Living in Europe has made me much more aware of things going on around the world. As someone who has never read the news regularly or been involved in politics, this had made me think a lot more about current issues and how countries address them differently.
Some of the most prevalent problems around the world right now have to do with immigration and refugees . Last week, I went to an amazing place called Mescladís. The café is a restaurant that does so much more than serve bocadillos and café con leche to tourists in the busy El Born neighborhood. Through the money earned at the restaurant, Mescladís operates a cooking school for immigrants and refugees who are in Spain illegally. The program is free of charge for participants and is funded almost entirely by the business. After the program, the students are placed in internships either at the café or other local restaurants. The goal is to secure jobs for the students and enable them to change their immigration status. Spain has a law where immigrants who have been in the country illegally for three years and who are employed can become legal residents.
We were fortunate enough to meet the owner and learn all about his socially empowered business model. He had so much passion for helping people and changing the way immigration issues are viewed by the world. He expressed frustration with the Spanish government’s failure to accept more refugees and immigrants despite widespread support from the public.
Both my experience at Mescladís and working in venture capital has opened my eyes to the possibilities of sustainable, socially motivated businesses. They can be an excellent way to address problems, empower the public and help people when governments fail to make changes. I hope that these types of companies continue to become more popular and that I can get involved with something similar in the future.
On another note:
This past weekend, I had friends visit who also happen to be current/former LSA International Interns! Anna stopped in Spain for the week before beginning her internship in Sweden and Tirzah, who did an internship in Argentina last summer, came along to visit Barcelona at the same time. It was great to see friends from back home and have an excuse to do all of the toursity things that I have been putting off. It also made me really miss home for the first time since I´ve been here. While I have had by far the best summer of my life, I am definitely ready to go home this weekend.