Today we’d like to introduce you to Rossana Perez.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I came to the US in 1983 from El Salvador fleeing a war and turmoil country. I began working with the Santana Chirino Amaya Refugee Committee at that time there was a solidarity movement blooming in Los Angeles to support the people of El Salvador here at the same time helping us to stop the war in the country. The Sanctuary movement started in 1984 and also help to bring awareness about the war in El Salvador and the reasons that meme many of us leave the country. In 1986, the city of Los Angeles became a sanctuary city for Salvadoran refugees. In 1990, the temporary Protective Status was granted to Salvadoran due to the local and congressional lobby work we did the prior years and with the help from congressman Mokly and Deconsini.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There hasn’t been a smooth road at all, coming to a different country with a different culture and language is hard, been away from one’s family. Learning to navigate the systems in order to survive and support my daughter who was three years old at that time.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am an activist a community organizer. I had worked for migrant rights, women’s health and worker’s right. Had organized domestic workers and had done lobby in Sacramento and Washington DC in order to stop the war in El Salvador. I also help on the establishment of the first-ever Central American Studies Program at Cal State Northridge in 1999. I am a mother of three, Sara, Tonatiuh and Sage. I am a poet, writer and have a particular interest on history and the historical memory as a tool to reconstruct our past in order to heal our present and future.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Consistency, compassion and resilience. Working in the community requires a lot of empathy and good ears. I love listening to people’s stories and have the patience to listen to them to open spaces for dialogues that help the community to explore their personal and family history.
- Instagram: lachanita_perez
- Facebook: Rossana Perez
Sara Aguilar, Trip Olfield