La situación de los estudiantes indocumentados

LA INTRODUCCIÓN

Somos Dejza Brower y Rebecca Dooley y asistimos a la Universidad de George Mason. Estudiamos las relaciones internacionales, el gobierno y el español. Estamos interesados en las políticas de la nueva administración y también de la inmigración. Mason es una universidad muy diversa y, por lo tanto, la inmigración es un tema relevante en nuestro campus.

La inmigración ha sido un tema en las políticas por un tiempo. Sin embargo, la elección de Donald Trump y los republicanos en el Congreso crearon más tensión sobre este tema. La posición de Trump sobre la inmigración es más extrema que la de Obama y otros presidentes en el pasado reciente. Así que, decidimos a explorar el tema de la inmigración y los posibles efectos en los estudiantes de George Mason.

DACA Y TRUMP, por Rebecca 

Durante el mes pasado, Trump escribió tres órdenes ejecutivas sobre la inmigración. La que recibió mucha atención es la prohibición de viajar. Esta orden prohibió viaje desde siete países en el Medio Oriente. Había mucha conmoción y protestas. La segunda orden autoriza la construcción de la muralla que Trump usó como un argumento fuerte durante su campaña. Finalmente, la tercera orden amplía las categorías de inmigrantes en las prioridades de deportación. Creo que esta orden debería recibir más atención porque hay implicaciones muy serias para muchas personas. Ahora, no hay clases que son exentas de deportación, como en el pasado.

En 2012, Obama introdujo DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/ Acción Diferida). Esta legislación protege las personas, que tienen 15-30 años al tiempo de su aplicación, que llegaron a los Estados Unidos durante su juventud (no por su propia elección) de deportación. También, DACA les dan permisos de trabajo que son válidos por dos años. Cada de dos años, el receptor de DACA puede aplicar por renovación en el programa.

Aunque Trump no ha atacado DACA específicamente, algunos grupos activistas está advirtiendo los inmigrantes sobre este programa. Tienen miedo que la administración vaya a usar la información de los inmigrantes en DACA para deportarlos. DACA no puede evitar la deportación de una persona que es un criminal condenado o que es una amenaza a la seguridad nacional. Sin embargo, las reglas nuevas de Trump dicen que alguien que es acusado de un crimen, no es necesariamente culpable, pueden ser deportado.

Ya vimos algunos efectos de la orden de Trump, como más detenciones. Por ejemplo, en Seattle, ICE detuvo Daniel Ramirez Medina porque tiene un tatuaje que los oficiales pensaba que fue una marca de una pandilla. Ramirez tiene 23 años y está protegido con DACA. Tiene permiso para vivir y trabajar en los Estados Unidos. Los oficiales entraron a su casa porque estaban buscando su padre, pero detuvieron Ramirez cuando vieron su tatuaje. El congresista de California, Tony Cárdenas, dijo que es común por la policía ver un latino y le pregunta: “¿De qué pandilla eres un miembro?” Es una forma de discriminación dentro del sistema. En este caso, es probable que Daniel vaya a ser deportado porque es acusado como un miembro de una pandilla, aunque no hay un juicio para probar la acusación.

Una historia similar es con Jesús Alonzo Arreola Robles en California. Arreola Robles llegó a los Estados Unidos cuando tenía 18 meses y este país es su hogar. Ahora, Arreola Robles tiene 22 años y en febrero él fue detenido en ruta 94, una milla de la frontera mexicana. La policía pensaba que Arreola Robles estaba tratando de contrabandear una persona en los Estados Unidos. Entonces, Arreola Robles fue procesado por deportación. ICE lo mudó a Georgia y no permitió que Arreola Robles contactara con su abogado. Por un tiempo, su abogado no podía encontrar Arreola Robles en el sistema y no sabía dónde estuvo.

Según The Economist, soló personas que no están autorizados, están dentro de 100 millas de la frontera y estaban en los Estados Unidos por menos de 14 días, pueden ser deportados sin una audiencia en la corte. Por eso, en este caso, Alonso tiene los derechos de debido proceso, un abogado y un juicio.

Obama DREAM Act

Entrevista de Henry Lopez, por Rebecca 

Entrevisté a mi amigo, Henry, sobre las políticas de inmigración en nuestro país. Él llegó a los Estados Unidos cuando tenía cuatro años. Henry puede vivir en los Estados Unidos con DACA. Está interesado en las políticas y es muy informado porque las cosas que están ocurriendo son relevantes a su vida.

