Presenting Esperanto at Expolingua Berlin Posted by Chuck Smith on Dec 3, 2010 in Uncategorized
On November 19-21, we had our annual language fair in Berlin, Expolingua! There were 200 exhibitors from over 30 countries and more than 12,000 visitors in 3 days. There you could find stands from language schools, travel agencies, exchange organizations, cultural institutes, etc. On the side, there is also a seminar program (PDF. mostly German) including mini language courses, information on learning languages abroad, translation work, etc.
Every year we have an Esperanto stand there and it’s quite a lot of work! This year we had 3 people set up the stand, 8 people presenting at the stand, and several people to tear it down at the end… and then we have to pay for the booth as well! A few months leading up to the event, we always have a discussion as to whether it’s worth the money and time it takes to run it, but there really is no better venue in Berlin in which to promote our language, so we’re there. We also discussed whether we wanted to put an organization name on the booth, but in the end decided that our ultimate goal is just promoting Esperanto and not any particular institution, so we finally settled for just “Esperanto”.
It’s also a great way to timely draw people to the weekend Esperanto course (in German) that we offer at the Esperanto House in Berlin. A local Folk High School is also offering their own Esperanto course next year, so we told visitors of that possibility as well. For a retema vizitanto (Internet-inclined visitor), we also gave links to the famous multi-lingual lernu! course as well as the more traditional Kostenloser Esperanto-Kurs (somewhat similar to the English: Free Esperanto Course)
Another reason to represent Esperanto at Expolingua is because the Deutsche Ido Gesellschaft – Ido Freunde Berlin (German Ido Society – Berlin Ido Friends) is always there. Wikipedia estimates that there are 100-200 Ido speakers in the world. Despite its small amount of speakers, if they were present and Esperanto were not, that would give a rather strange impression to the public. As far as I know, this is the only fair where I sometimes have to answer questions like, “How is Esperanto better than Ido?” which quite surprised me the first time I heard it!
In any case, if you ever get a chance to represent Esperanto at a fair, I’d highly recommend it! It’s quite an interesting way to hear the opinions of strangers about a subject typically quite foreign to them, yet near to you. You’ll be challenged in many ways and be able to tell others about your experiences with Esperanto: meeting new foreign friends, visiting strange lands and reading its unique literature. I plan to expand later on tips for presenting Esperanto to others in future blog posts, so keep reading!