Once a year, Esperanto-USA has a conference, a congress. It is usually during a summer weekend, hosted by one of the local Esperanto clubs in the USA. Sometimes it is in Canada or Mexico in conjunction with the national association of our border friends. But what is it like? If you have never been to one before, here is an outline of what goes on. The order of these might not be precisely as listed, but most of these will happen. See some of the terms and their approximate English meaning.
Conference? Congress? In English we would probably say “conference” but that might detract from the official business of Esperanto-USA that we discuss and vote on. The Landa Kongreso is where issues are formally voted on. We set the direction and budget, and count the votes for Board members. It is a mix of formal business matters, sessions of general or special interest, and meeting friends new and old. Some program elements are traditional, some required, and some are the choices of the Loka Kongreso-Komitato (the local congress committee).
Antaŭ la kongreso, la aferkunsido de la Estraro de Esperanto-USA (Prior to the kongreso, the business meeting of the Board of Esperanto-USA). The Board usually meets all day Friday, the day before the formal opening. It is the day of the Interkona Vespero (evening of getting acquainted). Board members usually arrive early Friday morning, or during the day on Thursday.
The Board meeting is open to everybody, but only the board members have the right to speak. If a non-Board member speaks, it will be because it has been previously arranged by the President, or because that person is requested to speak during the meeting by the president.
The Board meeting is in Esperanto except for financial discussions which are in English.
La plej grava parto (The most important part) Sometimes the most important parts are the unofficial, unplanned chats and friendships that happen at odd moments. Because of the setting of being with new friends and sharing ideas, there are a lot of conversations in rooms, halls, lounges, wherever new friends find each other. These chats are your part, your chance to express yourself and hear what others want to share.
Ne timu! Ni estas amikoj. (Don’t fear! We are friends.) Don’t fear hearing or using the language. We are all learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Even though some Esperanto speaker at the Landa Kongreso might be a stranger to you, you will find that he or she is also a friend.
The “Landa Kongreso” is the major event of the year for Esperanto-USA. Enjoy and Learn!
Alveno kaj Registrado (Arrival and Registration) Check into your room and register for the congress. Get the schedule of the events and look over location, times, and places of the events (eventoj) on the schedule (horaro). You will get information on how to use your room key, when to check out, and places of interest that are close to the conference site.
Nomoj de la Ĉambroj (Names of the Rooms) Sometimes there are names for the meeting rooms which are not the same as what is on the maps of the university or conference center. This is because we like to honor the giants in the Esperanto movement who have gone before. The schedule of events will likely show how these room names match up to those you might see on a map such as: Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, Julio Baghy, Don Harlow, William Auld, Marjorie Boulton, or Tibor Sejkl. There is a long list of people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Interkona Vespero (An evening to get acquainted) This is usually the Friday evening before the formal opening. Try to learn the names of a few new friends. Be sure to wear your name tag for the Interkona Vespero and for all the events of congress. Look at the name tags of others and try to learn a few names as you greet each other.
Be prepared to answer the following break-the-ice questions:
- What is your name (your Esperanto name if you have chosen one)?
- Where do you live (the nearest big city)?
- When and where did you learn about Esperanto?
Solena Malfermo (Solemn Opening, the formal beginning) An officer of Esperanto-USA will welcome you. This is usually the president, who presides.
- Forpasintoj (Those who have passed away) The list of those who have passed away during the past year is read. It is sad to go through this part of the ceremonies, but it is also good to notice how important each of our members is to us.
- Anoncoj, Klarigoj, Ŝanĝiĝoj (Announcements, Clarifications, Changes)
- Salutoj (Greetings) It is a customary for participants to speak to the group very briefly in turn, greeting the friends in the name of their hometown or local club. (“Saluton nome de la Esperanta-Klubo de Norda Teksaso.” [“Greetings in the name of the Esperanto Club of North Texas.”]) Giving a speech here is inappropriate. Because of the number of places and local groups represented, each greeting must be kept short.
- Parolado (Speech). The morning of the opening may have a keynote speech. It may happen as a part of the solena malfermo or it might be a separate item on the schedule.
- La Oficiala Malfermo (The Official Opening) The president declares the congress to be open.
Aferkunsido (Business Meeting of Esperanto-USA) This is open to all, but only members of Esperanto-USA can vote on proposals. These meetings are usually all in Esperanto, except for financial discussions which are in English.
- Diskutoj (Discussions) are usually in Esperanto.
- Voĉdonado (voting, literally “voice giving”) We vote on proposals, some of which have been prepared in advance, some are raised during the meeting, and some are brought forth from the board meeting on Friday.
- Buĝeto (budget) Discussions are in English. We discuss the budget for the coming calendar year. This is drafted in advance by the treasurer and brought into final form by the board.
Aliaj sesioj (other sessions)
- Kursoj (classes) There are sometimes classes at a Landa Kongreso. Look on the schedule and get information at the registration table.
- Niveloj (levels) You will meet participants of all levels of Esperanto skills. Look at the schedule for sessions geared to your interest and level.
- AAIE, La Amerika Asocio de Instruistoj de Esperanto (AATE, the American Association of Teachers of Esperanto) AAIE is a separate organization with close ties to Esperanto-USA. If you are interested in teaching Esperanto, AAIE might interest you. There are separate dues and a bulletin. Members of AAIE are automatically members of the international association of Esperanto teachers, ILEI.
