Day 4 +5 (June 19th + 20th)
Preface: During the trip, I justified my lack of journaling by telling myself that by looking at the daily trip itinerary, I would remember everything that happened. False!! Even as I piece together the days by looking at the timestamps of my photos, I have lost the beauty of the small moments.
Museum day! We hopped on the metro to Barceloneta, where we explored the history museum of Catalonia. In the lobby, two Tibetan monks were creating a sand mandala. This is a very time intensive process, and once it’s created, it’s tradition to destroy the artwork by blowing away the bits of colored sand, to represent the transience of life. The museum itself was super interesting, where each floor represented a time period for Catalonia. The two most interesting things I learned there were the folklore behind the creation of the Catalonian flag, and an exhibit demonstrating the difference in schooling pre and during Franco’s rule. The flag is known as the Senyera, and has 4 red, and 4 gold stripes. These stripes represented the crown king of Aragon. When the king of Aragon’s best soldier died protecting him, the king, with his hand coated in the soldier’s blood, used 4 fingers to draw a symbol on the soldier’s shield. These 4 bloody red stripes were then adopted into the Senyera, as the legend goes. Cooooooooool stuff.
We had burgers for lunch at Urban Dock, and then explored the Lost and Found flea market. My favorite purchase was a pair of silver Saturn dangly earrings that were… no, I shall not make tacky puns. Then, I headed back to la residencia and took the first of many 2 hour siestas on the trip. Later on, we had a group dinner at La Mar Salada, where we had our first seafood paella of the trip. I was quite excited about it on Snapchat, as you can see above.
We had a guest lecturer begin class today by telling us about Syrian refugees and the EU border management crisis. He insisted that it is NOT a refugee crisis. 1/3 of the Syrian population is displaced within Syria, and over 5 million refugees have fled from the country. A lot of the refugees ended up in Hungary, and Hungary did not want them. The right-wing ruling party created a fence around the border, and this created a domino effect within the EU. A borderless EU, one of the crown achievements of the EU through the 1995 Schengen Agreement, now became bordered.
Our class is right in the center of Passeig de Gràcia, so after class, we had lunch at Tapa Tapa, then checked out the exterior of Casa Batlló and of course, shopped. At 5:00 PM, we went to Espai Mescladís, where the founder of Mescladís told us about his NGO. Mescladís is a social project aimed at helping new refugees in Barcelona become economically stable by providing them training and jobs in fields such as the culinary arts and music. The restaurant in which we were sitting at is staffed by these people, and the profits from the restaurant go directly back into funding the program.
The group split in half, and my group went to go learn how to cook with one of these Mescladís members! The dish of the night was Tibetan dumplings. I have a general aversion to anything kitchen-related, but I have to say, the 2.5 hours spent preparing the dumplings were incredibly fun and tasty. We learned of our teacher’s migration story, and it was one of the most powerful narratives I’ve ever heard. Our immigration lectures were informative, but meeting individuals and putting a face to the countless news stories were my favorite part of this seminar.
Learn more about Mescladís here or check out their Facebook page!