Alumni Spotlight: JORGE VILLARREAL

According to Vanity Fair, “the Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.” Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, we have put together a set of 32 questions designed to reveal the true nature of 4CITIES alumni. Or to at least give us some insight into what they are up to and what makes them, as students of “the urban”, tick.

1. What is your name?
Jorge Villarreal.

2. Which 4CITIES cohort were you a part of?
Cohort 13 (2021-2023). 

3. Where and when were you born?
Monterrey, Mexico. 1995.

4. Where did you grow up?
Monterrey and Torreón, Mexico.

5. What did you study before 4CITIES?

6. Why did you join 4CITIES?
Interest in urban issues, especially mobility related.

7. What is your fondest memory from 4CITIES?
Community dinners at KU every Thursday.

8. What was the most important thing you learned from 4CITIES?
To be critical about everything, even things that seem to be non-criticizeable.

9. What (if anything) have you studied since 4CITIES?
Master’s in Urban Planning.

10. Where do you live now?

11. Where else would you like to live?
Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Mexico City.

12. Which city have you never visited but would most like to?
Buenos Aires.

13. Where is your favorite non-urban place to be?
The mountains (hiking or road cycling).

14. What kind of work are you currently doing?
Teaching urbanism to law students.

15. What other work have you done since graduating?
Finding accommodation for Mexican students coming to Madrid for study/work.

16. What job would you most like to attempt?
Sustainable urban mobility consultant.

17. What urban-related job does not exist but should?
Street food consultant.

18. What about cities do you enjoy the most?
Making dog-friends at cafés.

19. What about cities do you enjoy the least?
Witnessing hostility against or towards “the other” (from locals, the police, etc.).

20. What about cities do you find most interesting?
How lonely one can be amongst rivers of people.

21. What about cities do you think is over-emphasized or over-hyped?
The reputation some cities get (say, Paris) that makes people romanticize the idea of that city, ignoring the real world daily life problems that coexist with the romantic idea that has been created.

22. What about cities do you think is under-appreciated?
The power of street food, like in Latin America.

23. Why do you think urban studies is important?
The world needs critical thinkers, and cities need a counterbalance to the technocratic hegemonic governance that we’ve experienced for the past decades.

24. What is one myth about cities that you would like to bust?
I think the idea of “how good multiculturalism is” only tries to hide racism, xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

25. If you could time travel, what city and year would you visit?
Tenochtitlán (capital of the Aztec Empire, today’s Mexico City).

26. What is your favorite imaginary city (from books, movies, etc.)?
It’s not a specific city (I think), but the vibe of the movie “The Invention of Lying”, where at the beginning no one knows how to lie so everyone is honest. I think that cities are more defined by their people than anything else, so I love the idea of an honest society with real relationships and interactions.

27. What would you like real cities to learn or take from this imaginary city?
To stop imposing models of life that have an impact on how people think they should live their lives. I would love for cities to foster environments where people can be true to themselves and others.

28. What books, authors, or films would you recommend to someone who wants to better understand “the urban”?
Urbanismo feminista by col-lectiu punt 6.

29. What changes would make cities more livable?
Real sustainable mobility for all, 5 times more trees, controlled housing market, and more street food.

30. What are the most important changes cities must make in response to the sustainability crisis?
Promoting lifestyles that are less resource consuming. Vegan diets, active mobility, effective and mandatory recycling, and many many other things.

31. If you could change one thing about your city, what would it be?
I would build bike lanes in every street.

32. What question have I not asked that you would like to ask other 4CITIES alumni?
Most listened to artist on Spotify this year?


You can find Jorge on LinkedIn.