A Fotito with the President of Spain
While studying abroad in Spain with Centro MundoLengua I have had a uncountable number of unique experiences, ranging from attending a VIP wine tasting at SIMOF (the premier flamenco fashion show in Seville) with la Presidenta of Marques Caracas wine company to chatting with Miss Spain about her life milestones and her secrets to success. This semester I was anxiously awaiting the defining experience of my semester abroad in Seville that I could brag to all my friends about. Between the cultural and social events hosted by Centro MundoLengua and hanging out with my Spanish friends I met in classes or during intercambio events, I knew that eventually an opportunity such as those already described would present itself.
Through a mutual friend, I met a student who works for the Partido Popular (PP), the political party that currently holds control over the executive branch of Spain. After debating and discussing politics and culture (which is much calmer and more civilized here in Spain), for a solid two to three hours, he invited me to a closed, yet televised political event where the PP (Partido Popular) and the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, would present their candidate for President of Andalusia and other subordinate candidates. Of course I accepted the offer.
The day of the event we met in Dos Hermanas, the next town over, to take a charter bus to the event. We entered the pavilion where we had a spectacular view of the stage. The first hour or so was a little bland. The minor candidates of course played traditional politics, putting all the blame of the region’s problems on the incumbent PSOE politicians (The Socialist Party of Spain).
However, after intermittent musical breaks Mariano Rajoy finally appeared on the stage and he began his discourse. First he spoke about the economic condition of Spain and specifically that of Seville. He cited that although the economy still had a lot of room to improve that the economy as a whole had grown substantially. Moreover, the European Commission drastically increased its growth outlook for Spain from 1.7% to 2.3%, the highest predicted growth projection of any country in the Eurozone. Additionally, Rajoy made clear that “Spain is not Greece” and that the economic reforms that Greece is considering that are beginning to gain traction in Spain (through the political party Podemos), would be counteractive and threaten Spain’s superior projected growth rate. I especially found Rajoy’s speech interesting as an Economics major and I also enjoyed being able to hear first hand what political reactions the crisis has evoked, which is something most of us only hear about on the news. Finally, Rajoy ended his speech by expressing his support for each of the PP candidates of Andalusia. After that my friends and I assumed the event was over and we slowly began to exit the pavilion.
Although the speech was over, the event was not. President Mariano Rajoy continued to mingle with the candidates and eventually made his way toward the exit. My friends and I decided to follow the President of the Government and one-by-one we pushed our way through the crowd until we reached Mariano Rajoy.
Due to the hectic atmosphere, we each aggressively introduced ourselves to the President and asked for a picture, which I did get! However, the defining moment of this event was that I spoke with the President of the Government – in Spanish! “Hola, soy Dylan Kramer. Soy de los Estados Unidos y estoy aquí en España para estudiar durante el año. También si puede usted me gustaría sacar una foto.”
Although maybe not the best of my professional introductions, the fact that I could speak to the President of the Government in Spanish and for him to respond, “¡Claro!” affirmed that my study abroad experience in Seville, Spain had paid off. Immediately, I put the photo on Facebook, which was met with mixed comments (Spaniards who like Rajoy and those who were not so fond of him and Americans asking, “who even is that?”), but I didn’t care. It was more than a photo with a political figure: It was a defining moment that personified my language proficiency and through this proficiency I was able to meet and briefly chat with President Mariano Rajoy, and even take a fotito.