Before the trip, I diligently followed European news, but now it means something different to me. My interest is no longer just intellectual but personal. For example, the recent news of Catalonia of Spain's vote for autonomy and the opening of talks with the ETA now are very important to me because It effects people like Paul Ortega, our GMF host in Bilbao, and Aitor Esteban Bravo, one the Basque representatives in the Spanish Parliament. The sharpness of the debate about opening talks with the ETA is clear because I can still feel the animosity of the Popular Party toward's ETA and Batasura as passionate expressed by Angel Rodriguez during the panel discussion with representatives of the Basque Political Parties.
What strikes me is how complex my feelings are about this events because of the different perspectives to which I was exposed, especially when compared to the experiences of the group that went to Madrid.
So effect number 1 of my GMF experience is that Europe is no longer an abstraction for me, but a place in which I am somewhat personally entangled in the events that shape the lives of the people I met. For that I am grateful because the "path to true enlightenment" is the dissolution of the boundaries we place between self and others (Americans and Europeans). I hope that for all participants in the GMF it is not just about TransAtlantic dialogue but hopefully the dissolution of TransAtlantic boundaries.