Wikimedia Community Ireland recently traveled to Donostia in the Basque Country for a Wiki Women Erasmus+ Wiki-thon which saw students make presentations on their work so far and provided a chance for some cultural exchange between students, teachers, and the partner team. 

The goal of the WikiWomen Erasmus+ project is to highlight the gender gap in content and empower students in minority language communities (Gaeltacht regions, Basque, Friesland) to write Wikipedia articles about underrepresented women in their languages. This addresses the gender imbalance on Wikipedia in terms of representation. A key output from the project will be to provide educators, students, and GLAMS [galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) with free resources to engage with work on their regional language Wikipedias.

Representing Ireland (and the Irish language) in this project are Wikimedia Community Ireland and Coláiste Oiriall in Monaghan. A group of new student Wikipedians and their teachers from each place took part in the meet-up which was hosted at Antigua-Luberri BHI secondary school and the Basque Wikimedians User Group (Euskal Wikilarien Kultura Elkartea). We were also joined by our Frisian partners including Learning Hub Friesland,  The foundation Fryske Akademy, The Afûk, and a cohort of Frisian students. 

Overall the meet-up was a roaring success, with lots of student engagement, skill sharing, and cultural exchange. The partners also progressed with the creation of the toolkits, planning their launch at Celtic Knot and our next Wikithon which is set to take place in Friesland this Autumn. In between lots of productive sessions, we got a real taste of Basque culture and heritage, explored the city of Donostia and some gorgeous nearby towns. Read on to find out what we all got up to!

All of the WikiWomen Eramus+ Partners at Antigua Luberri Secondary School in Donostia

 WikiWomen take Donostia Day 1

On the first day, we all gathered at Antigua Luberri Secondary School and were treated to some a wonderful basque dance performance from one of the talented students. Then after a warm welcome and some icebreakers, the students went to work on their presentations so they could showcase the Wikipedia articles they had been working on to the rest of the school. Simultaneously the partners had a very productive meeting to discuss the creation of the WikiWomen Tool kits. 

Students preparing to present the WikiWomen Erasmus+ project to the rest of the school.

In the afternoon we had a blustery but beautiful walking tour of the city led by the Basque teachers and sampled some pintxos in the evening. A pintxo translates to “thorn” or “spike” and is a small snack that is traditional to northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country. Typically eaten in taverns or bars while hanging out with friends or relatives; they have a strong socializing component. In the Basque region, they are usually regarded as a cornerstone of local culture and society (and not to mention delicious!). 

Traditional Pinchos in Donostia, Cailínréalta, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Day 2 

We headed to the Tabaklera media lab. The media lab is an amazing resource built in an old tobacco factory that offers resources of knowledge, technology, and spaces to facilitate learning processes, produce knowledge, experiment, and develop projects.

Here we had the opportunity to saw an amazing art exhibition and interactive art exhibition presented by artist Kimia Kamvari.  Then the students got the opportunity to interview the artist and to source information that they then used to write her Wikipedia page. The students worked all afternoon in groups to write pages on Basque female artists in all three minority languages. 

Students interacting with the art at the Tabakalera Exhibition.

The students hard at work writing Wikipedia biographies on Woman Artists at the Media Lab.

The partners on their way into the Tabakalera Media Lab in Donostia.

After the work was done, we took a trip to a nearby town called Passeia. Here we visited Albaola Maritime Culture Factory where a group of volunteer boat builders have been working on building a replica of the best-preserved sixteenth-century shipwreck of a Basque fishing boat found off the coast of Newfoundland Canada. Those involved are putting into practice five-hundred-year-old shipbuilding techniques that have since been forgotten. The project received UNESCO protection status in 2015 and is an ongoing work in progress. Upon completion, a crew of 40 people will take on the same journey of the 16th-century fishermen to Canada. They will dress in the linen clothing historically worn and eat the same food. This journey could take up to six months! We finished the day with a boat tour of the area. 

The replica of the 16th-century Basque Whaling boat being built at Albaola Maritime Culture Factory.

Learning all about traditional Basque Whaling boats and boat building at Albaola.

Day 3

On the last morning, we gathered once more at the school where students presented their Wikipedia biographies on women from their region and shared their experience of creating them. Some shared challenges and others successes. The partners met to discuss the next steps and the next wiki-thon coming up to take place in Friesland. After sharing some music from each country we all headed to lunch at the nearby university. 

An example of the amazing work being done by the students. This article was created by an Irish student.

We finished off the day with a trip to the nearby picturesque town of Hondarribia. We walked the cobbled streets of the old town and saw the colorful fishermen’s houses. Across the estuary, we could even see France! We finished the evening with a traditional five (!) course meal of shared Iberian jamon, crushed tomatoes, monkfish, and other Basque delights. We toasted to a successful trip and left happy with full bellies and tired feet.

Traditional Basque buildings in Hondarribia’s old town.

The Basque flag flying alongside the International Women’s Day flag seen at Hondarribia.

WikiWomen Erasmus+ Basque Wiki-thon was a Roaring Success!

The third edition of the WikiWomen Erasmus+ exchange was a roaring success. WCI extends our sincere gratitude to all the partners who made this happen, especially our Basque partners who were such amazing hosts! 

The official launch of the WikiWomen Erasmus+ Toolkits is set to take place at the Celtic Knot Wikipedia Languages Conference this Autumn. This will take place from the 25th to the 27th of September 2024 in Waterford. You can find out more here.

If you are an educator or work in a Gallery, Library, or Museum and are interested in learning more about or even getting involved with the WikiWomen Erasmus+ Project please feel free to reach out!

Our lovely Basque Partners about to set sail on the boat tour!