On June 15-18, polyglots (people who speak multiple languages) came to Berlin to enjoy a rich program with like-minded individuals at the Polyglot Gathering (at which Transparent Language was also a sponsor). In fact, whenever I had to explain our event to outsiders, I usually just said, “Our participants speak an average of six languages.” So, when it comes to language-learning, that makes me average there! How does this relate to this blog about Esperanto though? Well, out of the 230 participants, 54 indicated during registration that they understand Esperanto and it really did feel like no matter where you went, you kept hearing Esperanto somewhere or another!
So, having said all that, I’d like to share my own personal experience as one of the three head organizers. Judith Meyer was the head organizer, Martin was in charge of participant administration and I did whatever was left over, which was mostly setting up tech for lectures and helping our amazing volunteers find their place at the gathering. Amusingly enough, the Polyglot Gathering was modelled after Esperanto youth conferences in Europe, so it already felt very familiar to me.
From the technical side, the first major issue was that an important button on our loudspeaker in the main room broke in the middle of the first day. There’s a button that you should push down for microphone, but not have pushed in for line in. The button just wasn’t holding, so Gavan Fantom had to rig an interesting mesh of tape and cardboard to keep the button down: an amusing solution.
As far as laptops and projectors went, I didn’t notice the general tendency of Windows laptops today to start using non-VGA video connectors. Many laptops today have HDMI or mini-HDMI connectors, but both projectors we had were relatively old, so next time I’ll be sure to have HDMI and mini-HDMI to VGA adapters on hand to make sure everything runs smoothly.
It was quite a shock to start writing back and forth with 30 potential volunteers for the Polyglot Gathering. Our volunteers were amazing! Some helped prepare the conference bags or film the gathering. Others helped with cleanup, lending equipment, and another drove us around the city. I want to thank all our volunteers for helping us make this an unforgettable experience for all our participants.
I want to give a special shout out to Georg Jähnig who took it on himself to organize the filming of the entire conference, and what an undertaking that was! We had cameras running in two rooms, and the setup for the big room was not simple, including separate recording for video and audio, which later needs to be merged together. While everything ran quite smoothly, I think next time I’d like to raise the participation price, so that we can have film students professionally film the event. That would also help to alleviate some of the burden on our volunteer team to help us focus better on other aspects of the event.
Having taken time to recover from the event, I can now look back with pride at how smoothly it all went. The notes we got from participants on our feedback flipchart still warms my heart every time I read it, even though I can’t read many of the obscure languages that appear there, ha! In a few weeks, we’ll meet up to decide if and when we’d like to organize it again. If you’d like to attend a similar, but more-academically oriented event, on Oct 10-12, the Polyglot Conference will take place in Novi Sad, Serbia, but sign up soon, because registration closes on July 7!