Carmen García de Burgos Velón
Secretaría Xeral da Emigración of the Xunta de Galicia
The Internet was created in 1969 by the US Advanced Research Projects Agency to maintain communications in the event of war, and the World Wide Web was invented in 1989 to allow members of CERN's different European scientific teams to learn instantly about the latest discoveries made by their colleagues on a particular topic. It is now used by more than 4.3 billion people around the world. Facebook was a tool created by Harvard University student Mark Zuckenberg to allow him to gossip about fellow faculty members from their rooms. Today it has over 2.3 billion users worldwide. Almost all the great inventions of the last century and this one have been developed to break down physical distances and make it easier to bring information and people closer together.
And as long as it is impossible to eliminate the disadvantages of earthly separation, situations such as the present one, in which the coronavirus pandemic has isolated the whole world, can limit and condition our lives in ways that we had never imagined.
Precisely to break these barriers and to continue to bring Galicians closer to their land and their families and friends, the Xunta de Galicia, through the Secretaría Xeral da Emigración, has just created the Aula Galicia Aberta, a training proposal that seeks to minimise the damage that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing to Galician centres around the world (there are Galicians in 146 countries, and only 51 have not registered) and to Galicians themselves, allowing them to get closer to Galician culture and tradition through a cycle of open and totally free seminars that are given through Facebook live for ten consecutive weeks coinciding with much of the confinement period. This explains why, in the first two weeks alone, there were almost 150,000 views from all over the world, with special emphasis on Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, Venezuela, Portugal, the United States of America, Chile and the United Kingdom, among other countries.
Four typically Galician disciplines (singing and tambourine, traditional Galician percussion, traditional Galician bagpipes and traditional Galician dance) are taught by experienced teachers (Leni Pérez, Alexandre Martínez Castro, Jhonathan Ferreira and José Antonio Viñas, respectively), not only to perfect the knowledge of those who already have a previous education, but also to encourage those who have not had any previous contact with these instruments to get closer to them. The technique used is highly didactic, and the seminars are presented with an increasing evolution in difficulty that allows its followers to grow musically every week. At the same time, all the sessions maintain a certain independence, so that it is possible to follow those that most interest each of the virtual assistants without having to participate in all of them. In addition, all the teachers, after the one hour lesson, which is broadcasted through the Secretariat's Facebook live, spend the next hour solving all the doubts raised by the users, also live.
As the approach is originally educational, as well as being informative, teachers send out weekly teaching material that students who wish to follow the class in a more lecture-oriented way must have reviewed before the class. This material is posted on the website of the Secretaría Xeral da Emigración, Galicia Aberta, approximately one week before each session so that users can consult it whenever they wish.
In this way, both Internet users who are looking to stay active or learn some discipline, and those who are looking for a mere entertainment and approach to Galician culture and traditions in this Aula Galicia Aberta, will find what they are looking for. And it allows Galicia to continue doing what it does best: spreading around the world the rhythm of muñeiras and traditional folklore, bringing the whole world closer to its beaches, mountains and historic cities. Just like it hapens with the Camino de Santiago.