Today was the first full day of the IJK. It was a jam-packed day, full of meetings, presentations, classes, conversations, and impromptu jam sessions. We enjoyed ourselves, but we’re also quite tired now. We have a lot to think about after our experiences today, but here are a few quick observations.
The congress participants come from many countries, but nearly everyone is from Europe. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but it is a little strange, especially as it means that many participants share a background that is more or less alien to an American Esperantist. For example, today in our morning language class, we were asked to do an assignment using the characters from the comic Asterix. Neither of us had ever heard of it (although now that we have, it sounds pretty interesting!), and the other participants were totally surprised when we told them that the comic is almost completely unknown in the U.S.
More seriously, we also heard an interesting talk on a democratic movement in Europe (DiEM 25), which used phrases like, “Europe, our home..” and other language that assumed a shared European identity. One brochure we found today described Esperanto as a language for all of Europe, instead of a universal language. We’re curious as to whether the congress is always so Europe-focused, or if this is a result of the congress location this year. Europe has historically been the strongest branch of the Esperanto movement, but that could certainly change in the future.
Less seriously, we had a great time today at the Kultur-Lingvo Festivalo (Culture and Language Festival). We tried food from all over the world and watched performances ranging from folk music to martial arts. Before the event, Bri got to join in on a jam session with a drummer from Mexico and a violinist, who really seemed to enjoy the klezmer and bluegrass music she showed them. During the festival itself, Angelica had a great time in the giant Esperanto dance circle during “La Bambo.”
We got some pretty good pictures from the event, which was held on an island in the oldest part of Wroclaw.