Saturday, September 25, 2010

The generation that is hoping for Plan B

I have an acquaintance who is a waitress even though she has a high-level science degree. These days some people would consider her to be lucky to have any kind of paid work.

"For Spain’s twenty-somethings, the dream was over before it began. Two years after Wall Street crashed, a crisis that seemed far away has now taken over their lives.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe, and joblessness is most severe among the under 25s. The question people like Iván Miguel, fired from his job as a waiter the day after Spain won the World Cup, are asking is whether they are doomed to a life without meaningful employment.

The first part of an EL PAÍS report on Spain's "Generation in crisis."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

“They piss on us, and the newspapers say it’s raining.”

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano says he saw these words painted on a wall in Buenos Aires once.

"Walls are the printing press of the poor. Yes, it’s still raining and language is the tool of lies...The international community is simply a club made up of bankers and warmongers who control the world."

Last week Galeano visited Madrid and gave this interview to El Pais newspaper.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Made in Catalonia

Catalan culture continues to be spread in Australia. The Casal celebrates its 3rd annual 'Made in Catalonia' Film Festival (MiCFF) by presenting this year in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra [my city of birth.]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why is sport a good thing in Catalonia?

Our 9 year old son Hugo played his first two games of roller hockey (hoquei patins) for the Vilafranca club today and what struck me is the same thing I am usually struck by at sporting events here: the atmosphere is one of congeniality.

Unlike children’s sport in some countries (such as England, where parents were banned from all state school sporting events because of abuse, fights and general nastiness) my impression of amateur sport in this part of the world is that it is for enjoyment not for the venting of spleen.

The atmosphere is civilized, the other parents are generally friendly (though sometimes a bit shy and cliquey) and the kids get a pleasant experience along with a healthy amount of fair competition.

As a teacher as well as a parent, this is not my first time with children doing sport so my opinion of the way it is done here is not just from this one day.

It seems likely to me that this amiability balanced with the right amount of seriousness to do well is one reason why Spain are current European and world champions. Amateur coaches are well-trained and largely well-respected instead of being blamed for results.

Some older kids in our son’s roller hockey club have a hand in training and looking after the younger players and this is not unusual at all. It helps those player-coaches to develop responsibility and is a natural way to give them time before they may become adult coaches.

I am looking forward to our son growing up in this kind of environment.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The people next door

Spain is one of the EU countries with the largest volume of foreign residents, data released by the European Union’s Statistics Office, Eurostat, revealed.

In total, there are 5.7 million foreign residents in Spain— or 12 percent of the population — second only to Germany with 7.2 million. Of the total in Spain, 2.2 million foreign residents hail from the EU.

Romanians are the largest foreign group in Spain, followed by Moroccans, Ecuadorians, Britons and Colombians.

Report from El País newspaper.