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A little while ago, Judith Meyer organized an event in Berlin somewhat similar to my meeting: Urba Semajnfino (City Weekend). Find out what’s different in her meeting from mine in her own words.
I love diversity. I love trying new food, new drinks, new activities that are popular in another part of the world… it’s part of why I love Berlin, and Esperanto.
Esperanto is perfect for people who like new experiences: it not only gives you a good reason to visit countries that you might never have chosen to visit otherwise (e. g. Ukraine), it also takes care of most of the logistics of doing so, and organizes some opportunities to experience the local culture – and the culture of the many nations who attend the same meeting. Activities like the Internacia Kulinara Festivalo or the aligatorejo or also the lectures are perfect opportunities to learn about foreign cultures. Quite apart from the fact that spending a week eating, sleeping, dancing, drinking and laughing with people from other countries (rooming arrangements purposely mix participants) will tell you a lot.
You don’t even need to go to an Esperanto meeting for this (though it’s recommended). Just speak Esperanto online and you’ll meet plenty of people from many countries. Given the make-up of the Esperanto net population, it is quite likely that you’ll be exchanging ideas with people from Brazil, China, Japan and Europe… but also Iran, Ghana and former Soviet countries like Kazakhstan. The nice thing about Esperanto speakers is that they are generally interested in other cultures. If they weren’t, they would have little reason to learn Esperanto. This means that you’re so much more likely to be talking to people from other countries and who are interested in learning about your culture and in sharing theirs.
Because this interest is so common in Esperanto speakers, I decided to organize an Esperanto meeting that is even more ostensibly about experiencing foreign cultures. I called it the “Ekzotika Renkontiĝo” [exotic meeting] because I wanted to focus on things that are really foreign, from overseas. And where better to organize it in than Berlin? Berlin has an abundance of interesting places and exotic restaurants; it is among the most international European cities while also being among the cheapest.
The sign-up form for the Ekzotika Renkontiĝo, including a day-by-day listing of activities, can be found at http://is.gd/ekzotiko. As you can see, we covered quite a lot of ground, though 3 days (Friday evening to Monday afternoon) is not much. A dozen participants attended full-time and there were some locals who only shared some of the activities. The reactions were 100% positive and I’m getting a lot of messages about organizing another such meeting – probably next year.
Can this be a recipe for similar meetings elsewhere?
If you live near Harrisburg, PA or know an Esperanto speaker who does, please let them know about the Urba Semajnfino coming up next month (November 2011)!