Sunday, October 23, 2011

At the 18th Fall Esperanto Gathering (Part 2 of 3)

Legi tiun ĉi blogaĵon en Esperanto.

[This post is the second part of a three-part series on my weekend at the 18th Fall Esperanto Gathering.
Here's Part 1.
Here's Part 3.]

On Sunday, October 9th, I woke up, ate breakfast, and ran in the forest by the lake. The weather was unexpectedly warm, and the forest was beautiful. I had nearly finished my run, when I passed by the main meeting hall and saw everyone about to take the group picture. Fortunately, I arrived just before they took it.

After that, I came back to the house where we were staying, showered, and cooked a vegan lunch with my housemates. Chris also cooked delicious vegan cookies. Score!

That afternoon, Chris gave a lecture entitled “The other language problem: Why are languages dying? Does it matter?” Minority languages are dying out all over the world, as people are learning more widely spoken languages. For example, Native American languages are disappearing in favor of English. So what? Do ideas and culture get lost along with the language? What can we do about it?

Of course, as Esperantists, we all had a lot to say, so we ended up re-arranging the chairs into a circle, and discussed the topic as a group.

It was still beautiful out, and after the discussion, Normando led us on a walk through the forest, showing us different species of plants and birds. (All in Esperanto, of course – so cool!)
Our walk through the forest

That night, we played board games and card games. My favorite game was the Esperanto version of Bananagrams. If you've never played, it's like Scrabble, but much faster. Everyone plays against each other and races to build crossword grids using all their letter tiles. There are no turns—it happens all at once and it's a race to the finish.
Bananagrams in Esperanto
Another wonderful day in Esperanto-land.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

At the 18th Fall Esperanto Gathering (Part 1 of 3)

Legi tiun ĉi blogaĵon en Esperanto.

[This post is the first part of a three-part series on my weekend at the 18th Fall Esperanto Gathering.
Here's Part 2.
Here's Part 3.]

At the 58th National Convention of Esperanto-USA in 2010 in Washington, DC, I met a lot of friendly Esperantists. Two of them were Chris and Kaitlyn from Rochester, New York. I visited Chris in January, but aisde from that, we hadn't seen each other in a long time.

A while ago, Chris told me about the 18th Fall Esperanto Weekend, which would occur October 8th–11th 2011 in Silver Bay, New York. I now live in Albany, four or five hours away from Rochester, and on the way to Silver Bay, so the three of us decided to attend the convention together.

As a side note, the convention is officially called la Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo de Esperanto, or ARE for short. “Are” (pronounced ['a.ɾe], AH-reh) is also Esperanto for “as a group.” Esperantists seem to appreciate clever names.

Chris and Kaitlyn came to Albany on Friday, October 8th, and stayed with me overnight. We and three of my friends made a bonfire at my friend's house. It was cold out, so we enjoyed the heat of the fire. We chatted (in English – booo) [my friends here don't (yet) speak Esperanto] about various topics, including linguistics, economics, and vegetarianism.

On Saturday, we left for ARE. First, we stopped to eat lunch and to buy food at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, a cooperative grocery store in Albany. I love that place. There are tons of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, and also a variety of prepared vegetarian foods.

When we arrived at the convention,
The main meeting hall at ARE
there was a talk about go, a board game originally from East Asia. I've never played, and the talk seemed really interesting, but I unfortunately and embarrassingly fell asleep during it. In my own defense, I was really tired from the previous night and from driving.

After that, we payed for the convention (only $5 each, as students), and went to the house where we would be staying.
Our house at ARE
There were around thirty people in all, and about half of us were staying at that house. We cooked vegan food together (many of us were vegetarian or vegan), ate dinner, and returned to the main meeting hall.

There, Normando Fleury, president of the Quebec Esperanto Society and organizer of the convention led some ice-breakers. First, we split up into small groups, and introduced ourselves to our group. Each of us chose a color from a list, and explained to the other members why he chose that one.
Everyone chose a color, and explained to the other group members why he chose that one.

Next, we sat in a large circle, and everyone presented himself to the whole group, saying his name, where he comes from, and three words to describe himself. I chose the words “thought,” “learning,” and “cooking.” There was a variety of responses, many interesting and thought-provoking, and several funny ones, for example, “I don't know.”

Finally, we each received a small paper that said “Ĉu vi…” (“Do you…” in Esperanto) and wrote a yes-no question on it. Normando collected the papers, mixed them, and passed them out again. Then, everyone read his new question, and everybody either stood to reply “yes” or sat to reply “no.” Again, there was a variety of responses, but the one I most clearly remember is “Do you speak Esperanto with your pet?” I stood up for that one.

I really enjoyed the ice-breakers. In my opinion, Normando organized them very well, and they were especially well-suited for this kind of language gathering. If/when I teach English as a foreign language, I'll definitely borrow his ideas.

After that, we returned to our house, and played Dixit, a card game which I actually played for the first time in Esperanto, at the Summer Esperanto Study run by the Esperanto website lernu! in Slovakia in 2009.

The first day of the convention was great, and I fell asleep smiling, happy to be among Esperantists again.
My name badge for ARE