Photo by Lee Woolcock
I first came to Catalunya in 2000. I had some spare time before beginning a Masters in International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, and I thought it would be interesting to experience another culture for a while. I fell in love with the place, and I stayed.
Catalunya’s history fascinates me. Part of the reason are the obvious attractions—the culture, the architecture, the literature, etc. But it is also partly because I was intrigued by a place with a political and historical context not easily comparable to my own.
My mother is American and my father is from a mining family in Yorkshire, England. They met at the London School of Economics when they were 23/24, and he emigrated to the US soon after. Now he’s more American than most Americans.
I was nominated for my current role after the Generalitat’s Foreign Affairs Department asked around for recommendations. Apparently my name kept coming up as a person who could act as a bridge between North America and Catalunya, so they contacted me to see if I’d be interested. It was a fairly normal interview process.
I was never an activist at university. I was shy and afraid of failure. I broke out of that by my mid-20s, however, and I have been actively involved in politics and civil society organisations ever since. I am particularly proud to be the first non-Catalan member of the Board of Directors of the Ateneu Barcelonès.
I was one of the founding members of Democrats Abroad Spain in 2003. It’s grown tremendously, especially since Rebecca Lewis—the current president of the group in Barcelona—took over. When we started, there were only quatre gats, but on the evening of the last elections we filled Luz de Gas, and we could have filled the place four times over.
I met the [Catalan] woman who was to become my wife the week after I arrived, which definitely helped my integration here. I’m looking forward to being in New York for a time, but thinking long-term, Catalunya is where I want to be. I have this phrase to describe myself: Nascut a Amèrica però Català d’adopció—Born an American, but Catalan by adoption.