Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Interesting piece in La Vanguardia on talented young Spaniards who go to the US for graduate work at universities or hospitals there. (Note: La Vangua has recently made a very big deal about some Chinese study ranking the world's universities. The top ten were eight American schools--Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, and the like--and the two obvious ones from Britain. Spain didn't have a single university in the top 200.)

The two people interviewed by La Vangua said the competitive atmosphere in the US gets the best out of individuals, that you have to work hard and be motivated, that people with talent get scholarships there, that US universities compete for the best students, and that European students don't appreciate their university studies because they're virtually free of charge.

Says economist Jordí Galí, currently with the Pompeu Fabra: "Many citizens of Catalonia and Spain have been in contact with American society. These persons have an important role in compensating for the antiquated anti-Americanism that rejects anything that comes from the US. It would be interesting to do a study on the perception these people have of the United States and to compare it with that of the average Spanish citizen. Only ignorance can explain anti-Americanism. Contact with the US can contribute to understanding the positive things about that society, to learn and import them."

Says doctor and researcher Cristina Nadal, currently at Barcelona's Hospital Clínico: "When you come back you realize how small your world was. You see the people are more homogenous than you thought and that our constant navel-gazing is a bity absurd. The anti-Americanism in this country is ridiculous. You can argue about a lot of things about the US, the Iraq war, Bush, but the country works and is doing well, and we have a lot to learn from it."

Comment: These folks are unusually pro-American for these here parts. Obviously, they enjoyed high status and lived comfortable lives there, and their ideas might be different if they'd been, say, teaching third grade in an inner-city elementary school. Still, it's refreshing for La Vanguardia to actually run a prominent article that's positive about the US, because believe me, it's unusual.

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