Interview: Not so contrasting opinions
18 mayo, 2012
Michelle Proietti was born in Oswego, NY and in September 2006 decided to take a study abroad trip to Barcelona that would essentially change the course of her life. She fell in love with Spain’s atmosphere, it’s people and quality of life. Michelle decided in 2009 that she would return permanently to Spain to finish her masters at Carlos the 3rd University and start a life here in this beautiful country. Now, the resident coordinator of the exchange program at UEM, English teacher and singer/song writer.
This picture was taken of my program group on one of my very first days arriving in Spain (Michelle the second one from the right). She wasted no time in showing us around Madrid and helping us get our bearings in the foreign country we were about to live in for the next 5 months.
Since she is a very busy lady we decided to set up a Skype interview to talk about how she felt about the current issues going on here in Spain. I thought it would be interesting to get an Americans point of view that has lived her for a sufficient amount of time now, and especially because of when she moved here. Needless to say she had a lot to say on the matter.
Q. Have you personally witnessed changes in Spain during your time living here?
A. A lot of closed businesses would be the obvious one. Physically the people here are not consuming as much, you don’t see people walking around with bags from department stores and things like that as much. A lot more discounts, with the quality of stores changing. Also what I think is interesting is you see a lot more right-winged radical flags on peoples cars. In the States it’s pretty normal to have flags on your cars, but here you could be considered a fanatic, which used to not necessarily be a good thing, but obviously times are changing.
Q. What are your thoughts on the economic crisis?
A. We had it coming. I don’t think it would have been the most lingering problem, but the way it was dealt with made it a lingering problem. These actions have made the unemployment problem grow, and I think instability can cause people to take advantage of things for example, privatizing public services such as education and health care, and use the crisis as an excuse for doing so.
Q. Speaking of universal health care, which is a big difference between Spain and the US, in your onion which is better?
A. Well, the US is pushing for public health care right now and Spain is trying to privatize, so you could say neither works well. There is a large elderly population here in Spain, which goes back to the crisis; the work force is shrinking because there are no jobs and many elderly people. Less people are putting money in, and more people wanting to collect from the health care system.
Q. Your mother-in-law is involved in politics, what has that been like?
A. Yes, her name is Lali Vaquere and she is a delegate for the United Left (Izquierda Unida), within the community of Madrid, on the education council and director of the national party. She is more on the regional level rather than the national. It’s been really interesting to have insight on the issues here like where the decisions come from, why, the pros and cons. This is normal dinner conversation for us. And I’ve had the lucky opportunity to be invited to where all the politicians watch the elections together last November, and be her guest to the parade last May the 2nd in the Puerto del Sol where all the politicians stand.
I wanted a Spaniards insight on the economic crisis, so I asked my host brother Edwardo Marquez his thoughts as well. Interestingly enough, they were not that different from Michelle’s. Edwardo is a worldly man, having lived in England for 5 years and France for 3 and knows Spanish, English, Italian and French.
Q. What are your thoughts on the economic crisis here in Spain?
A. We started building a lot of things for the past 25 years after Franco died and now building has stopped and there are no jobs for people. There is absolutely nothing here in Spain manufacturing wise, for example, the Unites States has Ford and things like that, the only thing Spain has is housing developments and tourism. I think that if there was no tourism we would be much further in crisis than we are now. And the government is making it worse by cutting employment which sets off an obvious chain reaction. When I lived in France and England I had no trouble at all finding a job, or leaving one job and finding another one practically the next day. That’s how it should be.
My host family, Edwardo on the very right.
By: Crystal Blankenbaker