After leaving León, we continued our journey and arrived on a Sunday afternoon to A Coruña, our fourth destination. It took us more than 3 hours to reach Galícia, but it was worth the trip: it welcomed us with its incredibly green nature, it sky-blue ocean and sunny weather. Our tight schedule didn’t allow for more than a brief walk along the coast on our way to our next activity, but we certainly enjoyed it and used it as an effective energiser after the tiring bus trip.
Once arrived to the University of A Coruña, we engaged in a debate with local politicians representing a variety of parties of different sizes and ideologies. I have to say that although such debates do not benefit primarily us foreigners, they represent a very effective tool of involving Spaniards into policy-making and connecting them with local politicians. The debate was quite heated and reached its climax when the EP candidates were asked about Spain’s place in Europe or the future of the EU itself. The sceptical attitude of the Spanish participants and the comments they made, revealed once more the negative effects of the crisis and the mismanagement of the Spanish government. However, besides some rightfully harsh remarks, the comments also revealed that their scepticism is also the result of an obvious lack of information as to which are the benefits of the EU and why it is – not only convenient but- extremely important for Spanish citizens to be informed and involved in the EU decision-making process. After the debate ended – truth be told, with very few specific conclusions – we could finally call it a day and headed towards the city centre to dine.
The following week started well for us, with chocolate and “churros” gave us energy for the day to come. We were firstly supposed to be heading towards a retirement house but we were quite disappointed to find out at the last minute that the management decided to cancel our action in favour of a flamenco show, which they believed would be more “interesting” for the people living there. After this unpleasant news, we focused on our next action, at the University of A Coruña. Once there, we were divided into small groups in the Faculties of Philology and Law where we also had the opportunity to inform Erasmus students on the possibility of voting by email. Generally, the approach had to be short and effective, due to the short time available between classes. The general impression we were left with, was that there is an overall awareness on the elections and more openness towards the idea of voting, compared with the previous day, at least. Our stay in A Coruña was a good way of ending (and starting) a week full of activities which helped us learn and grow and which brought us both hope and disillusionment. Hope because we found many receptive citizens who knew little about the elections but promised to look deeper into the matter and vote. And disillusionment because for every positive answer, we received many more negative ones, coming from people who had lost all hopes for a better future and were very resistant to our encouragement to inform themselves on the elections. To keep our spirits up, we learned to accept rejections and weight our successes over our failures. In the end, changing mindsets was never for the weak 🙂
Rita David, AEGEE Budapest – participant
David Torrente, AEGEE Burgos – participant