Basque is in the air

I was just writing down how many Basque parents in Oarsoaldea had an intuitive Gramscian perspective on schools when  I got a call from  a dear friend. The call was welcome because though on a self imposed silent retreat to write, her voice takes me back to my college years. I shared with her what I was just writing about when she in reply unveiled the bizarre coincidence.

"You do know you are just fee away from the President of the Basque Country, right. He is there at the hotel."  she chimed.  Basque is in the air. The Juan JoséIbarretxe is here to address the Puerto Rican lawyers in their annual retreat and explore the "free associated state" model defined by Puerto Rico. 

 Here I am, sitting no more than 200 yards away in an apartment within the same resort writing, pondering the quirks of how Basque national identity tracends and evolves from generation to generation.  I chose to study the Basque Country because I found it to be oddly similar to Puerto Rico as a geographic region with its own national identity and a language that is different than the larger state that encompasses the territory. Language and identity are hotly debated in the US discourse on bilingual education. Will bilingual education introduce fissures into the US melting pot? Will bilingual citizens have conflicting national loyalties? A lot has been said on this topic and I am drawn to join the debate.

Just this past week, as part of my day to day business development,  I visited Puerto Rico’s first cooperative of farmers – recent clients of ours – and learned about their plans to grow their production and export coffee. A few weeks back the Executive President of the Cooperative and I were clear that the exports would most likely be aimed to the US market. To my surprise last week I learned he was considering the Spanish market, beginning with the Basque region. This change in plans came from ongoing exchanges with the leaders of the Mondragon Cooperative movement.  Jim took plenty of great pictures of the countryside and the facilities for the Cooperative to use in their meetings this week with the visitors from Mondragon. The talk of the Basque Country during our visit to the coffee plantations got me thinking of going back there someday. It was enough motivation to get me to write.

I now can imagine it is all part of the same trip. The President of the Basque Country travelled in the company of leaders of Mondragon.  They are most likely all here in Rio Mar having their meetings. The President is set to address Puerto Rico’s lawyers at their annual convention and those interested in cooperatives are likely to meet here too.

Basque is in the air. If ever there would be muses or metaphysical spirit at work the remarkable coincidences would prescribe it for today of all days.

"Once concepts reach a sweet point of communicability through schooling they are borne to a new life where they evolve in the popular imagination to unpredictable destinations."…. ok not all sentences are making it to the final chapter but I now resume the task at hand.