Homage to Catalonia

By Roger Watson | 03/01/2018

If you’re in Barcelona, you’re in Catalonia.

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The author chairs an appointment panel at the University of Girona, teaches at the University of Navarra, and appoints three editors in meetings at Oxford.

Roger WatsonHULL, United Kingdom—Following decades of work in Spain and transits through the Barcelona airport, I finally set foot on terra firma in Catalonia. I am sure that, until recently, many people who aren’t residents of Spain were unaware that Barcelona is in Catalonia. Although it is a part of Spain, the region has a fierce sense of identity and its own language. Of course, many are now aware of Catalonia’s special status following the referendum for independence and events that followed, which continue.

I have no view on the issue of Catalan independence, but I am frequently reminded of George Orwell’s first-hand record of the Spanish Civil War as recorded in his book of essays titled Homage to Catalonia. The tragic brutality of civil war and Orwell’s own near-death experience made a great impression on me as a schoolboy, and I went on to read all his books.

I was in Catalonia to chair an appointment panel at the eponymous University of Girona, situated on the Mediterranean. The appointment was under the auspices of the Serra Húnter Programme, which seeks involvement in promoting prestigious academics—from assistant to associate professor, for example. Successful candidates are then partly funded for a few years by the program. The universities making the appointments thus benefit financially while reaping increased research activity from Serra Húnter scholars.

One of my panel members was Dame Nicky Cullum, DBE, PhD, FAAN, dean of the Division of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work at the University of Manchester in the UK. I first met Cullum at the University of Edinburgh in 1989. She was sitting outside the office of the dean of social sciences, and we were both waiting to be interviewed for a lectureship. On that day—and she will not mind me recalling this—I was the successful candidate, but her career has been the more stellar, culminating in her elevation to Dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. My note of congratulation included the hope that we were “good” following the events that took place way back in 1989. We were, and we are!

On to Pamplona
After chairing the panel, I traveled by high-speed trains back to Barcelona and on to Pamplona. Next to China, Spain has the most high-speed rail track in the world, and the services are punctual, fast—as the name suggests—and very comfortable. I spent a week in Pamplona at the University of Navarra as a visiting professor, advising colleagues on publications and lecturing to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as usual. On my first visit to the university in 1991, I needed a translator with me always. Now, all my colleagues are fluent in English, and I can teach without a translator. My Spanish remains as good as it was in 1991—i.e., not very.

And back to the UK
Back in the United Kingdom, I have just returned from a meeting at Oxford of the JAN management team. (We have dropped use of the name Journal of Advanced Nursing and are now officially going with JAN.) This is one of the best weeks in my annual cycle of activities. We had two full days of meetings, and, as usual, I spent four nights there to ensure that I caught up socially with all of the editors. Last year, we lost two excellent colleagues—Brenda Roe, PhD, RN, who demitted, and Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN, who left to take up the reins at Nursing Research. I was very pleased to make not two but three new editor appointments: Doris Yu, PhD, RN; Cindi Logston, PhD, RN, FAAN; and YingJuan Cao, PhD, RN. These appointments maintain our U.S. profile and increased our Chinese profile.

March will be spent in Europe—UK and Italy—before my Far East work in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan starts in April. I’ll be reporting from Italy next. RNL

Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of JAN and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.”

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