It was a flawless, sunny Sunday for the Esperanto Society of Chicago’s annual picnic.
As I walked up to the house with tell-tale green balloons outside, I was a little nervous. This would be my first Esperanto event and my first experience speaking Esperanto. Tim (my neesperantista friend who came with me) and I were greeted almost immediately by the kind hostess, Sepideh, who took us to the spacious backyard.
Esperantistoj continued to trickle in, and before long it became a full-fledged party, with ten of us or so. I found it impossible to remain nervous around this bunch; all were friendly and utterly understanding of my errors in speaking. (I almost got away with saying that I had a younger daughter rather than sister, but the error was caught and we all had a good laugh.)
We discussed ourselves, families and friends, music, books, the Internet, and so on, but we were often laughing and joking with each other, like old friends reuniting. Indeed, the “interna ideo” was clearly shown through our interactions.
As Zamenhof put it, the interna ideo is “sur neŭtrala lingva fundamento forigi la murojn inter la gentoj kaj alkutimigadi la homojn, ke ĉiu el ili vidu en sia proksimulo nur homon kaj fraton.”
Our group was a mixture of nationalities, native tongues, races, ages, and backgrounds, but from the moment we entered the yard, we were Esperantistoj en Esperantujo.
Even Tim, who had never before had exposure to Esperanto, began picking it up rather easily and could understand much of what we said. Everyone in our group also took the time to speak to him in English about Esperanto and simply to chat. Some neighbors stopped by and joined us, and a time passed of krokodilado, for the most part about Esperanto. There are no foreigners in Esperantujo.
There was good food, discussions, games, music, and all of the elements which usually constitute a marvelous party. Yet, never have I felt so welcome in the company of strangers, nor felt so inspired by any other party.
Esperanto changes people and widens one’s view. It truly breaks down walls and creates a worldwide family of which I am proud to be a part. I extend my thanks not only to the Esperanto Society of Chicago, but surely to all of Esperantujo, for being my family and my inspiration.