Do you remember that AT&T commercial from 2000 featuring a Basque sheepherder, mingling with his flock in the American West, talking on his cell phone with his family back in the Basque Country? Pedro Oiarzabal does. He uses this commercial, featuring the late Dionisio Choperena, to lead off his article on the Basque Diaspora, an article requested by Facebook for a new initiative they have called Facebook Stories.
The tag line of Facebook Stories is “People using Facebook in extraordinary ways.” And Pedro, who many of you may know from his research on and close connections with the Basque Diaspora not only in the US but around the world, describes how social media such as Facebook have helped to bridge the gulf between the Basque Diaspora and Euskal Herria. This is especially pertinent to the Basques since, as Pedro points out, there are more Basques living outside the Basque Country than within it. And, today, with practicing culture being almost a lifestyle choice, anything that helps Basques of the diaspora connect with the mother culture and give them an outlet to explore, express, and enhance their culture is critical to ensuring it flourishes.
Pedro draws from his connections and experiences working with the Basque Diaspora to highlight how social media has brought new people together to forge new collaborations, how a family dispersed across the entire globe is discovering its roots, and how second generation Basque Americans use social media to connect to the culture of their parents and grandparents. I must also say eskerrik asko to Pedro for calling out this very page!
Pedro’s article is one of the first to be featured on Facebook Stories. It kicked off the series in grand fashion and is followed by a wide variety of stories, including one on how a scientist used Facebook to identify 5000 species of fish within 24 hours. Some fascinating stuff!