Universala Kongreso – something for everyone! (Part 1/2) Posted by Chuck Smith on Aug 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
David Dougherty’s comment caught my eye and finally he tells all of what the hell he was doing at the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto (Abbreviated: UK).
I learned Esperanto in 2005, and have had a fabulous time with it. I felt that I had to finally attend an Universala Kongreso. This is the biggest annual Esperanto event with visitors from all over the world. This summer I made sure to be there, from July 23-30, in Copenhagen, Denmark!
Here are my impressions from the perspective of a first-timer at the UK. Overall, I can say that I had a really good time. I used Esperanto every day, and met people from all over the world. I would like to share some of my observations, for the benefit of anyone who is thinking about attending an UK for the very first time.
1. The UK is big. Really big. There were, I believe, about 1,400 people there. Normally, I see this as a great opportunity: more chances to meet people.
[Chuck: The amount of participants in UK, typically range from 1,000 to 3,000 participants. In its centennial congress, they reached a record of 5,946!]
That said, during the first three or four days of the Congress, I felt that I was sort of lost. It became apparent to me that many of the people there go to the UK every year, and already know many people. They greeted each other and chatted, while I just wandered around aimlessly in the convention center. I was the new kid on the block. Were people rude to me? No, not at all. I just felt a tad out of place. It reminded me a bit of my first week or two in college, and I was not really experiencing Copenhagen, either.
I did meet some people, and they were mostly people I already knew from the Internet. This was great–I have chatted or spoken with some of them online for years, and this was my chance to meet them in person. Bit by bit, I started to meet people, including several who I did not know from any other place. By the fourth day, I had found my own “crowd.”
2. You have to find your own way at the UK. Once I did, things started falling into place. The UK has many events going on at the same time, so you have to choose. In the beginning, I went to several lectures on various topics, but these were not what made the Congress come alive for me. I stopped by one or two official meetings of UEA where they made some decisions, committee-type stuff. This is all very well and good–UEA is a formal organization, and many of the people who come to the UK are there to work. For me, this was vacation, and I wanted to experience some things that I otherwise could not. After drifting in and out of numerous events the first several days, I came to discover my “niche,” as it were. My niche proved to be the artistic and cultural events, exploring Copenhagen itself with my new friends, and smaller gatherings. Not every Congress can be all things to all people, and not everybody will like every event. However, there is a wide variety of programs, and I learned to explore various things until I found what I liked best.
For me, the questions were very simple:
a. Where could I meet people?
b. What were my personal interests?
c. What could this Congress offer me, that is not available elsewhere?
Once I figured out the answers to these questions (keep in mind that the answers to these questions will vary with each individual), I began to enjoy the Congress and to benefit from it. I had to remind myself that Universala Esperanto Asocio was offering many opportunities without pushing any of them–it is up to the individual to find what he or she likes.
In the next part, you’ll learn what he discovered in Copenhagen, so check back next week to find out! In the meantime, you can enjoy some of the national TV coverage of the event
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