Obama ha advertido a Trump que no ponga en peligro DACA. También, dijo que sí Trump hace algo contra los DREAMers, Obama va a hablar públicamente sobre el tema, una acción rara de un antiguo presidente. En tu opinión, ¿cuando debería Obama hablar? 

“Creo que el anterior presidente Obama debe de mantenerse informado sobre las acciones de la administración pero creo que ahora no es el momento en que él debe de hablar sobre cada tema que él no esté de acuerdo con el presidente. En ocasiones en donde Trump firma acciones ejecutivas que son completamente extremas, como la accione ejecutiva que previene inmigrantes a algunos países de entrar a los Estados Unidos, son tan extremos que necesitamos la voz de cada líder en rechazarlo.

En el tema de inmigración, creo que lo que ha dicho la administración sobre no eliminar el programa DACA para los DREAMers es una buena señal que las cosas no van a empeorar para los recipientes del programa. El problema es en la manera en que la administración ha definido a quien debe ICE deportar. La administración ha dicho que van a deportar solo criminales, pero como han definido que es ser criminal, cualquier persona que ha hecho algo tan pequeño como manejar sin licencia, están en peligro en ser deportados. En esta situación creo que necesitamos voces de todos lados en rechazar estas medidas y acciones.”

¿Es la retórica de la administración perjudicial para todos los latinos? (no sólo los indocumentados)

“La retórica que el presidente tenía durante la campana creo que era bien perjudicial en contra de los latinos. Pero creo que ya que es presidente, él y su administración no necesitan tener una retórica prejudicial porque tienen el poder en firmar acciones en que reflejan esos pensamientos prejudiciales. La administración está gobernando en una manera en que ellos no necesitan ser prejudicial sino solamente necesitan hablar y actuar en una manera en que promociona acciones y pensamientos prejudiciales en los votantes.”

¿Hay algo que los estadounidenses pueden hacer para cambiar la conversación?

“Enfocar en las elecciones en 2018 y 2020. Toda la plática en las redes sociales es buena y necesaria, pero creo que al final del día, la única manera en que los demócratas y personas que no apoyan el presidente puedan ver cambio, es si cambian los representantes en este gobierno y esto va a ser posible en 2018.”

DREAMers, por Dezja Brower

Los DREAMers son un grupo nacional de las inmigrantes sin documentación quienes cumplen los requisitos para obtener el estado de DACA y sus aliados. El nombre del grupo está basado en el nombre del Acta Sueño (Desarrollo, alivio, y educación por menores extranjeros.)

Un grupo de estudiantes de la Universidad de George Mason fundó la organización de los “Mason DREAMers” en 2011. Esa organización acoge paneles de la acción estudiantil, entrenamientos de los aliados, eventos del compromiso de la comunidad y eventos de conversación entre de los estudiantes y el público también. Mientras que ese grupo es un grupo, ese grupo se consiste de estudiantes, como nosotros, quienes merecen igual tratamiento de nuestros.

Entrevista de Ana Tobar, por Dejza

Ana Tobar es una estudiante de cuarto año en la Universidad de George Mason estudiando ambos Asuntos Mundiales y Comunicación nació en El Salvador, pero es de Haymarket, Virginia. En la Universidad de George Mason, ella sirve como la presidenta interior de MASON DREAMers y también como aliado a muchas comunidades. De hecho, ella es la ganadora del premio “Aliado del Año” determinado por la Oficina de la diversidad, inclusión y educación multicultural. Ana ha acordado a participar en una entrevista con nosotros para hablar de los asuntos que afectan hoy la población de estudiantes sin documentación.

¿Cuándo llegó a los Estados Unidos?

“Hace dos años que recibí ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos, pero me mudé cuando tenía cuatro años”.

¿Cómo ha sido tu experiencia en los Estados Unidos? ¿En las escuelas? ¿Con sus amigos?

“Esa es la única experiencia que había tenido, no hay ninguna cosa a que puedo compararlo. Mi padre se movió aquí un año antes de nosotros con una autorización de trabajo. Mi familia y yo veníamos a los Estados Unidos para visitar a Él. Mientras que visitábamos, un terremoto grave golpeó en El Salvador. Ocurrió el 13 de enero 2001 y destruyó nuestra casa. No teníamos ningún lugar para volver. Debajo la administración de Bush, nos permitieron quedar en los Estados Unidos con condición protegido temporal. Tuvimos que renovar este estado, con los precios, cada dos años. Finalmente, el empleador de mi padre nos ofreció un patrocinio para la residencia permanente y después de dos años más, ganamos toda mi familia, la ciudadanía.

