Euskara Munduan at the VIII World Congress of Basque Communities
Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
The World Congress of Basque Communities Abroad convenes every four years to strengthen bonds with Basque Communities around the world, including Basque centres and federations. It aims to share good practices and establish a joint line of work for the next four years. This year the event was held in San Sebastian from 18 to 21 December under the title ‘ERALDAROA’.
On this occasion, the congress gathered nearly a hundred people in San Sebastian, most of whom were part of delegations from Basque communities in 18 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. Also present were several individuals directly connected to the Basque diaspora and representatives from Basque institutions.
The Basque Government officially recognises 197 Basque Centres spread across 25 countries, all of which are invited to participate in this international congress. The Etxepare Basque Institute actively promotes the awareness and use of the Basque language in Basque centres around the world through the Euskara Munduan programme. At present, more than 70 Basque centres worldwide teach Basque in collaboration with the Etxepare Basque Institute. On 20 December Etxepare director Irene Larraza spoke about the ‘Euskara Munduan’ programme together with Euskara Munduan coordinator Kinku Zinkunegi, and Monika Madinabeitia, director for the Promotion and Dissemination of the Basque Language.
Larraza began the talk by presenting the Etxepare Basque Institute to the audience and describing the Institute’s activities and goals for spreading the Basque language and culture around the world: " We are actively searching for travel companions to join us in the mission of spreading Basque culture and creation across the globe."
Kinku Zinkunegi described the Euskara Munduan programme along with members of Basque communities from various countries involved in the programme and who, according to Zinkunegi, "are good examples to follow". At the session, they shared their experience in teaching Basque and disseminating Basque culture, as well as the resources, methodologies and challenges they use to teach the language.
The president of FEVA (Federation of Argentinean Basque Entities), two members of NABO (North American Basque Organizations), a member of the Euskal Etxea of Paris, a member of the Euskal Etxea of Barcelona, and the president of the Euskal Etxea in Berlin then took the floor.
To conclude, Zinkunegi and Madinabeitia took stock of the outcomes achieved by the Etxepare Basque Institute´s Euskara Munduan programme and outlined the direction of the next set of goals. Among other things, they announced plans to publish more teaching material for the Euskara Munduan programme in 2024.
Zinkunegi highlighted the work of Basque teachers abroad: "Most are not teachers by profession. They are doctors, engineers and so on. Our job is to make it easier for them to continue teaching Basque." Zinkunegi explained that, among the new teaching materials the Euskara Munduan programme plans to publish, one of the aims is to create educational content for learning Basque in German and Portuguese. This aligns with the existing translations of materials into Spanish, English, and French.
"The diaspora teaches us many lessons," said Madinabeitia, director for the Promotion and Dissemination of Basque. She explained this with an anecdote about the linguistic landscape from her last visit to the Euzkoetxea Necochea Basque centre in Argentina: "All the signs, symbols and posters were in Basque, and they often do it better than in the Basque Country."
The talk concluded with the announcement that in 2024, exams will be available in Buenos Aires to certify the level of Basque fluency. Currently, these exams can only be taken outside the Basque Country in Madrid and Barcelona. Zinkunegi invited participants to inquire with any Basque center having a significant number of students with a sufficient level about the possibility of organizing examinations to obtain Basque level certificates in their city. The Euskara Munduan Programme would channel this through HABE (Institute for Adult Literacy and Re-learning of Euskera).