I made a realization recently that the women that I´ve encountered and grown close to during my various adventures in Spain are strong, powerful women who are pretty great role models without even trying.
It´s hard not to come across an example as I look back on my three trips to Spain.
Elena, my host mom in San Sebastian, was a nurse. In true Basque fashion, she was a strong woman. She had strong political opinions that she often shared at the dinner table while sipping on a nice cold beer.
Patricia, the San Sebastian program director, was not a force to be reckoned with. During the Madrid tour, she showed off a typical “worried mother” side where she instilled a fear that Spaniards will steal your stuff. Not may. Will. And she helped direct us all around Madrid, as well as our new “home town” of San Sebastian, all while effortlessly switching between fluent Spanish and English. Even though that is expected of an educational program director in Spain, I still find it absolutely amazing when someone can be so fluent in two languages and also toggle between the two with no problem at all. And I am pretty sure she also knew Basque.
Speaking of Basque, my Basque language/culture professor, Natalia, was an amazing person as well. She knew Spanish, English, Basque, German and even some Mandarin. And she was only in her early 30s. She was mature from her worldly travels, yet had the childlike happiness of simply talking about her family and Basque culture. Her class was so exciting and fun because she thought the topic was exciting and fun, and she made us all want to learn more.
My Alicante host mother, Rocío, was so generous and calm and smart and amazing. She always remained calm and caring towards Dante, never frustrated at even the most hair-greying moments of her 2-year-old´s actions (like jumping off a couch and smacking his forehead on the corner of a table). I never saw her stressed, or upset. She always seemed to be willing to learn, or be patient, or whatever was required of the situation. And when she gathered with friends, she lit up the room with her smile and carefree attitude. She was a professor at the university who provided for her child and boyfriend while he sought out employment. And even now that Carlos (or as Dante and she called him, Koki), has a job and lives in Torrevieja, I see by her emails that she still strives to keep the unity of their family a top priority, as difficult as it may be sometimes in that situation.
Loly was the program director at the radio station I had an internship at during my semester in Alicante. She ran the office, but it never felt that way. It was a fun and casual atmosphere that was great to work in. She was friendly and approachable, just as you´d expect from an on-air personality.
My host mom here in Valencia, Cristina, studied pharmaceutics in college and is the director of the microbiology water laboratory. Enough said.