Crecí en un vecindario predominantemente blanco. Nunca conectaba con la comunidad latina hasta venía a Mason. Tenía vergüenza de ser la primera generación de estudiante colegio en mi familia—de ser latina porque nadie cerca de mi fue ni la primera generación ni latina.  En Mason, siento apoyada y educada de los asuntos latinos y de la inmigración. Ahora soy orgullosa de mi comunidad y la comunidad de dónde provenía. Nunca tenía miedo de la deportación, pero es una parte muy traumática de ser un niño o estudiante sin documentación.”

¿Ha cambiado tu experiencia y tus sentimientos de seguridad debajo esa administración?

“Para mí no, pero mis amigos sí, porque nosotros no tenemos una idea segura de que hará esa administración. Ellos dijeron que planea proteger la gente, y no honró su prometido. Ellos dijeron que planea proteger la DACA, pero nunca sabe nadie si esa es la verdad.”

¿Tiene Ud. algo comentario que quiere dar a la audiencia?

“Es importante educar tú mismo en las políticas de la inmigración y saber lo que ocurre siempre con los asuntos para actuar en lo que sabes.”

Para la siguientes dos preguntas, yo resumí las respuestas de Ana de un evento en campus sobre DREAMers y la inmigración.

¿Qué trabajo está haciendo Ana con esta situación importante en los Estados Unidos hoy?

De su posición con los Mason DREAMers, Ana ha hecho seguro que ella está educado sobre los asuntos y que ella tiene la habilidad a educar otras personas quienes le admiran para información y dirección. La organización de los Mason DREAMers también, una vez más, acoge talleres para la facultad y los estudiantes. En eses talleres, participantes pueden aprender sobre los asuntos y cómo ser aliados eficaces contra las políticas que amenazan a los estudiantes sin documentación.

¿Cómo podemos ayudar a las personas sin documentación todos los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos?

Ana misma es un ciudadana de los Estados Unidos. Ella cree que la cosa más importante que nosotros pueden hacer para ayudar los estudiantes de DACA es ser defensores de sus derechos y ser un voz para ellos cuando ellos no pueden ser su propio voz. Ella mencionó que muchas personas sin documentación son asustadas de defender sus derechos por miedo de la deportación y crímenes de odio.

Para más información sobre los detalles de DACA y cómo las políticas afectan los estudiantes de DACA y las personas con estado DACA quienes ya no son estudiantes, puedes visitar: https://www.facebook.com/iir.gmu/videos/743904505765193/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

LA CONCLUSIÓN

Cómo puedes ver, la situación de los estudiantes sin documentación en los Estados Unidos y en la Universidad de George Mason es muy compleja. Ellos no son sólo cómo se representan en los medios o por las personas contra inmigración y la DACA. Ellos son nuestros amigos, nuestras colegas, y a veces, ellos son nuestros aliados por nuestros asuntos. Nosotros debemos preocuparnos con sus luchas. Los estudiantes de George Mason que tienen preocupaciones o que quieren más información, pueden contactar Ana Tobar y los Mason DREAMers. Es importante que los estudiantes de GMU sean educados. Las acciones de nuestro gobierno afectan muchos aspectos de la vida.

 

 

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I AM (STER) DAM glad we came!

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A week off from school before exams? It’s every study abroad student’s dream, except maybe mine. I was absolutely swamped. With 6 final papers (2 assigned last minute) and 6 exams, I was spending every waking minute in the library and turning down every social opportunity.

Luckily though, I had booked my trip to Amsterdam back in October, so there was no getting out of this one. I was so excited to meet up with my friend, Kerry, from Cranford. She spent the semester in Jordan studying abroad, so we had not seen each other since August.

We me at the airport and managed to get on the right train to the center of Amsterdam. Our hostel was only supposed to be a 10 minute walk from the train station…easy enough, right? Nope. Google maps failed us completely.

An hour later, we made it to the hostel! Mission accomplished. Next, we needed dinner, and we picked a winner. We sat and drank and chatted over some delicious Mexican food—between Kerry’s adventures in the Middle East and my travels in Europe, we had a ton to catch up on. We ended our night by walking around the city and admiring all of the beautiful Christmas lights.

