Esperanto Language Blog

Esperanto in Harrisburg, PA (Nov 19-20, 2011) Posted by on Oct 5, 2011 in Events

10 people from 4 cities (1 was photographer)

In 2009, when I last visited the USA, I wanted to meet a new Esperanto speaker in Williamsport, PA and invited him to join Judith and me for lunch in Harrisburg at an Indian restaurant called Passage to India. On a lark, I informed a friend in New Jersey about it and he decided to come out too. Then I told someone I knew in Washington and he brought friends along. In the end, we had 10 people visiting from 4 different cities! American Esperanto speakers are dying to meet up, but currently don’t have a venue for it, except once or twice a while at a relatively large meeting like the national American Esperanto conference or the Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo de Esperanto [Autumn Meeting of Esperanto].

Thinking about all this about a month ago, I fondly remembered attending the Junulara Esperantista Semajnfino, a series of local Esperanto weekend youth meetups. I attended the last three of them, in San Francisco (2001), New York (2001) and Philadelphia (2002). Unfortunately, that meeting in Philadelphia, which I actually organized, was the last of the series. I remember at the time, we considered the problems of the American Esperanto movement: we are so spread apart and have less vacation days than our European counterparts (for example, the legal minimum vacation days in Germany is 4 working weeks, so 20 days for an ordinary 5-day workweek). So, we decided the most logical way to help people practice would be to organize small Esperanto weekends. This way people could drive out on Saturday morning and leave on Sunday evening, thus being back in work by Monday morning.

Local Esperanto speakers

Then, I had a crazy idea. I realized I was already visiting Harrisburg, PA at the end of November. Now, with all the resources the Internet puts at our fingertips, I could organize a small weekend Esperanto meeting in Harrisburg from my home in Berlin, Germany! I first put together a map of all the Esperanto speakers I knew from the area, and discovered that Harrisburg had to be our location! Then, I looked into lodging possibilities and discovered a hotel right next to Passage to India. Unbelieveable!

So, things were starting to fall into place. I considered what is available for sightseeing locally, which could be of interest to tourists and decided Hershey Chocolate World and the National Civil War would probably be most interesting. This also helps balance the program between “fun” and “educational” activities. Then I looked for another foreign restaurant to add to the international atmosphere and found a Thai restaurant relatively closeby with good ratings.

With the lodging, food, and sightseeing in place, I set about creating a schedule. Here’s what I eventually came up with that evening:

Horaro en Esperanto

Sabate, 19-a de novembro
tagmezo – alvena tagmanĝa bufedo ĉe Passage to India ($11 nur por manĝaĵo)
posttagmezo – Hershey’s Chocolate World (senpaga)
vespero – amuziĝi kiel ajn! 🙂
nokto – dormi en 4-personaj hotelĉambroj Comfort Inn Riverfront (por ĉiu po $40)

Dimanĉe, 20-a de novembro
vekiĝo – varma matenmanĝo en hotelo (inkl. kun loĝado)
mateno – National Civil War Museum ($8 studentoj, $9 pensionuloj, $10 plenkreskuloj)
13:00 – tagmanĝo Bangkok 56 Thai Cuisine (manĝo, trinkaĵo, imposto, k trinkmono: $11-30)
vespero: hejmvojaĝo

Schedule in English

Saturday, Nov 19
noon – lunch arrival at Passage to India buffet ($11 just for food)
afternoon – Hershey’s Chocolate World (free)
evening – hang out wherever! 🙂
night – sleep in 4-person hotel rooms Comfort Inn Riverfront ($40 per person)

Sunday, Nov 20
wake up – hot breakfast in hotel (incl. w/ lodging)
morning – National Civil War Museum ($8 students, $9 seniors, $10 adults)
1 pm – lunch Bangkok 56 Thai Cuisine (meal, drink, tax & tip: $11-30)
evening – go home

Notice that I added an empty Saturday evening to not overwhelm the participants. As an organizer, it’s quite tempting to try to fill up the entire schedule. Don’t! People need time to relax and do whatever, and often these “unorganized” times are the most memorable of a meeting. From what I hear from long-time Esperanto meeting attendees, after a few years, they just start ignoring the program and just hang out with their friends they haven’t seen in a long time. I can only agree with that from personal experience.

