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EAB News 2012-04-20 to 25: Joint British and Scottish Esperanto Congress

Joint British and Scottish Esperanto Congress 2012

Around 90 Esperanto-speakers travelled to Edinburgh, to take part in the joint British and Scottish Esperanto congress. The presence of participants from around 17 different countries gave the event a real international flavour, and gave everyone a strong motivation to use the international language Esperanto for the purpose it was originally developed – international communication!. The congress venue was (St Andrew's and) St George's West (church) in the centre of Edinburgh, which provided a large meeting room for the main presentations, a smaller room for parallel conversation circles, courses and the bookstall, and a cafe area for informal meetings and gossip, where the Esperantists also gathered for communal tea breaks and meals.

The opening ceremony included a welcome from Scottish Esperanto-Association (SEA) president Hugh Reid, Esperanto-Association of Britain (EAB) president John Wells, and European Esperanto-Union (EEU) president Sean O Riain. This was followed by talk and demonstration of the bagpipes by Pipe Major James Nicholl (with Esperanto translation by Ed Robertson).

During the congress, participants enjoyed a talks (in Esperanto, of course) on a range of topics - some concerning aspects of the Esperanto language and Esperanto literature, others covering general interest topics. There were also musical performances by Francesko Maurelli and Rob Hawkins. Rolf Fantom chaired an entertaining and lively comedy quiz, taking inspiration from (in turn) Nicholas Parsons, Humphrey Littleton, Angus Deaton, David Mitchell and Lee Mack. The four quiz participants all came from outside the UK, and gave amusing, quick-witted (and occasionally right) answers to Rolf's challenging questions.

During the congress, participants had the opportunity to visit the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, and one of the tours was presented (in fluent Esperanto) by the parliament's resident Gaelic interpreter Alasdair MacCaluim. Separately, Jean Bissett lead an ecumenical service in St Mary's Cathedral.

Formal Association business was conducted during efficiently-run EAB and SEA Annual General Meetings (see the separate report on the EAB AGM), including presentation of a topical update from Tim Owen on the fate of Wedgwood Memorial College and EAB's negotiations with Stoke on Trent city council. Joyce Bunting and Vilĉjo Walker ran the EAB bookstall (taking over £300 in sales of Esperanto books and DVDs), and Mia Casey ran a second-hand bookstall raising funds for SEA.

Following the congress, some participants stayed on for two days of "post-kongreso" excursions to attractions around and beyond Edinburgh, enjoying a tour of Rosslyn Chapel, a boat-ride on the Falkirk Wheel (boat-lift), a tour of Mary King's Close, a guided walk around Glasgow with Esperanto commentary from local resident Duncan Thomson (and his delightful young Esperanto-speaking daughter), lunch at Loch Lomond, and a tour of the Glengoyne distillery.

The whole event was a packed, enjoyable and well-run congress; congratulations and thanks go to the organisers Clare Hunter, Ed Robertson, Tim Owen and Hugh Reid, with help from Viv O'Dunne and Brian Barker. Planning is now under way for the next British Esperanto Congress on 10th-12th May 2013 in Ramsgate, and the next Scottish Esperanto Congress in the Highlands.

- Vilĉjo Walker

Paul Gubbins has compiled an evocative, captioned four-minute video-report of the event; you can watch it on

The Esperanto Association of Scotland has posted a gallery of photos from the event on their SEA Website.

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