2015 congress: report and feedback

Australia-New Zealand Congress/Summer school – Melbourne (02 – 11 January 2015)

Ilia Dewi (Indonesia) & Teofilo Jesu Maria de Jesus (East Timor), during the excursion to St Kilda

Fifty people from seven countries participated in the joint Australian and New Zealand congress and summer school at International House, Melbourne University.

Because we really want to improve our relations with our neighbouring countries, we invited Ilia Dewi from Indonesia and Teofilo de Jesus from East Timor. Both represented their countries well.

“The congress was held in a pleasant atmosphere and our acute internal problems of the past few years certainly nearly disappeared into the darkness of history,” said Sandor Horvath, the current AEA president.

Our own Trevor Steele taught the experts about the Crusades, Richard Newsum led the intermediate level, and Ilia, our guest from Indonesia, taught the beginners.

Some of the outstanding presentations were the staging of the film 54 Days with subtitle in Esperanto, the Indonesian evening, and our first remote presentation, by Richard Delamore about Esperanto-TV.

We hope that our next congress will be a common, three-country (Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand) one during Easter 2016 in Bandung, Indonesia. Of course we will welcome visitors from all countries.

Chris Krageloh speaking about interlinguistics

More photos available

Feedback from the participants

Overall, the congress and summer school received positive comments from a number of people (“good”, “enjoyable”, “I learnt a lot”). The organisation of the event, including information on how to get there, was also praised. However, one respondent pointed out the need to attract more young people.

The venue also received positive comments, for its convenience (“everything in the one place”), accommodation, dining room, main program room, food and the friendly workers. One person appreciated the vegetarian options. However, one aspect of the venue that received most negative comments was the Wi-Fi: very difficult to connect (only four devices could be connected at once) and often very unreliable and slow.

The lessons were generally well received, and all three teachers praised. However four respondents in the intermediate class stated that they would have preferred a level between beginners and intermediate, with one expressing difficulty with the direct method. One respondent in the advanced class complained that bad pronunciation by some participants (which made it hard to understand the text) was not corrected.

A number of respondents praised the program (“a good mix of lectures”, “well organised”, “a good balance between excursions, lessons and individual presentations”). The excursions were described as “enjoyable” by three respondents, but two complained about the confusion with time-coordination between the “Ecological Melbourne” and “NGV” excursions. Two respondents suggested that there could be a better balance between Esperanto and English, and one suggested afternoon sessions for beginners or less experienced Esperantists. Other suggestions were:
• to place electives after dinner
• to have talks about Melbourne or Victoria, for those visiting the city
• to have an event for beginners at the same time as the AGM
• to organise a Google Hangout, so those not attending the congress could watch the lectures live from anywhere in the world, and so that we could have more lectures from non-attenders, such as Richard Delamore’s presentation.

One miscellaneous comment was a complaint about the disruption caused by photography within lessons, particularly when a flash was used.

The congress choir performing

Second AMO seminar – Sidney, Canada

A view of the seminar
On 9 and 10 July 2014, thirty or so activists from Canada and the United States, plus visitors from China, Japan and Taiwan, and I from Australia, participated in a two-day seminar for activist development (“AMO-2”) in the coastal town of Sidney (British Columbia, Canada). The seminar addressed the theme “The strategy and practice of Esperanto promotion in North America”, under the guidance of Dr Mark Fettes, president of UEA.

The Mary Winspear Center, Sidney BC, the seminar venue

Within the program were several presentations and discussion sessions, and various workshops on specific topics. At the end of the seminar four working groups were created, on:
– development of technical resources
– the use of social networks
– responses to FAQs, and
– creating a framework for further efforts towards sustainable development.
Each group aims to build upon ideas and discussions from the seminar, to prepare concrete recommendations and information resources over the coming months.

In the opening plenary, Fettes pointed out that information is more effective when it touches the feelings and emotions of people. Although one should not neglect rational arguments for Esperanto, a priority is the communication of core values – for example, that Esperantists are open, inclusive, inquisitive, educated, and with a high sense of personal responsibility. According to him, promotion of Esperanto should clearly show that Esperantists are multilingual and diverse people, who in turn understand and love human diversity.

