes without much risk because of the effectiveness of the vaccine.

READ: This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

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