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Mari Jose Olaziregi, Etxepare, “Internationalization and presence in university networks is the key to the future of the Basque language”


Students at this year's "Excellence in Basque Studies" (photo Etxepare)
Students at this year's "Excellence in Basque Studies" (photo Etxepare)


The third “Excellence in Basque Studies,” directed to train lecturers to teach Basque language and culture classes in foreign universities was very well received, with 160 participating. Mari Jose Olaziregi, Director of the promotion of Euskera at the Etxepare Basque Institute, was very satisfied with the course that “forces a rethinking of Basque culture within international academic standards.” Olaziregi assures that participation in university networks for study and research is key for the future of the Basque language, and that the lecturer program is making progress in this regard, despite the fact that three programs are being closed due to the current economic situation including programs in Stanford, Bahia Blanca and Iberoamericana in Mexico with only one new program opening in Cork, Ireland.

Bego Miñaur/Donostia-San Sebastian.  The third edition of “Excellence in Basque Studies” took place on July 4-5 in Donostia as part of the summer courses of the University of the Basque Country, organized in collaboration with the Etxepare Basque Institute.  Mari Jose Olaziregi, Director of the promotion of Euskera from Etxepare was very satisfied with the event.

“The number of enrollments was the same, with 70 attending face-to-face and another 80 attending the course online in April and February with last year’s materials,” Olaziregi explained to

Rethink Basque Culture

Olaziregi explained that this course, and by extension the lecturer program, obliges “to rethink the Basque culture within international academic parameters: how to organized a course with standards, what technology to use…every year the program totally renews itself and is converted into a good way to update various fields in Basque Studies.”

Olaziregi, course director, emphasizes the participation of experts such as: José del Valle, Director of the department of Prehispanic and Luso-Brazilian Languages and Literatures at City University of New York (CUNY) or Joan Ramón Resina (Stanford University), who did a reading of "Hamaika Pauso,” by Saizarbitoria --"marvelous", describes Olaziregi—and he also spoke about the benefits of Basque being included in Iberian studies.

Participants included professors who would like to update their knowledge to lecturers who are actually teaching in one of the programs supported by Etxepare to people who are hoping to work as teachers abroad.


“Internationalization is key at this time,” says Olaziregi, as much in the world of work as that of culture.  In this sense, she underlines the importance of Euskera being present in international academic networks through the lecturers at various universities.  “It is vital that Basque stays in contact with other language programs and departments.  Our future translators may be in these universities; future research may come from these students and they can create new networks among them,” she emphasized.

The Etxepare Basque Institute is very clear regarding the need to keep moving in this direction with the lecturer programs, Olaziregi assures.  “Nevertheless, we are very conscious of the current economic situation and the need to optimize resources.  We are seriously considering opening new programs and our goals is to optimize the existing ones,” she explains.

Lecturer in Ireland

In this sense, Olaziregi told that this year three programs would be close: Stanford University, the University of Bahia Blanca in Argentina, and the Iberoamericana University in Mexico due mainly to the number of enrollments there, considered insufficient to keeping them open.  “Nevertheless, if things improve we will always consider re-opening them in the future.”

In 2013-14, a new program will open at the University of Cork in Ireland.  “It is a new university that is putting together a very powerful language department,” Olaziregi explains.  In addition, the Etxepare Basque Institute is also working on creating two new Chairs that are expected to materialize in the new future. 

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