The Global Basque Community boosts the diaspora

The first digital meeting of HanHemen and the Global Basque Community was held yesterday, with the aim of strengthening and discussing it. 

Yesterday, 5th of July, the first digital meeting of the Global and Digital Basque Citizenship, organised by HanHemen, took place from Aretxabaleta (here) to the entire world (here). There was a lot of interaction and we received very relevant contributions. The aim of the event was to share the results of the active listening exercise directed at the people who make up the Basque diaspora, as well as to learn about the situation and needs of the Global Basque Community, and to develop the HanHemen initiative and technology platform in collaboration. This diaspora model allows us to look to the future and combine the experience of the “Euskal Etxeak” (Basque Homes) with the new model of global and digital citizenship.

This way, HanHemen stood out as a project created from the diaspora for the diaspora, with the support of the General Secretary for Foreign Action of the Basque Government.

Visions and experiences of the diaspora

The event began at 6pm (Basque Country time), and people from all over the globe joined in to share multiple experiences and diasporic experiences. Participants connected from the USA, Argentina, the UK, Germany, Uruguay, Singapore, among many other countries. Journalist Garazi Ayesta and the Scientific Director of HanHemen, academic at Cardiff University and Fulbright laureate, Igor Calzada, live streamed the session from Aretxabaleta, asking and talking about the origin of HanHemen, global trends and the transformation of the Basque diaspora. This shared cross-conversation led to the consolidation of a deliberative dynamic with the HanHemen participants, developed in an open, dynamic and interactive way. The desire to go beyond the project, based on learning from previous mistakes and experiences, was positively valued.

Results of active listening

In this framework, firstly, the video presentation of the conclusions of the active listening and the questionnaire developed under the proposal from the ESRC Civil Society research programme at Cardiff University was shared, and the Scientific Director highlighted several key points about the Basque diaspora. The following decalogue summarises the results of the radiography based on the “handarrak”, the Basque outsiders:

  1. While 70% feel part of the Basque diaspora, 30% feel ‘dislocated’ or not involved. HanHemen’s inclusivity aims to respond to this concern.
  2. 80% are strongly in favour of keeping the links with the Basque geographies.
  3. When asked about the support from the Basque Government, 70% agreed that it could be improved. HanHemen emerges to reinforce this.
  4. People in the diaspora interact abroad. Today, 50% have more than five global and digital citizens around their place of residence. This makes it easier for us to weave networks in favour of the community.
  5. In general, the perception that the “Euskal Etxeak” (Basque Homes) are close by is shared: 65% claim to be able to access one of those. This perception of the proximity of the “Euskal Etxeak” shows a clear potential partner for the HanHemen initiative, as long as it is properly managed.
  6. As regards the ways of interacting: there is still room for online, offline and hybrid formats. We cannot deny that in-person format is the first choice for citizens, more than any other format. Post-pandemic teaches us that the entire offline model is ineffective, for many reasons.
  7. “Handarrak”,the Basque outsiders, use social networks, considering that it is a showcase as a diaspora participant and a direct way to relate to it.
  8. However, 80% recognise their concern about privacy. In this way, HanHemen will guarantee the digital rights of the participants.
  9. As a result of digital nomads (i.e. people who have moved abroad in the last 2 years) the “Handarrak” do not recognise themselves as digital nomads. However, 42% claim a tendency towards a high mobility. Therefore, we can conclude that digital nomads in the diaspora will be a growing sample, being this a thing to be taken into account in the design of HanHemen.
  10. Finally, 65% are open to return. Do we have bridges to ensure a sustainable return?

HanHemen platform, a tool to be developed alongside the diaspora

The social innovation platform HanHemen is a response to all this, and with the aim of developing the scientific line of HanHemen, Alejandro Novoa, from the technological platform, gave a brief presentation. As Novoa explained, this will be a tool developed in a cooperative way, as a result of the active listening process, and ready to continuously adapt to the needs of the community. Its key features will be its (i) usability and intuitiveness, (ii) dynamism and interaction, (iii) data privacy, (iv) relationships and connectivity, and (v) data sovereignty and adaptation to decentralised networks.

Sharing ideas

After watching a preview of the prototype of the platform, and having the results of the questionnaire in hand, participants were divided into groups to discuss the following questions: (i) what drew their attention about the diaspora radiography; (ii) their opinion; (iii) what mainly attracted them; (iv) explanations of how they experience privacy and technology; and (v) perceptions about the usability of the prototype.

To close the session, group discussions were presented, and issues such as the importance of language, attracting youth, boosting and strengthening the diaspora and the potential of the platform were highlighted.

In brief, the Global and Digital Basque Community is meeting for the first time within the framework of HanHemen, to jointly build a long-distance diaspora that is alive, cooperative, connected and full of enthusiasm. The HanHemen conference will continue throughout the year and thereafter.