Lujan, Argentina. The academic community has paid a well-deserved tribute to Oscar Domingo “Vasco” Arla, who left an “everlasting mark” on the institutional life of the National University of Lujan in the Province of Buenos Aires (UNLu). The ceremony took place on December 20, just nine months after his passing, and included addresses by President Busnelli, his widow, Sara Alzamora, and President Arizio. During the tribute the name Oscar Domingo “Vasco” Arla was put on the installations of the Directorate of Academic Affairs and a plaque was also unveiled.
From the UNL they emphasized his participation in university life at every stage of his life. In his youth he was a student, who then went on to work as a non-faculty employee, went on to receive his graduate degree in education and then join the faculty as a professor. In every position that he held, he helped develop and achieve various initiatives. “Among many of his achievements – they stressed – he was the promoter of the lifelong learning initiative which was at the stage of implementation when the university was closed by the civil-military dictatorship, of which the “Vasco” was also a victim as a persecuted politician, detained illegally and dismissed by the law of dispensability of those times.”
“After its reopening in 1984 and his reincorporation at the UNLu, Arla fulfilled, among other functions, the Technical Secretary of the Superior Council, Director Technical Director (actual Director General of Academic Affairs), Coordinator of Regional Centers, Academic Sub-Secretary, advisor to the Secretary of Institutional Relations, member and later president of the Board of Directors of said social work, member of the Permanent Advisory Board (CAP) of the Superior Council and university representative to the SIU.”
Participating in the emotional tribute were University officials, faculty and non-faculty members, trade union representatives, students and alumni, and family members of everyone who knew Arla “a great doer in the world of education, a fighter for democracy, and a defender of public university.”
From Iparralde to Luján
Oscar Arla was born in Lujan, in the heart of a Basque family from Iparralde comprised of Ambroise Arla, from Doanixti Ibarre, Behe-Nafarroa, and Catalina Harispe, daughter of Zuberotarras from Urdiñarbe. “Ambroise came to Argentina due to the war of 14, with his brother Thomas, encouraged by their uncles Domingo Iribarne and Gabriela Berhouet,” Mariana Arla, Oscar’s daughter, told EuskalKultura.com. “During the war he cared for German prisoners. All my grandparents spoke Euskera. Even my grandmother Catalina, who even being born here, had just learned Spanish when she started school. Catalina and Ambroise settled in Cortines, near Lujan, where they were farmers and dairypeople. They helped many immigrants with their paperwork from Iparralde along with sisters Ana and Marie Queheille.”
Besides his work in the academia, and honoring his roots, Arla was also a distinguished athlete in soccer, and of course in pelota paleta. He married Sara Alzamora, and the couple had three children, Mariana, Laura and Matias, and five grandchildren, Estanislao, Dolores, Delfina, Martina and Josefina.
Without a doubt, the “Vasco” Arla knew how to transmit his cultural heritage and identity to his children and that is why Mariana, a fervent Euskaltzale, has become one of the references over the years of two Basque institutions with much longevity in Buenos Aires. Having settled in the capital nearly 20 years ago, Mariana began her Basque studies at Euskaltzaleak, where she worked and works tirelessly as the institution’s vice-president (2010-2014) and on the subcommittee of culture at the Iparraldeko Euskal Etxea. Oscar Arla and Sara Alzamora participated in many festivities and meetings organized at various euskal etxeas.