The next day was cloudy, but luckily not too cold (by Amsterdam standards). We took a canal tour through the city. Amsterdam has more than 100 kilometers of canals, lined with around 2,5000 houseboats. A houseboat seemed like a cool way to live, until our tour guide mentioned that if you live in a houseboat, you open yourself up to being photographed at any moment by tourists…even at 7am in your pajamas!

We then headed to the Anne Frank House Museum, which I think has come to be one of my favorite memories from my entire semester abroad. The first section of the museum was just a few empty rooms with videos…so I started wondering what all the hype was about. But then, we reached the bookcase. The bookcase was a section of the wall that was moveable—it hid the entrance to the part of house where the Frank family hid. The moment I touched the original bookcase that Miep Gies moved each day to get to the Franks, was the moment everything became real.

The Frank family left Germany after the Nazi Party won the elections in 1933. Otto Frank set up a business in Amsterdam, and he moved his family there. On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank received a diary, what would ultimately become the most important thing she owned. A month later, the family went into hiding in a secluded part of Otto’s office building.

I walked through the rooms where the Franks hid for two years, and still couldn’t imagine what their life had been like. Imagine not being able to go for a walk for two years, not being able to feel the sun on your face, eat your favorite meal, or see your friends…all because of one fascist, racist person who somehow managed to poison the minds of millions while so much of the world stood by as guilty bystanders or, maybe even worse, in utter ignorance.

At the end of the museum, there was a video of celebrities talking how they were inspired by Anne Frank’s story. The most moving quote came from actress Emma Thompson: “All of her would haves are our possibilities.” Let that sink in. We will return to this later.

Day 3 began at the A’DAM Lookout, an observation deck with a panoramic view of the city. Kerry and I took a thrilling ride on Europe’s highest swing “Over the Edge.” Next we hit the bar with a view for some afternoon wine. Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?! You can’t go to Amsterdam and not visit the Heineken Experience, so that’s exactly what we did. A tour, a movie with moving seats, and three beers later, it had been a great day. We ended the night with a yummy dinner, Mexican again, and just like that, our last night in Amsterdam was over. What amazing trip with one of my best friends!

“All of her would haves are our possibilities.”

Anne Frank wanted to be a journalist. I’ve been seriously considering journalism, as I have come to really like writing. Maybe that’s one of her would haves that can become my possibility.

I know Anne Frank wanted to change the world. She wanted to make people kinder, spread love, and demolish hate. I hope those would haves become our realities. Here’s to a brighter, better, and kinder 2017. Make it happen, it’s on us now.

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Firenze

Florence is a city filled with so much history, beauty, art, architecture, and culture… but most importantly, it was filled with my family at Thanksgiving!

I was STILL sick from my Prague trip, but I arrived in Italy ready for good food, wine, and of course, people. My trip to Italy was by far the most frustrating experience I’ve had traveling in Europe. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. BUT I made it, and met my aunt, uncle, and cousins at Piazzale Michelangelo just in time for the sunset. My first impression of Florence was this beautiful view of the entire city. We had a wonderful dinner (pumpkin ravioli!) and great conversations.

We started the next day bright and early, heading to the Duomo. Unfortunately, tickets were sold out to climb the Duomo, but we did climb the Bell Tower, which was still breathtaking. The staircase was treacherous and tiring, but we somehow we made it to the top, and when we did, the view was worth every huff, puff, and drop of sweat.

We waked back down and entered the cathedral where we saw the dome from the bottom. I was thankful to have my camera to take some pictures and zoom in to see the detail of the beautiful artwork. The cathedral was constructed from 1296-1436; however, it was built on the site of an ancient 5th century structure. Despite the large number of tourists, I could sense the holiness of this place, especially while standing at the alter, under the dome.

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Next stop: Baptistery of Saint John. The building rendered me speechless. It is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, constructed between 1059-1128. The gold ceilings and beautiful frescos were truly incredible.

I think my favorite part of the day was when we reached a bridge and saw the pure blue sky and white clouds reflected on the water. I could have stayed on that bridge forever.

It was a quick trip but a very meaningful one. I am looking forward to returning to Italy—to Rome next time—when my finals are over.

Special shout out to my cousin, Heather, who studied in Florence this semester and served as our official tour guide!

