Hey everyone! I really liked the response I got to Erin’s interview. (Well, except for one, but when you bring up anything even semi-controversial, I suppose you can expect some of that!) So I decided to reach out to another woman of color in Spain, Sarah. Again, we “met” on Twitter, and she has lived in Valladolid for the past year. Now she’s coming to Madrid! But I’ll let her do the introducing.
Just as an aside to any Spaniards reading: With these interviews, I aim to highlight a different side of Spain and blogging about Spain. In no way am I saying racism here is worse than in the U.S.; it’s just different. And, yes, it exists in Spain as well as the U.S.! The women I have interviewed here like Spain, even love it.
I don’t remember when, but a few years I got a notification that someone new was following me on Twitter. I used to check everyone’s profiles to see why the person was following me of all people. The new follower’s name was Erin, apparently she lived in California, and she loved … Real Madrid? Odd, I thought, but I decided to follow her back. And what a good decision it was! Erin has definitely increased my love for Real Madrid, and she has shared her experiences in Spain via her blog but also via Twitter.
Erin has a much more unique perspective on her time in Spain than most blogs. Why? Simply put, she’s not white. A lot of the “Expat in Spain” blogs are written by people just like me, and that can get a boring and monotonous, don’t you think? After reading one of Erin’s most poignant blog entries on racism in the classroom, I thought about interviewing her, because you people must get tired of so many white-chick-dating-a-Spanish-dude stories. So here you are; I hope you will find it as interesting and thought-provoking as I do.
In March of 2001, Spain’s then-Minister of Defense Federico Trillo, made a huge announcement: “Señoras y señores, se acaba la mili.” My husband, Mario, was then in his first year of university, studying translation and interpretation—he hadn’t had to do the formerly obligatory military service, nor had his brother. As for me, Spain was the last thing on my mind: I was in eighth grade and planning on taking Japanese, not Spanish!
But for over 200 years, Spain’s young men were expected to their duty and spend just over a year in the military, ever since King Carlos III introduced conscription in 1770 (the idea came before him, however). He issued an order in which one in five young men of military age would be conscripted. These names would be drawn from a list, a census, of young men.
And so it was for a long time. Although my husband and his brother were not affected, my father-in-law did indeed serve. I decided to interview him. When I sent him a list of a few brief questions, he replied with a four-page document. (He is nothing if not diligent and studious!) I will include his answers in Spanish, which I will then translate for my non-Spanish-speaking readers, of which I have a few.
¿Con qué edad tenías que alistarte?How old were you when you had to sign up [for the military]?
Wait, what? I thought this thing was the other way around? … You are right, my dear reader, you are right. But when one of my former interviewees, Kate, contacted me about doing a reverse interview, I thought, “Why not?” So I sent her boyfriend, Jorge, an interview, and he graciously filled it out for me. Kate blogs at Kate in Spain.
Now, I conducted the interview with Jorge in Spanish, because I believe writing/speaking in one’s native tongue allows one to be more forthright and expressive. So, I’ll be including his answers in Spanish and translating them as best I can.
¡Muchas gracias por hacer la entrevista! (Thank you for agreeing to do the interview!)
Por favor, preséntate. (Please introduce yourself.)
Hola! Me llamo Jorge y vivo en León. Soy profesor de música en un instituto de la ciudad y enseño violín por las tardes.
Hello! My name is Jorge and I live in León. I am a music teacher in a city high school and I teach violin in the afternoons.