Dr Mark Fettes presents the opening plenary

In another thought-provoking contribution, “How to talk to language teachers”, Grant Goodall challenged certain favourite myths of our movement. According to him, the irregularity of ethnic languages does not give as big a problem for learning as Esperantists tend to imagine. While American language teachers share some of our criticisms on the dominance of English, many of them see as a big problem in the spread of Spanish as a “second language for all” in American schools. Thus it is necessary, when in contact with language teachers, to stress our conviction that all languages are worthy of being taught and learnt.

A workshop on being interviewed by journalists led to an additional one on how to answer the most “ticklish” questions about Esperanto. In parallel were workshops about social networking and the creation of audiovisual information materials, such as videos.

One of the workshops

Some of the ideas which Fettes explored also evolved into a further working group. In a discussion about core values, the group realised that it would be necessary to rethink the look and content of the basic media and websites of the North American associations, to better communicate these values to the general public. For example, one could collect short personal testimonies and stories, from people of different ages, regions, ethnicities, etc., about the educational and interpersonal value of Esperanto, to graphically illustrate the colourfulness and inclusivity of the movement.

It became clear that we do not know enough about the backgrounds, motives, interests and abilities of those who are interested in Esperanto. Thus was born a project to survey several groups – such as association members, people seeking information about the language, lernu-users and NASK students – and to collect and analyse such information. With the support of the governing bodies of Esperanto-USA and the Canadian Esperanto Association, and specialist advice from Ĵenja Amis (a Master’s student in marketing), a small team will realise this project in the coming months. If it turns out to be useful, it could be a model for other national associations, such as our own (AEA).

Many interesting and useful pieces of advice were discussed. I hope to follow this report with more detailed notes, but in the meantime, amongst the pieces of advice from the seminar were the following (regarding contact with journalists, in interviews, media releases and articles):
– Find a concrete anchor or hook, e.g. an anecdote or quotation about a particular person, event or achievement.
– Avoid too many internal terms, abbreviations and esperantisms (e.g. “congress” and “Esperantist” – better would be a “conference” and “Esperanto speaker”).
– Pay attention to local culture and the ways that certain words and concepts are interpreted, such as “international”, “planned”, “constructed”, “artificial”, “universal” and “neutral”.
– Do not invent ”facts” in an interview. If you don’t know an answer, say so, and say something that you actually do know. Obviously, however, the more you know, the better!

Jonathan Cooper

[I would like to thank Dr Mark Fettes for his permission to use parts of his own report as a basis for my own.]

Report on the 2014 Congress and Summer School

Canberra, 3–12 January 2014

In the Australian National University in Canberra, one of countless buildings is called Ursula Hall. This is where the Board of AEA organised the Australian Esperanto Association 2014 Congress and Summer School.

About 52 eager people took part, from Korea, Nepal, Indonesia, Germany, New Zealand, Vietnam, New Caledonia, Hungary, and even more from Australia.

We met in a very clean, beautiful and large room. On the second evening (Saturday) Trevor Steele led a quiz, which amused us all, despite the fact that he prize was to be only the winner’s pride.

On Sunday morning there was an ecumenical church service. This was very interesting. We heard about many different religions and learned much. There was also some excursions to interesting places in the Australian Capital Territory.

The food and drink in the congress were many and varied. Perhaps many of us ate far more than was good for our health, but they were delicious.

There was a few performances of various kinds, for example the Nepalese Evening, presented by Indu Thapalia and Bharat Ghimire. We heard everything worth knowing about Nepal. Afterwards, Indu presented some Nepalese dance. Little by little, many beautiful fellow Esperantists joined in.

dance

Indu Thapalia leads fellow Esperantists in a modern Nepalese dance

Jonathan Cooper spoke brilliantly about art. Lumera Nohill also spoke, about the Korean Esperanto youth movement. She spoke very clearly, interestingly and without mistakes.

