The essay prompt given was ‘How has the Basque Cultural Center enriched your life as an American Basque?’ While I could spend pages depicting how specific events and people involved with the Basque Cultural Center have enriched my life; I find that there is a much simpler yet more meaningful answer. And that answer lies within the fact that the Basque Cultural Center has acted as a teacher to me; obviously portraying lessons of the old country and its history. Yet there are two major, interrelated lessons taught unknowingly by the Basque Cultural Center that have truly enhanced my existence.
The first lesson can be found within the prompt itself. One might ask how I could possibly extract part of my answer from the question. However, it was the prompt that made me realize that the Basque Cultural Center has enriched and enhanced my life by teaching me that I can be Basque as well as American. This important lesson has shown me that I need not choose between being Basque and being American, but that allowing characteristics of both cultures to simultaneously exist within me will make me a more well rounded and interesting person.
The Basque Cultural Center has taught me this through simply existing and allowing Basques to come together. The fact that people are able to join together freely, demonstrated to me the significance and greatness of America. And the fact that Basques come together to proudly celebrate their common heritage conveyed to me just how beautiful the Basque Culture is. This enlightenment has augmented my life in that it has aided me on my path to self discovery and in the creative process of cultivating a unique identity.
The first lesson regarding the fact that a person does not need to choose between heritages leads into the second lesson. The second lesson, while less specific nonetheless contains monumental value and has equally improved my subsistence. The second lesson that the Basque Cultural Center has instructed me in revolves around the idea that one’s life should not merely be one dimensional but a complex and abstract painting full to the brim with vibrant colors and intense implications and meaning.
The Basque Cultural Center furthered this lesson by slowly portraying how one must achieve such a life. It taught me that one must embrace the heritage which runs through her veins and wholly understand said heritage in order to attain this goal of an abstract existence. It taught me this lesson in again merely existing. I say this because in my numerous trips to the Basque Cultural Center I have often observed many of the other Basques. And this aided me in understanding how one must embrace the Basque heritage. I saw it in the tear that slowly rolled down a man’s cheek as one of Xalbador’s famous bertsus resonated throughout the ballroom through the voices of children, and in the revered silence of a Basque mass, and in the way a group of Basques would sit around the table and fill the room with the magnificent songs of so long ago. These simple actions were all indirect occurrences due to the Basque Cultural Center and because of its existence these occurrences were able to positively impact my life and show me exactly how I need to love and embrace the Basque Culture.
Embracing the Basque heritage through the Basque Cultural Center was even portrayed by my father. As I continue to grow I watch my father dedicate hundreds of hours to keeping the Basque Culture alive. His sincere dedication and unremitting support has shown me the importance of the Basque culture, and instilled within me the qualities of perseverance and ardor.
If it had not been for the Basque Cultural Center much of my childhood would be entirely different and many of my wondrous memories of the Basque Cultural Center would be non-existent. However, more importantly if it had not been for the Basque Cultural Center, the lessons might not have been passed onto me so intensely. Because of the Basque Cultural Center and its imperative lessons I have been able to better understand who I am and who I wish to be. It has helped me greatly in discovering aspects of myself that would most likely have remained hidden otherwise. The Basque Cultural Center itself and the lessons it has taught have enriched my life by being a constant reminder that one is given certain elements and with these elements one must piece together a unique existence while always keeping in mind who she is and where she comes from.