This past Monday afternoon, after travelling for fifteen straight hours, I landed in Barcelona. My host family met me at the airport and drove me to their house in Reus. When I arrived at their house, I was greeted by both of the grandmothers, many animals, and a very Spanish meal. The grandmothers were very kind to me, and made sure I ate as much and even more than I could handle. After I ate with the family, we all stayed seated around the table, enjoying the sobremesa, talking for a while more.
I expected that I would be submerged in the Spanish language and culture, that I would see many old, antique buildings, and that I would come back to the states with bronze skin and a broadened food palate. What I did not expect from my trip was to become fascinated with the political situations in Spain with an aftermath of Franco’s dictatorship and the present efforts of some Catalonians to separate from Spain.
So far, I have not had to do much as an Au pair. I have had to help out in the mornings and at night when they come home from school, but I have had free time in between. Maria Gonzalez, their mom, owns a seasonal restaurant which I have been staying at during the day. At the restaurant, and in the car rides, Maria has explained to me the political situation in Spain. She explained to me that there are some people in Spain who believe that since there are differences in language between regions in Spain, these regions, specifically Catalonia, should separate from Spain. If Catalonia separates from Spain and becomes its own country, Catalonia would have to start over as a new country. Catalonia would have to apply for entrance into the European Union, chose and manage a form of money, and control imports and exports, among other things. Although Catalonians would not have to pay taxes to upkeep other regions, they would still have to pay taxes to Catalonia for their new country.
Because a significant amount of people have voiced this opinion, people in Catalonia have been insecure in their future prosperity. People do not want to make big purchases in Catalonia because they do not know if their purchase will be honored by a new government. Married couples from different regions do not know if their spouses will have to apply for citizenship to stay in their country. Businesses and industries who have their bases in the Catalonia region, such as a Coca-Cola factory, have moved to other areas in Spain to avoid any future trouble. This demonstrates even more difficulties for Catalonia’s separation. Catalonia is already experiencing the affects which would result from their separation from Spain.
This apprehension and insecurity in the future of the country is a result of a form of Nationalism. Some people ignore the history of Spain as a country and believe that just because certain people in a region have different beliefs or a different culture than people in a different region, they should not be united as a country. They view diversity in these cultures as a bad thing, and they praise unity through an altogether impossible practice of a same exact culture. In addition, they fail to recognize the almost impossibility in creating a successful new country with a booming economy. The only thing which matters is the sentimentality in forming a new country with the same culture. This form of nationalism is dangerous because it fails to recognize the upcoming problems, and the importance of diversity in society for its functioning. For Catalonia to function, they need people who are diverse and can do many different things. For the whole country to function properly, people need to perform their respective roles. Catalonia, with its own unique language, is still very Spanish. Everybody in Catalonia learns Spanish along with Catalan in school, Catalonians pay taxes to Spain, and Catalonia shares the traditions and history with the other regions in Spain.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.