Dmitry Lushnikov led a discussion of ideas, about Esperanto Television, Esperanto House and language festivals. Rainer Kurz showed several videos of a film competition held in Germany. The screening actually became a ‘tiny film festival’: We chose our favourite videos and the winning one was awarded the ‘Australian People’s Choice’.

There was also a small language festival. Languages ​​covered included Chinese, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Korean, Nepali, Pitjantjatjara, Russian, Slovak and Vietnamese.

lecture

Dr Markus Gabor speaks about the Hungarian language

Of course, no one could attend everything, but here are a few other highlights:
• Huigh Malcolm and Terry Manley gave a talk on “The Archival History of the AEA”
• Daniel Kane talked about the famous Jørn Utzon, who built the world famous Sydney Opera House
• Charming Mary Staykova spoke of her aunt, Belka Beleva (a really very beautiful and touching speech)
• Trevor Steele spoke of the “Australian [Esperanto] Anthology”
• Heather Heldzingen talked about the World Congress in Iceland in 2013

lecturer and screen

Maria Staykova talks about her aunt, the famous Esperantist actress, Belka Beleva

On Friday, the choir entertained us beautifully with touchingly beautiful songs. There were also a number of plays and the day ended with a “disco”.

One of the beautiful songs sung by the choir

On the second-last day there were several excursions. One very interesting one was to a place where some scientists explore and communicate with Mars, Jupiter and many other planets and spaceships. We also went to see the National Arboretum. The banquet took place in a modern Thai restaurant on the final evening; the food was very tasty, but the noise in the place was hard to bear. Diplomas were handed out, etc., but the auction took place back at the college.

banquet

Bharat Ghimere presents a certificate to a course participant, during the banquet

Overall it was an excellent congress. Everyone was cheerful and helpful. It was a very great pleasure to learn something new and get to know friends from all over the world.

(Description of the congress based on a report written by Bob Felby)

Some comments by participants

I thought and felt the congress was very nice. I was able to meet everyone and talk, and also to eat and sleep well. So, the place lacked nothing. This event once again proved to me that Esperantists are indeed friendly, helpful, kind, clever and inquisitive people. Eko and I, on behalf of the Indonesian Esperanto Association, thank AEA for treating us as good friends.
Andre Samosir (Indonesia)

I was very pleased with the congress. I liked to attend the various lectures every day. I hope that in the future more Australian young people will come.
Lumera (Korea)

I very much liked the lessons and the opportunity to participate in a lesson, which I’d never done before. However, I often wanted to listen to the morning presentations, which happened at the same time.

The congress venue was good, comfortable and in a good place in Canberra. As well, Canberra is an ideal place for a national congress, interesting and not too hot.

The food was also good.
Mark Schmidt (Australia)

The conference was full, with much to do. The first, fun evening gave a good start and afterwards we were indeed well acquainted with each other.

I liked my course (Trevor’s) and heard good reports about the other two.

Eko (Indonesia)
I was very pleased that I could meet a lot of new friends who have given me new experiences. So, I will have some interesting stories to tell the Esperanto speakers in Indonesia. Many thanks to AEA for its generosity. Long live Esperanto all over the world!
Hazel Green (Verda Nukso) (Australia)

I now speak a little bit of Esperanto. The company was good. I’ll tell everyone about the Esperanto Congress.
Elizabeth Hellenpach (Australia)

I was very glad to have participated in the Australian Congress. I have learned much, not just the language, but also about history, artworks and Esperanto movements in various countries. I took part in the intermediate course and my level of Esperanto has improved. I had a very interesting time with Australian Esperantists. It was a wonderful time in my Esperanto life. Many thanks to AEA. I wish success to AEA.
Duong Tu Kieu (Vietnamio)

I heard a lot about Australian congresses and summer schools. So, luckily, this year I managed to participate in one. It was a nice congress, which took place in a beautiful part of Australia. Each participant was friendly, helpful and charming. I participated in the advanced course. The teacher was Trevor, a famous Esperanto author. I liked his teaching. He so charmingly and clearly explained the issues. Also, I was pleased with the bedrooms and the food. I hope that I can return to Australia sometime.
Indu Thapaliya (Nepal)

Download full program (PDF, 270 KB)