My name is Xabi Ansorena, and I have been offered the great opportunity by Fomento San Sebastián to carry out an internship in ENIL between February and August 2014, as part of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme.
I was born in San Sebastian, the north coast of Spain, 28 years ago. I studied a Degree in Psychology from 2004 to 2009. In the last year of University, I did an internship in a hospital where they provided rehabilitation for people with brain damage. This was one of the most significant events of my life, since I was fascinated about the effects of brain damage on people’s behavior. From this moment, I knew I wanted to develop my career in the field of brain sciences.
After this experience, I decided to do a Master’s Degree in experimental Neuropsychology. Neuropsychology is the part of psychology that studies the relationship between the brain and the psychological functions. When there is a neurological disorder, language, memory, attention, perception, movement and other intellectual functions are altered. The neuropsychologist helps patients face this situation and also monitors and coordinates the rehabilitation or adaptation process.
After the Master´s Degree I was offered to be part of a gerontological research team from a Spanish hospital. In this research team, I participated in many European Information and Communications Technology projects for people with disabilities, collaborating with several prestigious universities and professors from Europe, where I had the opportunity to improve project management and coordination skills. From this experience, I built a strong interest towards research. I have always desired to obtain a PhD in a neurscientific field.
Since then, I have had the chance to work in residential and day care centre settings for people suffering from brain related disorders, such as brain damage, dementias and psychiatric disorders. While I was working in these positions, in order to strengthen my competence in these tasks, I decided to engage in a Master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology.
I have previous experience working for people with disabilities and I have always adopted the person centered approach to care, always respecting peoples’ desires and their choices. In my opinion, the medical model of disability, at least in Spain, was overcome a long time ago.
Nonetheless, although there are many similarities, I had barely heard about the Independent Living movement, so when I had this unique opportunity, I had no doubt that this would be a very interesting opportunity.
In ENIL, I am contributing to various Work Streams. I am doing research for a seminar on Hate Crime that will take place in October in Croatia, which is organized in coordination with the OSCE/ODIHR. Similarly, I am studying the costs of Personal Assistance for a project regarding its viability. In addition, I have been given the opportunity to develop a research project on the decision making capacity of people with disabilities. From this project, I intend to write an article on a scientific journal and to develop a PhD project. Moreover, I am part of the ENIL Election Campaign Team, in which a Manifesto and a Questionnaire have been written with several demands for the Members of the European Parliament. Finally, I am in charge of the dissemination of news, surveys and all the activities going on in ENIL through our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For the moment, the projects are bevery successful, and what is more important; I am learning a lot about the Independent Living movement; I am meeting a lot of experts, institutions, and people; and most significantly, I am having a wonderful experience.
I would like to thank Fomento San Sebastián and ENIL for this opportunity, as it will be a positive influence for my future. It is a fact that my view towards disability issues has broadened with a deeper understanding of the matter, incorporating the political, economical, medical, housing, community and personal perspectives.
I sincerely have the best wishes for the Independent Living movement and all the people with disabilities.