Peeling Away The Layers: Arthea Valderrama

A native of Singapore, VHS senior Arthea Valderrama refers to herself as an “onion with many layers, and only [her] friends can see what’s beneath the surface.”  Arthea is a lively, spontaneous teen whose seemingly carefree spirit hides the numerous layers hidden underneath. 

Arthea moved to America when she was five years old but still holds on to her favorite memory from living in Asia. She recounts spending nights with her older sister and father practicing swimming as something she’ll never forget. 

She expresses the difference in lifestyles and social climates, “people in Singapore care about other individuals not just themselves.” She laughs as she continues going on to explain why she misses life in Singapore. Arthea feels it is a much “nicer and tidier” place. 

The transition to Verona was a culture shock and a hard adjustment for her. She says she felt judged and isolated upon entering kindergarten. She felt like she needed to conform to the typical Verona lifestyle, causing her to become closed off and reserved from early on.

She feels as though her time spent in middle school allowed her to see that she can not trust people and those who genuinely care about her would understand why she is more closed off and removed from expressing emotions. 

However, Arthea was completely open about sharing her recent challenges amidst quarantine. She shared how the pandemic had impacted her in many ways that most do not know. Towards the end of March, just a few weeks after a state and countrywide lockdown, Arthea and her family contracted Covid. 

She recounts her experience as very painful and scary, “it was severe; I could hardly breathe.” This experience made it more important than ever for Arthea to remain in quarantine even after the country began to open back up.  She feels this caused her social skills to change. 

Despite this, Arthea has gained solace in “learning to love [herself]”, quarantine has allowed her more time to focus on her general health, physically and emotionally. 

Through all this Arthea finds that her art is something that makes her happy.  She has been able to find a creative outlet to paint her struggles. 

Arthea sees herself “making money and traveling” in the foreseeable future. She is looking into possibly working in the field of psychology as she says, “It is interesting to grasp how people behave and react; it would be nice to teach them how to heal from their pain.” 

Arthea may see herself as an onion that merely allows people to examine the surface but it is clear that she undoubtedly has a kind heart full of love and compassion.