This note comes to us thanks to The Buffalo Bulletin:
Basque-ing in the culture
Summer camp draws teachers and students from afar
By Grant Smith
Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 10:02 AM CDT
Since its inception in 1973, the Udaleku summer camp has offered youths the opportunity to expand their interest in Basque history and culture in the hope of preserving and continuing Basque tradition from one generation to the next.
“Many of our participants have an interest in Basque language or music and they feel weird because none of their friends can relate. We give them the opportunity to see that they aren’t so odd in their interests,” said Kate Camino, the internal director for the camp.
Camino, a Buffalo native who works in the Basque Studies Department at the University of Nevada Reno, used her professional contacts to assemble a group of energetic instructors willing to travel to Buffalo and share their skills.
Jexux Larrea agreed, despite not knowing English. Jexux, who is teaching Basque dance at the camp in Clear Creek Middle School, came from the city of Donostia in Spain where he works as a dance master in a culture group that teaches the methodology and history of Basque dance.
Larrea remembers his interest in dance being sparked at an early age. “I started dancing at 14 and never stopped,” said Larrea, speaking through a translator. He further noted that the language barrier has not been an impediment in conveying his passion. “If you want to teach the history or the background of the dance you must know the language, but to teach the dance itself you can just teach by example,” said Larrea.
Another native of the Basque country teaching at the camp is Eneko Espiro, who came to Buffalo from the town of Vitoria Gasteiz. Espiro agreed to instruct students on the playing of the txistu — a Basque fipple flute containing only three holes. “It has been a great challenge to take kids who don’t even know how to read music and then teach them how to do that and learn a new instrument, but almost all of them will be doing really well at the end of two weeks.” said Espiro.
In addition to music and dance, participants take courses in Basque culture and language. Incorporated into the classroom sessions are outings geared towards exploring first hand different facets of Basque culture. Such activities include a camp-out in sheep wagons, caroling through Buffalo during the solstice celebration of San Juan, and a trip to the Gatchell Museum to learn about early Basque sheep ranchers in Johnson county.
Forty-three students between the ages of 10 and 15, including visitors from six different states, are participating in the camp this year. “All the out-of-state campers are housed by volunteers in the Buffalo community and we owe them a big thanks for their support and assistance,” said Camino.
The students will showcase their new talents during an end-of-camp show at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the high school auditorium.
“We eat, live and breathe Basque culture,” said Camino, “What we really want to do is to inspire these kids to the point where they will take our positions in the preservation effort.”
For more information concerning next year’s Udaleku camp or other Basque activities go to www.nabasque.org or contact Teresa Fieldgrove at 758-4540.
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