Esperanto Language Blog

The exotic meeting Posted by on Oct 12, 2011 in Events

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.

Ethiopian restaurant

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.

5-player pong in Computer Games Museum

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 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)!

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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.