I met Laila when I was a student in Madrid during the 2009-10 academic year. As you may recall, I volunteered at a center every week, helping students with their homework for two hours after school. Laila was one of those students, and has since become a friend of mine. She is a bright, book-loving teen with a desire to travel and write. I have translated this interview from Spanish to English.
Work/Study: Laila is a student in her fourth year of ESO. (Next year she will start her first year in bachillerato, which is two years long, and usually followed by college).
How long in Madrid: 15 years (lifetime)
Languages: Spanish, Arabic, English, and a bit of French
Rebe: What has been the best moment in your life thus far? Laila: I've had many good moments in my life, but nothing that stands out enough to make me say, "This is the best moment in my life".
What has been the worst moment/ most difficult time in your life thus far? When my grandpa died.
What's your favorite book, movie, and music? I'm reading The Hunger Games right now and I can't put them down, but my favorite book is Rabia by Jordi Sierra I Fabra. Music: I love Adele and Bruno Mars; their voices are so natural. Movie: The movies that have affected me most are the Harry Potter movies... but a favorite? Titanic has also affected me. I think my favorite is Remember Me.
What is your opinion of Americans?
From what I've seen in the movies, they want to be popular. They're very competitive and smart, because they have a good education. They're cool.
What is your opinion of the United States as a country?
Everything there is very expensive and extravagant. They should worry more about their health care system, and they have a good education system. (Laila mentioned earlier that next year upon starting bachillerato, she has to decide what she wants to specialize in. She likes the fact that in the United States you have more time to decide this specialization. )
What would you like people to know about Spain/Spaniards? That we don't just party. That right now we're in a moment of crisis, but I'm confident that we're going to come out of it. We're warm and friendly people.
What is the biggest problem in the world right now? The crisis. And also, that it's the people with money who control us, as if we were dolls.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In my final years of university, studying in England. I'll be on track to be a Spanish teacher in England or an English teacher here in Spain.
What is your favorite food and drink? Food: Lasagna. Drink: Orange juice and Coca Cola
What mode of transportation do you use most often? The metro.
What advice would you like to give to others? You always need to keep an open mind, and not think in terms of labels. For example, don't just think, "He's an American. He's not an American." Believe in something, and never lose hope. Cry to cry, and smile when you need to smile.