(Historical photo, photographer unknown, from the website of Chinese Radio International.)
The Esperanto Society of Washington (ESW) has been around since the turn of the last century, when Americans were first becoming intrigued with the utterly modern and fascinating idea of an international language. In 1910 the local Esperantist community hosted the sixth World Esperanto Congress in Washington. Dr. Ludovic Zamenhof, the founder of the language, attended and gave a famous oration which began with the tribute to America, “Lando de libereco, lando de estonteco, mi vin salutas!” (“Land of liberty, land of the future, I salute you!”).
Over the years, ESW has sponsored a variety of activites to publicize and foster Esperanto in the nation’s capital as well as international and intercultural communication in general. A typical example was a presentation of a concert by a group of Esperantist singers from Slovenia (attended by the Austrian ambassador to the U.S.)
On another memorable occasion we held a Mongolian banquet to welcome a Japanese guest and his Chinese wife, attended by an Argentine, a Peruvian, a Vietnamese, a Cuban, two Bulgarians, an Israeli-educated American with his Chinese wife, and several other Americans of various ancestries — with such an international cast, you can imagine what a fascinating conversation ensued all evening, and all in Esperanto! We held a similar event to welcome a visiting Australian and his Korean wife.
Recently, several of our club members went hiking in Great Falls Park, which Zamenhof himself visited when he was here in the year 1910. Read about our recent events here.
Such international encounters, so typical of the Esperanto community, are one of the best fringe benefits of knowing this fascinating language. We have welcomed Esperantist guest lecturers from all over the world, and we have also presented panel discussions on Esperanto at area libraries. We have also occasionally offered classes in beginning
and intermediate Esperanto. In December 1995 we gave a presentation at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Every December, Esperantists everywhere celebrate the birthday of Esperanto’s founder and inventor, Ludovic Lazar Zamenhof, with a banquet which also observes Esperanto Book Week. Esperantists have always enjoyed Zamenhof’s birthday as their own version of the many December holidays which, in various ways, many religions and cultures celebrate the better aspects of human nature. All are welcome at this festive event. Sometimes we have had our banquet later, in January or early February, because December is often too busy a month for everyone.
Would you like to learn Esperanto and take part in some of these activities? Do you wish to just meet some local Esperantists? Come to one of our local meetings, and contact us!