7th Asian Congress of Esperanto in Jerusalem

The 7th Asian Congress of Esperanto was held from last Thursday (2013-04-18) until this Monday (2013-04-22). About 160 people from 26 countries, including many from Europe, took part in this international event. Although I was one of its organizers, I initially planned to participate in it only for two days, but I ended up participating in it every day. It was much more than I had expected. Although the congress was called "Asian", participants from Europe seem to have contributed much more to its success than those from Asia.

Having spent five days in this temporary speech community of Esperantists, I have reconfirmed what I experienced and felt in two world congresses I took part in in 2009 in Bialystok and in 2011 in Copenhagen - problems of intercultural communication in Esperanto, on which I will give a talk in a systematic manner in the forthcoming world congress this July in Reykjavik, though I am rather afraid that I may speak publicly about a taboo many Esperantists might prefer not to speak about.

This time I have even found a more fundamental problem than problems of intercultural communication in Esperanto - some Esperantists, mostly from some specific cultures I will not mention in public, seem to have had no reason to invest their time and money to study Esperanto and maintain it in the first place simply because they do not seem to use it with speakers of other native languages except for greeting them and having a very shallow conversation at most; it is most likely that even in their mother tongue they have no intellectual dialog with anyone else.

Actually one can also call this a problem of intercultural communication. Every culture dictates its members what topics (not) to talk about, how to talk about them, etc. In this respect I have reconfirmed that more than 90% of the people, including Esperantists, behave according to the cultural stereotypes we have about them. Actually, it is thanks to them that each society functions normally. Of course, I would prefer those who defy these stereotypes. But I have also reconfirmed with people of which cultures I enjoy shmoozing even when they speak according to the cultural stereotypes about them - three groups in a random order: 1) Ashkenazi haredim, even if they are Israelis ;-); 2) Jewish American intellectuals; 3) Russian intellectuals, whether Jewish or not (and the common denominator between the three groups is that I can argue with them about every imaginable topic in a very unpredictable manner). Unfortunately, those from the first two groups are few and far between among Esperantists.