Who are you?
My name is Mikaela Goicoechea and I am the Music Programs Director for the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) and a university student studying Music Education. My father is a Basque immigrant from Gorriti, Nafarroa, and is a well-known bertsolari in the Basque-American community.
Where do you live?
I’m originally from Rock Springs, Wyoming, but I am studying at Arizona State University and live in Tempe, Arizona, for most of the year.
Who do you live with?
When COVID-19 started to become a more serious threat in the United States, I came back to Wyoming where I have been staying with my parents for the past 4 weeks.
What measures have been taken there to deal with the Covid-19 virus spreading?
So far, there has not been a formal stay-at-home order issued in the state of Wyoming, but many businesses have been closed or limited (hair salons, take-out only for restaurants, etc.), many social distancing and sanitation precautions are taking place in the businesses and public spaces that are still open, and people are encouraged to stay at home except for going to jobs that haven’t moved online and other necessities. Wyoming is the least populated state in the US and we’re the only state without any Coronavirus related deaths and have one of the lowest numbers of confirmed cases of the virus so far, so hopefully these precautions will help our situation remain this way!
Is the containment respected?
For the most part, people here seem to be compliant with the new regulations, but there are always a few that don’t take it as seriously as others do.
Do you still work? From home?
My university classes have moved online for the remainder of the semester, so I am doing my schoolwork from home, but I still work part-time at my parents’ business and help a co-worker’s daughter complete her online school work while her parents are working.
How do you use the Basque? How do you do bask culture considering the situation?
I have recently launched a collaborative project, Foku Musikala, that involves NABO’s Music Programs, Euskara, and Udaleku committees, to make Basque culture accessible to the Basque-American community through music and language related resources from the comfort of their homes. These resources include recordings of the song, instrumental recordings, a lyric video, English translation of lyrics, and a vocabulary list in Euskara and English that is drawn from the lyrics of the song. This project was launched during this unprecedented time because many Basque-Americans participate in regular Basque gatherings (dance groups, Euskara classes, etc.) and can’t participate in Basque culture in the ways that they are used to doing so, so this gives them (and myself!) an opportunity to learn more about Basque culture and language through music and hopefully have a little fun while doing it! Link: https://nabasque.eus/foku_musikala.html
How do you keep in touch with your friends and family?
In these past few weeks, especially since coming back to Wyoming, I have been using Zoom, Facetime, and Whatsapp regularly to keep in touch with my friends in Arizona and my family in other parts of the US and Euskal Herria. We’ve learned to be creative with our virtual meet-ups!
Tips for quarantine?
My top tip that I’ve been following in this time of quarantine is simply to connect with people in whatever way is possible. It’s easy to feel lonely right now, and that’s why it’s so important to connect with friends and family. We’re in a unique position where we suddenly have a lot more time to make those phone calls we’ve been too busy to make, send those texts we’ve thought about sending, and simply reconnect with people we love virtually until we can see connect again in person, hopefully in the near future!
Are you worried?
I would say that I’m cautious, but not worried. I take every precaution I can because I don’t want to be sick or want to make anyone else sick, but I don’t like to live in fear. I think the world needs hope a lot more than it needs fear right now, so that is how I’m trying to think about things!
Any advice (book, movie…)
To pass the time, I’ve been catching up on Las chicas del cable on Netflix, This Is Us on Hulu, watching old Disney movies on Disney+, and watching celebrity livestream concerts to pass the time when I’m not practicing and learning new songs to sing and play on guitar, ukulele, and piano!
A positive point, an anecdote?
I think my favorite part of this whole situation is how people are coming together. Families are spending more time together, people are working together to protect the most vulnerable, people are taking time to thank the people who work on the front lines, and artists are sharing their art in unconventional but really beautiful ways. I’ve been watching videos on YouTube and social media of people coming out on their balconies or in their front yards and thanking healthcare providers and/or simply singing and making music together from a distance. The videos I’ve seen of this from Euskal Herria have brought tears to my eyes! I hope that this revived human connection is something that continues after we return to our “normal” lives.