GAZTEALDI: Basque Young Adult Assembly   

Originally published May 17, 2006 by John M. Ysursa. Neither NABO or the Basque Government is responsible for the following content. For more information, or to get on our email list, send your name & email address to:

What will it mean to be Basque in the 21st century?  The generation of Basque young adults ages 16-25 will have a determining voice in the response.  Accordingly, NABO is initiating a new program just for them called Gaztealdi--"The Time of Youth."

The future of our Basque-American community will be decided within the next 15 to 20 years.  The immigrant generation of Basques established the foundation of our clubs, but now the torch is being passed to the generation of Basques born in America, and it will be this younger generation that will decide what it means to be Basque in America in the 21st century.  So now is the time to begin work on this transition as hopefully both generations can work together in a mutually beneficial way. 

Where is the next generation of young adult Basque community leaders?  There was a Kristie Onaindia in Bakersfield, a Jean Flesher in Salt Lake, a Patty Miller in Boise, a Jeanette Almirantearena Duhart in Chino, to name a few.  Folks like this stepped up in years past, but where are the teenagers and twenty-somethings of today (and the exceptions in a few communities prove the general rule that we're missing this crucial generation of young adults).  This is the age when most of us where looking to find something of importance in our lives, to belong to something larger than ourselves. Thus this is the window of opportunity!

Udaleku’s recent reformulation for kids ages 10-15 will mean that it will most likely function much smoother, but of course now we took away a possible means of connecting with the 15+ age youth.  Valerie Etcharren had her eye on this and last year offered a workshop.  Xabier Burrueta & others are at work putting together a great series of Ikaspilota programs in San Francisco and Boise.  The Basque Government sponsors an annual two-week Gaztemundu program for youth in the Basque country, but its impact here has remained limited.  One reason is that few people apply (whether because of faulty communications or general lack of interest) and those who have attended largely disappear.  NABO will continue to promote I believe we should stay with promoting this program, but we also need to construct a local, domestic program to better connect with young adults. 

So that is why NABO is poised to initiate GAZTEALDI (Basque for "time of youth").  But it doesn't really matter what NABO hopes to do unless young people decide to participate. This summer’s Udaleku in Elko will also be serving as the initial attempt to form a team that will assist in the formulation of what Gaztealdi could and should be. If this is going to be for young adults, then they must have a part in its creation from the outset; they have to feel a sense of ownership if this is going to succeed.  Anita Anacabe Franzoia, NABO's "Aurrera Goaz" chairperson commented that this summer will serve to get this "off the ground and let those older Udaleku kids know they aren't forgotten.  There's too big of a gap from when they graduate from Udaleku to becoming a contributing member of the club they belong to.  It needs to be fun to keep them involved and not burned out and discouraged by some of the older members."

Right now the tentative proposal is that it would be a three to four day assembly of Basque young adults ages 16 to 25.  It is not specifically a teachers workshop (if some go on to do that--marevelous) but moreso several days of a more advanced Udaleku format where participants learn about various aspects of Basque culture: e.g., Euskara, music, song, dance, history & culture, cuisine, etc.

Specifics of what will be presented, what people will coordinate this, when & where it would be, etc. is step two; of course NABO clubs/organizations will have an opportunity to contribute to this over the next several meetings.  Thus here in step one we are just sounding out Basque young adults to see who might be interested in being a part of building something from the bottom up; i.e., who wants to be a part of this organizational team?  Your ancestors built these clubs, and developed programs like Udaleku before you were born.  Now it's your turn to decide what being Basque will be. 

To better connect and attract young adults, it would help to know something a bit more in depth about the story of the Basques.  This is what we're looking for from those interested in participating in this initial two-week organizational meeting (alongside the two weeks of Udaleku in Elko):

The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky.  This is available at most bookstores; if not online at

This provides an overview of Basque history.

An Enduring Legacy by John & Mark Bieter.  This is available at bookstores; if not online at or other outlets.

This is specific to the Basque-American experience.

Thanks to the following who contributed their ideas at the initial meeting to organize Gaztealdi:


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