(Our study group outside of Prince Fillipe’s home)
On Wednesday, upon settling into Madrid, we had a special visit set up to meet some of Spain’s top political leaders. First, we went to meet the Prince of Spain, His Royal Highness Prince Fillipe. His role is one of being above politics and representing Spain as a diplomat who handles Spain’s international relations. We went to his sprawling residence by bus, where we saw some of his spectacular home and then had an audience with the prince for about 90 minutes. During that time, we discussed the economy, his time studying at Georgetown, which American politicians he has met, youth unemployment, and intiatives to enhance entrepreneurship in Spain. He is an impressive and well spoken man who was very kind, respectful, and easy to talk to.
(Our hosts Pedro and Joaquin in the Press Room for the Spanish President)
From there, we went to the Spanish equivalent of the White House where we met with four young, up and coming leaders of Spain. These individuals were advisors to the Prime Minister on the economy, public relations, and media analysis. I was impressed to read their credentials: an MBA from MIT Sloan, an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and the final with top European degrees. These young people showed us a different side of Spain from what we read in the media recently about a fiscally irresponsible country with 26% unemployment. They explained the intiatives being taken to improve the economy, the issues the EU currently faces, and also how the Spanish government operates on a day to day basis. We learned that the number one issue plaguing the EU is a lack of ability to have a unitary monetary policy and how countries like Spain need to print money in order to ease the strains on their economy, but that other countries like Germany are staunchly opposed to doing so. It was extremely insightful.
(Cluster X was well represented on our trip!)
Finally, we finished the night off with an absolutely incredible dinner at a famous Madrid restaurant called Lucio courtesy of our hosts, Pedro and Joaquin. We must have had 10 courses, with each being better than the last, capping off the dinner by meeting the famous owner of the restaurant. It was a great day to say the least.