Carmen, my host mom
By: Sarah Fitzgerald (Providence College)
After waiting all summer and three days of orientation to find out my Spanish housing assignment, I was thrilled to discover that I would be rooming with local Spanish artist! Carmen, my host mom, is a dynamic and energetic woman whose expressionist artistic style taps into her rich emotional wealth. As she began to introduce me to her friends, I soon found that they were equally compelling individuals; tai chi masters, independent film directors, acupuncturists, art aficionados, and many others all from the local Madrid community.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that one of my favorite experiences that Carmen and I have shared centered around her exciting circle of friends. On this particular Thursday evening, I found myself in front of an old stone building near the center of Madrid that had been reclaimed as a community space by the occupants. That night, the top floor of “El Arenal” was converted into a projection hall to screen a series of short films directed by one of Carmen’s friends.
Wide-eyed, barefoot, and seated on a yoga mat, I watched the hour-long feature with unwavering attention and put my Spanish language skills to the test by attempting to understand the dialogue while simultaneously discovering the subtext within each script. Though I must admit that I didn’t understand every scene, I was still able to appreciate the artistry of the director’s unique cinematographic style and pick up on general themes which extolled the beauty of human movement or criticized the nature of modern relationships.
However, even more important than the film itself, I especially enjoyed getting to know a segment of the Spanish population that would never have presented itself to me if not for Carmen. Seeing how local Madrileño artists work, live, socialize, create, and spend time in the community has been an exciting and stimulating experience for me, and I am truly grateful to Carmen for sharing her life with me for these four months.