- Fakaj (Specialty) There may be “specialty” sessions, such as for scouts, railroading, amateur radio, chess, or other hobbies or interests. Check the schedule to see what interests you. Is your hobby represented?
- Ĝenerala Intereso (General Interest) There may be interesting sessions with general appeal even if you are not involved with the hobby or subject. In the past we have had sessions on origami, how to speak with peace, a project to record frog calls, archeological discoveries in Israel, and the geology aspects of Oregon. There may be additional chances for a conversation circle at your level in one of the sessions. Many sessions are a result of the “call for presentations” sent out by the Loka Kongresa Komitato, (LKK, the Local Congress Committee) to members of Esperanto-USA several months prior to the congress.
Grupfoto (Group Photo) Check the schedule for the time and place of the group picture.
Libroservo (Book Service) Some of the books and other wares from the Esperanto-USA online bookstore (retbutiko) will be on sale at the congress, usually in a separate room. You may purchase books and other items here instead of waiting to purchase them later online. Members get discounts here just as they do with online purchases. It is not open during the entire congress, so check the schedule for the time and location.
Distra Vespero (Entertainment Evening) This is different at every congress. The local congress committee or local club plans this. It might be a presentation or it might be something to participate in. There is no general description that fits this event, other than they are always fun.
Akcepto por UEA delegitoj (Reception for UEA delegates) This short reception is only for UEA delegates. UEA is the Universala Esperanto-Asocio. It is the world Esperanto organization, to which Esperanto-USA is an organization member.
UEA delegates from each member country are UEA members who are volunteers to be contact points for UEA members who have questions about the country, region, or specialty of the delegate.
The reception is hosted by the ĉefdelegito (“UEA chief delegate”). The UEA delegates at the conference are the guests and are thanked for their service to UEA. This is a closed party. For more information, contact the chief delegate to UEA from the United States.
Manĝoj (Meals) The meals might be included in your congress arrangements or not, depending on how the arrangements are made. It may be that if the congress is in a hotel or conference center, that the only planned meal is the banquet and that you will have to find a nearby restaurant for other meals. If the congress is in a university, the meals might be included in the arrangements. In either case, try to sit with somebody who is speaking in Esperanto so you can hear and practice.
Bankedo (Banquet) For many, this special meal is the high point of the congress. The food is usually selected with consideration for individual preferences according to what you selected on the registration form.
- Aŭkcio (Auction) In the past, some congresses have had an auction to help raise money for Esperanto-USA or for a special purpose. Be aware that may or may not happen because it requires additional room in luggage for those who fly to the congress. If it is going to happen, it is usually announced ahead of time to allow participants to plan to bring donations.
- Voĉdonado por la Estraranoj (Voting for the Board members) The deadline for voting is announced at the solena malfermo Saturday morning. The deadline is usually at the beginning or end of the banquet. After the ballots are cast, the director of the Central Office and some volunteers count the votes. Only members of Esperanto-USA can vote. Your votes are important. The result of one office was recently decided by one vote.
- Festparolado (literally = party speech) There may be a speech during or after the banquet.
Solena Fermo (Solemn Closing) This is the last scheduled event of the congress, except for possible excursions.
- Finaj anoncoj (Final Announcements) There might be information on transportation, how to check out of your room, how to get the group photo, and where the congress will be for the following year. You will probably hear announcements or discussion about the UK (Universala Kongreso), ARE, NOREK, IJK, and other gatherings.
- Rezolucioj (Resolutions) There will be resolutions, some which might need your vote if they are not ready to call for votes during the aferkunsido.
- Aliaj dankoj (Other thanks) It takes a lot of work to put on a congress. We need to thank whose who have worked hard in good kunlaboro. “cooperation, collaboration.”
- La Nova Estraro (The New Board) The new board will be announced at the solena fermo, if it has not already been announced.
- La Oficiala Fermo (The official closing) It is the end of the congress and the president declares the congress to be closed. At this precise moment, the newly elected officers are in their roles and begin their term of duty (deĵoro).
- Kantado de nia himno “La Espero” – (The singing of our hymn “La Espero” [“The Hope”]) There might be printed words available. We stand and sing La Espero, written by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof.
Ekskursoj (Excursions) Check the schedule or announcement board, and listen to announcements. Excursions might be before, during, or after the congress. The local sights include some “must-sees.”
Internacieco (Internationality) There is the international aspect of the congress, whereby we meet a few friends who have traveled to our congress from other countries. The international theme is inherent in the language and activities. You will be more closely connected to the world at a Landa Kongreso. You might hear news from other countries or from UEA (Universala Espranto-Asocio), the world Esperanto association.
Post la kongreso – (After the congress) Be sure to tell your friends what a great time you had. Report the event to your local Esperanto club, and talk it up on social media. Share the group picture and your own pictures. Plan to attend next year!
Oftaj Demandoj (FAQ/Frequently Asked Questions)
- Is everything in Esperanto? No. Even some of the formal discussions may be in English.
- Who do I ask for help?
- Become familiar with the names and faces of the people hosting the congress, and with board members (estraranoj) of Esperanto-USA.
- For help with Esperanto, look for indications on the name badges indicating that the person is a volunteer (volontulo) to help beginners, but feel free to ask anyway to any participant.
- For help with other congress details you will find volunteers willing to help you in meeting rooms and other key locations. If you need help with an emergency, directions, lodging, meals, etc. please feel free to speak up.
Thanks to Bill Harris and the 2017 Local Congress Committee for contributing to this article.