The Basque people have always been adventurous. Either for necessity or fueled by the desire to discover the unknown, Basques have migrated and traveled to the Americas, to Africa, and to the northern seas. These events have shaped the history of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) and its people. Paradoxically, the Basques have also been very attached to their land and culture. This is one of the reasons that over 150 Basque clubs have been founded around the world, creating a rich network of euskaldunak (Basques).
In the 21st Century, Basques are still migrating for similar motives, but in very different ways. Also, living in a digital era, the means of communication have also changed drastically. As a response to this reality, the government of the Autonomous Community of Euskadi, through the General Secretariat for Foreign Affairs, has created Basque Global Network: a digital platform aimed at connecting Basques and Basque Country enthusiasts around the world.
Basque Country 2020
Under the name of Basque Country Estrategia (Basque Country Strategy), Lehendakari (President) Urkullu’s administration built a set of gadgets that responds to the need for internationalization in the Basque Country. The first phase of this long-term strategy will extend until 2020 and, as part of it, Basque Global Network “seeks to connect the global Basque community to preserve and foster its links and encourage social, cultural and economic relations,” in the words of the Government.
After a short beta release, to which around 200 people from different fields and countries were invited, the social network was officially launched on July 29. It currently counts over 500 members although, as expressed by the administration, “the strength resides in the activity of its users and the quality of the content, rather than in the amount of members.”
Eusko Jaurlaritza, the Basque Government, has yet to start the international promotion of the site and is aware of the difficulty of attracting people to a new social network. However, they are convinced of its potential and believe that its success will stem from the ability to offer a variety of practical tools on a single site. Besides giving information about different topics, ranging from business to culture and from institutional to cooperation, the platform also provides its members with useful apps to share documents and multimedia content, as well as to exchange data and ideas in a virtual meeting place. The site shares characteristics with popular networks like Facebook and Linkedin – such as groups, friends, and comments – but also facilitates collaboration through functions similar to Google Drive. All that, while building a digital and international Basque arena.
How to use Basque Global Network (BGN)
BasqueGlobalNetwork.eus has a multilingual interface accessible in Basque, English, Spanish, and French, although there are no restrictions on the use of other languages. Upon accessing, the user will be asked to fill in an identification form, and provide a government-issued ID, whichever the country of origin. After a few questions about his/her relation with the Basque Country, the user will join one of the basic five groups available: institutional, business, educational, cultural, and development aid. These themes correspond to the different areas of work currently being done by the Basque community in the international arena, and will help the members to connect with people that share similar affinities. Nevertheless, the users will be able to participate in as many discussions as desired, as well as to set up new groups and share events, calendars, videos, or documents. The site is user friendly, with easy access to notifications, messages, active groups, and a directory of governmental agencies and websites with useful information for the Basque diaspora.
Less than six-months-old, BGN is still a humble platform which, nonetheless, is growing as its active members feed the digital euskal arena and strengthen the network of Basques around the world.