On Saturday, I attended my first Esperanto renkontiĝo! The Esperanta-Societo de Metropola Atlanto (ESMA) held its monthly meeting at Thinking Man Tavern in Decatur, GA. Only a few people showed up, but those of us who did had a wonderful time.
I live an hour northwest of Atlanta, so I left my house really early to make sure I got there on time. I arrived an hour early, so I sat down and reviewed some Esperanto before the other members arrived. About 20 minutes before the meeting was to begin, two people arrived. One of them was carrying an Esperanto flag, so I assumed that they must be part of the ESMA group. I nerviously greeted them, “Saluton!”
I was very nervous about speaking Esperanto with others, as I have had no real practice speaking it other than to myself. I worried that I might mispronounce a word, or maybe even forget a word that I needed to use. Thankfully, all of my months of study finally pulled together in my mind, and I was able to carry on a long conversation with the others in Esperanto with great confidence. I was even complimented on my speaking skill. This made me very happy.
Shortly after the meeting began, we had a couple more people show up. These two are Duolingo learners, as I am as well. They were not very far into the course, but they made a great effort to speak and understand. I commend them for it, because I am not sure that I would have been as confident as they are when I was at the same point in my studies.
We all talked about our love for Esperanto, trips and experiences we had had abroad, etc. We also learned that two Esperantists from Cuba are coming in late June, and we plan to have a meeting during their stay so that they can meet everyone.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the food at Thinking Man is incredible. I enjoyed their delicious, house-made veggie burger. A couple of the others ordered a vegetarian barbecue sandwich that looked really good. (No, I am not a vegetarian, but I do love some vegetarian cuisine. I also learned that there is a connection between the Esperanto movement and vegetarianism, a topic I will have to research in more detail.)
I paid my dues, and now I am an official member of ESMA! I feel legit now. I volunteered to help with social media promotions for the group, and I am really excited about this new project.
The next renkontiĝo will be held on May 20th, again at Thinking Man Tavern. If you are in the Atlanta-area, I hope that you will join us. Ĝis la revido!