The past week has been CRAZY!
I haven’t even been in the office for almost a week. Last Wednesday we went to the press hub for the independence day demonstration and helped set everything up, and then we started checking in members of the press and giving them their press badges…..went home for a little break, and started the same process again early Thursday morning. We had 1000 members of the press come to cover our event on Thursday. And I got to speak to them and make sure that they knew where to go, how to get internet connection, how to get into the special press areas…pretty awesome.
So September 11th is Catalonia’s independence day, and ever since they lost independence 300 years ago, they’ve celebrated it and remembered the war that caused them to lose independence. On the evening before the 11th, there is a walk from one end of the city to another, where there is a memorial to those who they lost in the war, and people carry torches on the entire walk to commemorate them. I got to participate in this walk and it was truly moving and special, especially in this year that means so much to the people here.
On independence day for the past few years, my organization has organized big demonstrations that bring the people of Catalonia together and show the world that they want independence and they want democracy - and that they are a peaceful group who just wants to celebrate their national day and get together for a cause that they are all passionate about. It’s pretty frustrating, as you could imagine, when people call these gatherings on independence day “protests.” Even the word “demonstrations” doesn’t sound right - it evokes thoughts of violence and anger. These people aren’t angry, they just want to vote. And they want to celebrate their culture, which is exactly what they did last Thursday.
1.8 Million people came to Barcelona to fill two streets that run diagonally to each over, to make a “V” which stands for “vote.” My organization put the whole thing together, so you can imagine my pride when they pulled it off without a hitch.
I was in the press hub most of the day — talking with journalists, writing and translating press releases, etc. I even got interviewed for a Spanish TV station about how many members of the press we had, how many participants we had, etc. I was right in the middle of the action without actually being in the action at all.
Luckily, I got to go outside and see the “V” from the very top of it, the vertex. I didn’t go into the crowd - everyone emphasizes how peaceful the people are, but being an NU student abroad I wasn’t about to put myself in the middle of a huge crowd, just in case. But it was actually even better to be on the outside, because I could see down the whole line of people singing, dancing, chanting. And they even did a wave down the entire street!!
My coop allowed me to be a part of this amazing gathering of people that most certainly made history. I feel so lucky to be here and to be part of this movement, watching things develop from the inside and seeing how it affects people on the outside.
The next phase of the campaign starts soon, where they will start registering people to vote on November 9th and will be asking people what they want from their “new country.” I am learning more here about state building, democracy, political movements, and government relations than I would ever be able to learn in a classroom.
Next week my parents come to visit! And another coop from Madrid is coming to see beautiful Barcelona! We’re going to the Sagrada Familia together, which I am so excited about! So my next post will definitely be a more fun, picture-filled one :)0