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Praha!

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” –John Lennon

Leading up to my trip to Prague, I was feeling very discouraged. I was drowning in schoolwork and coming down with a bad cold. I seriously considered skipping the trip, but I knew my best friend and cousin, who I was meeting in Prague, would not be pleased with me. And, I am SO glad I decided to go!

I had to leave my apartment at 6:45am, and for the first time in Madrid, I saw the sun rise while on the train to the airport. I think it was a sign that I made the right decision to follow through with the weekend in Prague.

I made it to my hostel in Prague and found my best friend waiting for me. I have met some great people here in Madrid, but nothing compares to spending time with an old friend. Of course, the first thought on our minds: “FOOD!” We met my cousin Heather and her friend for burritos, and I think they were good but I wolfed it down far too fast to taste it.

Next stop: the John Lennon Wall. The wall got its name because the first thing ever painted on the wall was John Lennon’s face and some song lyrics following his assassination in 1980. Because Western images and symbols were banned at this time in Czechoslovakia by the Communist regime, the artwork was seen as a rebellion and was removed. However, that one painting was enough to start a trend—the wall became a place for anti-communism proclamations. After the fall of communism, the wall transformed into a place for social activism and artistic expression. You will not see the same façade two days in a row because there is always someone painting something new. Naturally, my favorite was “Love Trump’s Hate.”

We then continued exploring the city, walking over the Charles Bridge into the Old Town. We saw the Astronomical Clock and the little show that happens at the top of the hour. The clock was installed in 1410 in the Old Town Hall and is the oldest astronomical clock still operating.

We had a traditional Prague meal of beef with bread dumplings and potatoes, and of course a Czech beer. Charly and I headed back to hostel early, tired after a day of travailing. Classic Charly and Rebecca move: we didn’t actually go to bed early but instead spent hours talking and catching up about our experiences abroad. Did you really have a slumber party with your best friend if you didn’t talk all night?

The next morning we were up and out fairly early. Our first stop was the Prague Castle. We were quite confused when we arrived and it was not a castle like we pictured in our minds (you know, that medieval Cinderella type). Instead, the Prague Castle is more of a complex of different buildings, creating a village within the city. Dating back to the 9th century, the Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. My favorite part was the gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus. The site of St. Vitus has been home to cathedrals since 910, and St. Vitus was constructed beginning in 1344. Just as it was almost finished in the 1500s, it was severely damaged by a fire. It was not until the 1860s that renovations and plans to complete the cathedral began. The cathedral was finally finished in 1929, 600 years after it was begun.

In one afternoon we ate some amazing sushi (apparently Prague is known for having the best sushi in Europe), I had a great latte, and we shared a heavenly fondue platter. Every bite and calorie was completely worth it. That night we both ordered Czech goulash in bread bowls. Needless to say, it was a great food day.

The next morning we waked by the Vltava River and explored the Jewish Quarter, Josefov. Josefov dates back to the 13th century when Jewish people were ordered to leave their homes and settle in one area. The neighborhood grew as more exiled Jews began coming from across Europe. The area’s six synagogues, the Ceremonial Hall, and the cemetery all survived Hitler’s regime because he declared Josefov a “Museum of an Extinct Race.”

We then stumbled across this huge candy shop, so obviously we went in and discovered they had a museum with chocolate tastings and praline-making demonstrations. I’m still dreaming about that chocolate.

It was time to say goodbye to Charly, but I still had a few hours to kill before my flight, so I ventured over to the Old Tower of the Charles Bridge. Climbing the tower was the perfect way to end my weekend in Prague. I got to see the entire city and was left with that final image of beauty in my mind.

I had a comical taxi ride to the airport. Even though I told him I did not speak Czech, the driver talked the entire time and at one point showed me pictures of his “women” with their pet cat. He also blasted some Czech screamo music and was an enthusiastic steering wheel drummer. Due to bad weather in Madrid, my flight was delayed, and I could feel myself getting sicker by the minute (whatever I was coming down with before I arrived in Prague was getting worse). I missed my train from the Madrid airport and was forced to take an expensive taxi ride back to my apartment. I arrived home feeling very sick, frustrated, and exhausted. I was feeling a little discouraged by all of this and worried about my week to come with schoolwork, but of course my brilliant mother shined some wisdom down on me all the way from NJ reminding me how important it is to take care of myself first, and that I will get the work done, because I always do. “Rebecca, everything will be fine.” And she was right, moms are always right.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you will join us, and the world will live as one.” –John Lennon

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

Not being home for my favorite holiday is/was a little weird. I’m having major FOMO seeing all my friends and family home together (and seeing pictures of the delicious food!!! *sigh*). However, I feel lucky to have spent Thanksgiving evening with some cool people here in Madrid. We showed a few Europeans what it’s all about!

