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Nancy Zubiri, editor of Euskal Kazeta: “I love Jaialdi, I think that I will always attend”

09/02/2015

Basque-Californian journalist and writer, Nancy Zubiri, at Jaialdi 2015 (photoEuskalKultura.com)
Basque-Californian journalist and writer, Nancy Zubiri, at Jaialdi 2015 (photoEuskalKultura.com)

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Nancy Zubiri is a Californian journalist, as well as a successful teacher and writer.  We spoke to her in Boise, Idaho in the middle of the Basque Block at the end of July, the Wednesday of Jaialdi, the celebration whose growth and establishment she also remarked on.  Nancy is a fan of this get-together in Boise. 

Joseba Etxarri. She graduated in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, but her professional life has leaned more towards journalism and teaching.  If many don’t recognize her name directly, they may recognize her book easier, Travel Guide to Basque America published by the University of Nevada Press in 1998, a best seller and one of the bestselling titles out of this University Press.  Born in San Francisco, Nancy Zubiri lives in Los Angeles. She traveled from there to join many others and be part of Jaialdi 2015.

You work as a journalist and a teacher, in particularly on Basque themes.  Your book Travel Guide to Basque America is present in many Basque homes in the US.  It is a 600-page book that became a bestseller.

-When I wrote the book I was heavily involved in the Basque community and working on the book allowed me to combine by love for my culture with my journalist side.  It is a work that compiles the history of the Basques in the US. It took three years of documenting, interviews and research, with another three of writing and editing the text.  Its first edition achieved great success and became a bestseller, and in 2006 I published a second corrected edition that was expanded and updated.  It still sells today and retains much of its historical validity. 

You are also a teacher.

-When I was writing the book I volunteered as a teacher in Venice.  I decided that I wanted to be a high school teacher and that’s what I did.  I got the required credentials and today I am still teaching at Venice High School, teaching English and journalism to kids between the ages of 14 and 18.

You also direct the online Basque publication Euskal Kazeta.

-Euskal Kazeta is a news website on everything that has to do, and may be of interest to Basques in this country, in English.  I created it six years ago and ti is growing little by little because I do it in my spare time.  My husband helps me when he can as he is also a journalist and there are others who occasionally collaborate, but not on a regular basis.  I would like to dedicate more time to it, but I do it now in my spare time.  I think Basques in the US want to know about their culture, they are proud of it and even though they don’t always actively participate, it doesn’t meant that they aren’t interested.  That is why I feel we need to figure out how to reach them, and I think that my website provides them a way to know and participated in what is going on from their homes, online.

The virtual sustains the physical.      

-One of the difficulties of the Basque community is that it is geographically dispersed.  It isn’t as easy for people to get together and see each other regularly.  Not so many years ago, Basques all stayed in one place and saw each other and got together regularly.  Today, meetings, and the number of events are fewer, there aren’t as many get-togethers as there used to be, but these are bid, with festivities like in Bakersfield, or at the Basque Cultural Center in San Francisco in February, or Jaialdi.

You traveled nearly 870 miles to be here this week.  

-Since its first edition in 1987 I have only missed one.  I love Jaialdi.  I think it is a great festival that allows friends to see each other that otherwise would not get together.  It is a beautiful way to celebrate our culture and to show it to the rest of the world at the same time.  They do amazing work.  At Jaialdi the Basque fan is opened and many Americans, non-Basques, are attracted by the Basque and find a both a reference and more knowledge, more or less, about us.

Has Jaialdi changed much?

-It has really grown.  Many local Basques and non-Basques alike participated, there are also people from the rest of the country and the Basque Country, as well as other countries in the Diaspora.  For example, this week people have come from Argentina and Australia, as well as Japan.  Boise has achieved combining and developing a community that doesn’t mind hard work, they are creative and are not afraid of challenges.  That is how initiatives like bringing Athletic Bilbao to Boise, or organizing Jaialdi are explained. 



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