I just finished my last week in Barcelona. Despite a tumultuous beginning, my time in Barcelona was extremely worthwhile.
Nothing ever went as planned, forcing me to deal with loneliness, get comfortable with the ambiguous, learn to say ‘orale’ (My Mexican version of Yes) always, and to confront my regrets head on. Around the last three to four weeks, everything slowly began to fall into place. I found myself in different groups and gatherings with immigrants, which allowed me to learn about many different cultures and places from inside Barcelona. I visited all sorts of non-profits and organizations who taught me that braiding creativity, social responsibility, and lots of patience is useful to slowly bring about change. I set-up and carried interviews with women, all of whom I was able to spent time with afterwards either to celebrate their birthday, hit-up their favorite and most recommended Barcelona spots, or just to be “guiris” together (Word used for tourists in Spain) and take lots of selfies.
At one point this week, I walked into my room and just said “I’m doing it!” It’d perhaps silly and/or cheesy, but learning how to actually do my project was the first hurdle I faced. Now I’ve realized, that defining and redefing my project–along with imagining and embracing how to do the Watson–is something I’ll have to continue learning how to do.
What was confirmed for me over and over again though was my love for my project. After every interview and every hangout with a woman I met, I was filled with so much joy. I was both reassured about many things but also surprised and illuminated in even many more ways. I interviewed my classmate Lidia who is an immigrant from Poland, and she was telling me how Barcelona is giving her an opportunity to grow as an artist and to show her work. After living in the countryside of Spain for some years, having the ability to work on her carer is very satisfying to her because as she explained, it’s art that recharges her. As the interview ended she took notice of how overly happy I was and we both agreed that this project is how I recharged my own soul battery.
These past few days were packed with lots of fantastic outings with my lady friends and very long draining hours of planning my travel for the following three weeks. ‘veI decided to visit Melilla, a Spanish city found in Northern Africa (within Morocco). It’s quite notorious now for its surrounding fence and aggressive military that police (and create) the border so prevent undocumented immigration from Africa into Spanish land. I thought I could also visit Nador, the Moroccan border town and the rest of the week, I will be in Fes to get some context of a place where many Barcelona immigrants are from as well as to explore a new place while I’m nearby!
After Morocco, I will be going to Madrid for a week to attend a conference on violence against women that will be put on by a women’s immigrant group. I’m hoping to help them with last minute things and hopefully do a cool collaboration activity at the event.
Once that’s over, I will be heading over to France to spend a week with a Taize community. Taize is a type of Christian prayer that ties together silence, candles, and singing. I used to practice while I was in high school and it has always been a source of light and peace for me. The Taize community in Burgundy France is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites for Taize prayer, and although not directly tied to my project, I think it will be a fruitful ending to my time in Europe and the beginning of my Watson journey before I head out to my next stop — the Dominican Republic.
Here are some amazing, soul-recharging moments from my last days in Barcelona.