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Being on my own in Madrid, especially this past week, I had some extra time to reflect the things I am most thankful for this year.

First of all, I am beyond grateful to be abroad this semester—I cannot describe how thankful I am for this experience. I still have a month left and am not quite ready to reflect about my experience as a whole, but I absolutely have to say a HUGE thank you to my parents for allowing me to have this opportunity. Thank you for taking my crying phone calls and for always knowing just what to say to keep me going. Also, thank you both so much for visiting me in Madrid! I hope you enjoyed your time here as much as I did. (Ryan, wish you could have been here too!)

You know the cliché phrase “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”—well it’s so true. I have some truly amazing people in my corner, and I’m not sure where I would be without them to help me walk through this life. (Ok, so I can guess where I would be: face-flat on the floor, probably). As Jamie Tworkowski says, “People need other people,” and being away from all “my people” this semester has reminded me how true this is.

To my friends from Jersey: There’s something to be said about getting out of our hometowns, going to college, traveling the world, BUT there’s also nothing like coming home to you all each and every time. Cranford is where I feel most like myself, most comfortable, and there’s no doubt it is because I am surrounded by my favorite people. Thank you all for sticking by my side for so long. You have given me more than I can ever return XO

GMU peeps: Just because I’m a Jersey girl at heart does not mean Virginia doesn’t hold a piece of my heart—because it does. You are all some of the smartest and kindest people I have ever encountered, and you accept me and my craziness on a daily basis (even when I’m bugging out over school). You have challenged me to think differently, inspired me to have bigger dreams, and most importantly, you tolerate my Beyonce karaoke 😉

Fam: Whether it is a gathering of the Dooley clan or the Wieczoreks, I can always count on my family to make me laugh so hard that I cry and to tell one too many embarrassing stories (and they wonder why I don’t bring friends around…). I feel like I spent more time than usual with many of you this summer, and for that, I am very thankful. Many of you have given me life advice I will never forget, and all of you have shaped some part of who I am through the experiences we have shared together. See you all at Christmas!

Beauty in Granada

It’s easy to get caught up in the “study abroad culture”—seeing how many countries you can visit in one semester—that it’s possible to miss the beauty that’s right in your backyard.

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Okay, so Granada is not my backyard, but just a 4-hour bus ride away and still in Spain. Granada is the capital city of the province Andalusia in the south of Spain, sitting at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Granada has been populated since at least 5500 BC and had both Roman and Visigoth inhabitants. In 711, the Muslims (Moors) famously conquered Spain; they gained control of Granada with the help of the Jewish community in the area. As the Spanish began their reconquest, Muslims took refuge in Granada for hundreds of years. The Catholic Kings completed the reconquest in 1492, finally capturing Granada.

Today, Moorish culture (Mudéjar) continues to permeate the city. After the reconquest, Muslims were forced to convert to Catholicism, becoming Moriscos (Catholics with Moor decent). Most of the synagogues were either made into Catholic churches or completely destroyed. However, now, Granada is a city where the three cultures and religions thrive both independently and intertwined with each other.

Upon arriving in Granada, I walked around the Arab stores and markets (bought some cool pants!). I entered a tea shop and thought I went to heaven. The sweet smells and endless supply of tea was enough to make me want to stay there all afternoon.

After finally deciding on my purchases, I went on a walking tour of the Albaicín, the oldest part of the city with heavy Muslim influence. We saw the old city gates and walls, as well as the picturesque white houses.

We ended the night with a Flamenco show in the Sacramonte neighborhood. Sacramonte is located on a hill and is known as the old neighborhood of the Romani, who settled in Granada after the conquest of the city. The show was intimate and the venue’s decorations really set the scene.

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On Sunday, we visited the Alhambra, which is the most famous site in Granada. The Alhambra started as a small fortress in the 9th century and gradually grew through the 15th century. It served as the palace for the Muslim Sultan until the Spanish reconquest when it became a palace for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (the Catholic Kings).

