Click the image above to watch video of Nery Arevalo.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In a subterranean meeting room in the state Culture Center, Nery Arevalo is in his element.
You could say he is giving a lecture, but the big drum strapped around his neck and chest indicates a quite different sort of talk.
"Boom-BOOM-Boom-BOOM!" says the lecturer, striking the drum. And the dozen or so people seated in the room bang right back at him in syncopated response, hand drums cradled between their knees.
"The next thing I'd like to do is just to provide a blank space for everybody to create," says Arevalo, noting that he'd be pointing to people on the four-count. "We'll do this rhythm from Brazil called samba. And I'll say 'Regina,' and Regina will take a solo...'
The woman named Regina pipes up from her seat "Oh, no!" To which Arevalo counters: "Oh, yes, you will." He pauses. "Or it might be a silent solo!"
Laughter fills the room. The impromptu drummers are at a session on "The Arts in Healthcare," a growing discipline to bring the power of the arts to community health-care settings and to the work done by health-care professionals.
For Arevalo (whose first name usually gets transliterated into "Neddy"), the session represents another facet of him easing back into life in West Virginia once again.
Born in El Salvador, he came to America at age 12 with his parents, just as political turmoil began to turn life in that Central American land upside down with violence.