My name is Alely Ramos, I am originally from El Salvador.
I moved to the United States two years ago, currently, I am working in an architectural firm and I live with my family in Pittsburg. The past four years have been full of experiences. In 2016 I moved from El Salvador to Taiwan to pursue my Master’s Degree. While living in this fascinating country I accumulated beautiful memories, I met a lot of people, experienced a different culture, and I had the chance to travel to several countries in the Asian continent.
After my graduation in 2018, I moved to California to pursue my architectural registration. I have enjoyed expending time with my family and friends and frequenting outdoor places such as parks, mountains, lakes, and the beach. Constant learning has always been a motivation for me, that is the reason why I enrolled in college and to a dance class as well.
In my experience, moving to a new country is always challenging, however, I have always relied on social interaction to adapt smoothly.
When the shelter in place was declared in March, I felt sad and impotent. My classes were canceled, I could not meet my friends and family, I canceled my trips, and I was furlough from my job. I found myself sitting in my desk most of the day, looking at the computer trying to find ways to handle the situation while growing personally and professionally.
Dealing with this situation was difficult, I tried to show a positive attitude to my family and friends because I knew that they were facing the same stress as well. However, after a couple of weeks, I could not hide my uncomfortable feeling and I decided to share with them my frustration. It was surprising that everybody was supportive and they also showed to me their discomfort for the unprecedented situation.
All of us were suffering, however, it was fascinating how we were taking care of each other while hiding our struggle to avoid breaking the hope of the others. That requires bravery and love.
It was during this time of uncertainty that I safeguarded under my hobby of painting to externalize my feelings of loneliness and distress. I painted a Salvadoran coffee farmer handpicking coffee beans during an economic crisis in El Salvador. The Salvadoran coffee industry was experiencing a decline in production due to the significant reduction of coffee beans in the plantations and, as a consequence, people were losing their jobs.
The face of the farmer connotes sadness and sorrow; nonetheless, despite her adversity, she has decided to show off and move forward instead of hiding and cry. I felt extremely identified with her story and worked diligently in her portrait for a couple of weeks. It was surprising that a sense of peace refreshed me when I finished the painting, it was comparable to the sentiment of relief when one decides to let negative things go away and practice self-compassion. This painting was a tool to release my negative emotions.
Since then, I learned to deal with the implications of the pandemic through sharing in community and deep listening.
I hope this story helps others to find peace during this time of challenge.
Submitted by Alely Ramos, Contra Costa County – Pittsburgh.