So, as of this moment, 8 people have signed up (including a German and a Mexican)! 6 more have said on facebook that they will be attending. I’ve already reserved 2 riverside hotel rooms for participants and will reserve more if there is more interest. If you live nearby, I’d encourage you to sign up for the event and hang out with us in Harrisburg, PA on Nov 19-20, 2011. If your Esperanto isn’t that good yet, don’t worry, at least 2 of the people coming don’t speak Esperanto and will be accompanying loved ones, so you won’t be alone. See you there!

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About the Author: Chuck Smith

I was born in the US, but Esperanto has led me all over the world. I started teaching myself Esperanto on a whim in 2001, not knowing how it would change my life. The timing couldn’t have been better; around that same time I discovered Wikipedia in it’s very early stages and launched the Esperanto version. When I decided to backpack through Europe, I found Esperanto speakers to host me. These connections led me to the Esperanto Youth Organization in Rotterdam, where I worked for a year, using Esperanto as my primary language. Though in recent years I’ve moved on to other endeavors like iOS development, I remain deeply engrained in the Esperanto community, and love keeping you informed of the latest news. The best thing that came from learning Esperanto has been the opportunity to connect with fellow speakers around the globe, so feel free to join in the conversation with a comment! I am now the founder and CTO of the social app Amikumu.


  1. Bernardus:

    Mi devus fari kiel vi ankaŭ ĉi tie en mia urbo. Dankon por la inspiro!

  2. Betty Chatterjee:

    That sounds like a really good way to spend a week-end. Plezuran kaj sukcesan semajnfinon!

  3. Tim Owen:

    That’s such a good point that wouldn’t be obvious to those of us in Europe; owing to the USA’s size and the spread of its cities it’s simply not feasible to run events for everyone in the same way that, say, nobody in Britain could say that Edinburgh is (site of 2012’s Esperanto Conference) is impossible to read.

    Oh, I don’t want to upset your compatriots, Chuck, but I get five weeks’ holiday entitlement. Plus we get a further eight (?) days of public holidays … and a bonus one next year for The Queen’s diamond jubilee 🙂

  4. David:

    Wonderful idea indeed. I am part of a small and recently founded group in South Florida and we have been brainstorming about potential activities to attract existing and new esperantists. Thanks for the idea and inspiration.

  5. frank helmuth:

    kara chuck–dankon pro la informoj pri la semajnfino en harrisburg. bona evento.
    inter 1965 kaj 1990 (proksimume)la esperantistaro en kalifornio okazigis tiajn
    semajnfinojn chiujare kun granda sukcseso.
    mi deziras al vi bonan kaj ghojigan semajnfinon. tutkore, frank helmurh

  6. frank helmuth:

    saluton chuck–bona ideo. dum la jaroj 1960-
    1990(proksimume) ni okazigis semajnfinajn kunvenon en kalifornio, kun granda sukceso. mi deziras al vi bonan kaj ghojigan
    tutkore–frank hekmuth

  7. Neil Blonstein:

    As confirmed in several comments, one of my longest and biggest gripes against the United States is LACK OF VACATIONS. Now that Chuck has seen both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, he can inform them of what they are missing. (I’m an exception as a retired teacher, who traveled on may summer vacations (mostly for Esperanto) and just took a 44 day trip around the world with Esperantists.

  8. Dimo Mosier:

    I’m going to start working on getting an Esperanto semajnfino going in my town, Iowa City, IA. I’m assuming there were tour guides at the museum and Chocolate World? I’m sure they didn’t speak Esperanto so, did someone translate for the non-usonians? (I don’t think we’ll have any foreigners for the first couple years at the very least)
    Was the Saturday evening completely free time, or were there things going on that people could pick between?