It is difficult to put the Alhambra into words. The Mudéjar architecture is intricate and beautiful. It was hard to capture the beauty via photograph. The rooms were small and many were dark, but it is a place that will forever be ingrained in my memory.

The gardens of the Alhambra were seemingly endless. They were breath taking and so colorful.

I climbed to the top of one of the towers where I saw one of the most beautiful sights of my life: the Sierra Nevada Mountains covered in snow in the distance contrasted by the palm trees right below me. I posted this caption on Instagram:

“Adjust your ~altitude~ I can’t stop thinking about how humbling this view was. I felt so small, but not in a bad way. It’s a big world- the people, the places, the beauty, the pain… maybe our own problems are not so huge after all.”

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As so much of our country is in turmoil, it is so important to keep perspective in mind. I am hurting too. I am scared—for my future and for the future of those I love, but I have to have hope that we will be okay. It’s all we’ve got left. God’s hands create beautiful things, and I know we are all in his hands.

Keep your head up, continue getting up each morning and conquer each day. Together, as women, as Millennials, as minorities, as Americans, we can do big things.

XOXO

“Strut like you mean it!” (in Barcelona)

*if you appreciate my Cheetah Girls reference, you’re welcome*

Hello beautiful people!!!

Between midterms and following the election news, I have been super busy lately! Now that it’s just a waiting game, I thought it would be a great time to distract myself and update my blog.

I recently had a four-day weekend, and so I spent it in the beautiful city of Barcelona. This trip was extra special because I spent it with my cousin, Heather, and got to see a friend from high school! I was so amazed by Barcelona’s beauty, culture, and diversity. Four days was not enough!

On Friday, we started our trip with a walking tour of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, an interesting neighborhood with a mix of medieval and 19th/20th century architecture. One highlight was the Barcelona Cathedral (Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia). It was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with a new neo-Gothic façade built in the 19th century. Eulalia of Barcelona is the co-patron saint of the city and was a martyr during 4th century Roman times. I returned to this Cathedral on Monday night to go inside, and after only 15 minutes, there was an announcement that mass was about to begin so visitors should either leave or stay for the mass. By this point, at the end of my trip, I was exhausted, my feet hurt, and I had not yet seen the whole cathedral. Being the eve of a holy day of obligation, I decided to rest my feet and sit down for mass. I am so glad I did. It was my first mass all in Spanish, and I think I understood the majority of it, which is a success in my book!

After the Gothic Quarter, we walked down to the Port Vell and saw the beautiful Mediterranean.

Finally, I laid eyes on the highly anticipated Sagrada Familia by Gaudí. The outside of the cathedral is intricate, unique, and massive. I am glad I did not know much about this cathedral beforehand because it made entering it that much more breath taking (tears may have been shed…). Unintentionally buying my ticket for late afternoon when the sun was low enough in the sky to directly enter the multitude of stained glass windows was, I’m convinced, a gift from the big man upstairs.

Saturday was Park Güell day! If you Google Barcelona, you are likely seeing pictures of this park, designed by Gaudí, famous for its mosaics. I spent hours here, completely in awe of all the mosaics and the views of the city form the park. The park was originally intended to be part of a commercial housing development, but that failed, and instead it became the famous public park. Park Güell was beautiful, relaxing, and so picturesque. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of Barcelona.

Sundays are lazy days in Barcelona, or so it seems. Many stores are closed, and we found ourselves wandering unsure of what to do. Heather and I had brunch at a well-known restaurant called Brunch&Cake (shoutout to that quinoa burger). Sunday night I met up with a friend from high school, Claire. We ate at a great restaurant, Cervecería Catalana, where we devoured delicious tapas and enjoyed some fabulous sangria. After dinner, we headed to the Bunkers of Carmel for a view of the city. I had been sick throughout this trip, and so picture this: me walking up a huge hill while congested and without my inhaler. Yeah, no bueno. BUT the view was worth every wheezing breath.

I spent my last day in Barcelona walking in and out of more stores than I could count in the city center. Barcelona is the place to go if you like fashion and shopping!

I was reminded how important it is to research and plan BEFORE my trips. There were a few places in Barcelona I could not see, such as Gaudí’s Casa Batlló, because I did not get tickets in advance, and I’m sure there were others I missed out on simply because I failed to research beforehand. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, and it was made even better by the people I shared it with 🙂

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