The most important change in my academic track this year has been my decision to expand the program, which was made official in February. Instead of scurrying through my research planning now, and collecting data like mad until May, and analyzing and discussing and writing and revising frenetically until the 1 July submission date, I have been blessed with the resources and ability to push my thesis back until the fall. So I will return to Barcelona next fall to collect data for an ethnographic study on immigrant learning of Catalan and resulting sense of integration. I plan to visit Catalan classes offered by the city government, civic centers, the university, and public schools, and try to understand the Catalan policy of integration through language by studying the perspectives of students and teachers and comparing it with program objectives. I’ll defend my thesis next February, plenty of time to organize a thorough qualitative study. To support myself, I’ve applied to be an English teaching assistant in Spain much like I was last year in France, and am still waiting to hear about my placement.
Rotary events have continued to be regular, even as our leadership has changed. Now the four of us scholars in the Barcelona district have a new host counselor, who will help us organize presentations. He lives and works in the city, but unfortunately his club is located two hours away and will be difficult for us to have much contact with. On the other hand, our host club has not been extensively involved with helping us settle in, inviting us to events, and checking in on us; this will be the most unfortunate aspect of this year. The most accessible groups have, not surprisingly, been the young adult Rotaracts. I presented in one just last night, and I (and the group, I think) was pleased with how my Spanish has come along: I can present fluidly and coherently, without notes, while paying attention to the audience. Quite an accomplishment!
Finally, planning and logistics have kept me incredibly busy since I returned from Tenerife. I’ve been responsible for planning various parts of approximately four trips: one to the Spanish and French Basque country, last weekend, photos to follow; the long-awaited arrival of my parents and their European vacation, take two, beginning next Thursday; the visit of two Breton friends, and our following camping/road trip over spring break; and a very far-sighted service trip to Morocco in June with our sponsor Rotaract group to distribute reading glasses. Spring is always a busy season, full of possibility!
Donostia/San Sebastian, Spain
The "Wind Comb" by Eduardo Chillida