by Cristina Tapia.
Mintzanet is a new and innovative project, created just months ago in San Sebastian by the Maramara group and already extended worldwide. Its main objective: to promote the Basque language through the Internet.
This initiative brings together people who want to learn or improve their Basque with people who already speak it well. Conversations between them are organized over the Internet, so that all those who want to practice Basque have the opportunity, overcoming the challenges of physical borders and combining schedules. This way, any person who doesn’t have the chance to speak Basque in their environment is offered the possibility of doing so without even leaving home and as often as they’d like, all through the web page www.mintzanet.net. The initiative is free and only requires two elements: the Bidelaria or the traveler who undertakes this adventure and a Bidelaguna, the travel companion ready to lend a hand.
The first of them is the person who wants to learn the Basque language but for one reason or another hasn’t had the chance to practice it; the second is a person who steps up and offers to speak Basque with the learner.
Mintzanet is a project that began in December of 2012 with the support of the City of San Sebastian, the Etxepare Institute of the Basque Government, the University of the Basque Country and the Associations Topagune and Bagera. During the beginning months of the project many virtual meetings have been organized between participants and more and more people are learning about this project with its strong social vocation. Already about 200 people make up Mintzanet and its promotors hope the project will continue growing.
Currently there are people participating in Mintzanet from Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Caledonia, Russia, Spain… Naturally, there are also people from the Basque Country participating.
The Mintzanet project was intended from the outset to offer a free service to Basque speakers who are dispersed throughout the world, but also to people right from the Basque Country. Clearly, a minimum level in Basque is required to ensure communication between the partners.
As well as offering the possibility of speaking in Basque, Mintzanet has other positive features: to extend the borders of the Basque language for people with difficulties in practicing it because of physical and timing issues and to stop linguistic loneliness that many Basque speakers experience. Ultimately, it is helping to expand the number of people that know Basque.
During the first months of the experience we’ve seen special bonds growing amoungst the program particiapants. Partners have been gladly giving of their time to their counterparts and the level of satisfaction is high.
In regards to how the program works, candidates complete a questionnaire at the beginning for the program Coordinator to see the possibilities, frequency and practices of the Basque language “student”. Once this step is complete, the most suitable partner is selected, matching the needed characteristics.
Participation in the program is very easy. You can go to www.mintzanet.net. and sign up. In addition, right now more Basque speakers are needed who are willing to be travel partners and helpers to friends from all over the world looking to speak Basque, to learn it and improve it.
|Cristina Tapia is Coordinator of Mintzanet|