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EAB has run an Esperanto summer festival or summer school for over fifty years, but the 2012 event broke with tradition by moving to Shallowford House in Staffordshire. This conference centre and Christian retreat provided a welcoming and very suitable venue; its quiet and secluded location let us enjoy a week of total immersion in Esperanto, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Shallowford house, venue of this year's summer festival
The study sessions were led by Jack Warren and this year's international guest lecturer, Zsofia Korody, originally from Hungary but now living in Herzberg "the Esperanto Town" in Germany. Challenging tasks exercised and expanded our proficiency in the language, while evening lectures broadened our horizons — all through the medium of Esperanto.
Course tutors Jack Warren and Zsofia Korody
But there's more to an Esperanto summer festival than formal study sessions; many other fun-based activities gave us more opportunity to practise the language in a relaxed and spontaneous manner - whether during word-games, a sing-along, or simply over tea and meal breaks.
Games, songs, meals and teabreaks - all in Esperanto.
How do you translate "distra vespero" into English? "Entertainments evening" doesn't really convey the variety or the fun, as we enjoyed sketches, songs, poems, readings, tunes, games ... and Alex' juggling with the Diabolo — difficult enough in its own right, but even more of a challenge while accompanying it with a continuous and fluent Esperanto patter!
Shallowford isn't far from EAB's office at Barlaston, and we enjoyed an afternoon excursion there, visiting the Esperanto bookshop and library, to browse and buy from the range of new and second-hand Esperanto books, discs and sundries. New in stock (having arrived that very morning) was Paul Gubbins' new anthology of Esperanto literature (in English translation) Star in a Night Sky, and Zsofia was the first to buy a copy.
Visiting, browsing and buying in the Esperanto bookshop
At the end of the week, the assessment by the participants was of a very successful festival - stimulating and enjoyable, in pleasant and very-reasonably-priced accommodation. We expressed our thanks for the hard work of tutors Jack and Zsofia, and also for Viv and Tim's organisation behind the scenes which made the event possible. We also appreciated the hospitality and friendliness of the team at Shallowford house, and thanked them with a copy of La Sankta Biblio (the Bible in Esperanto) for their library. We recognised the support from NoJEF which allowed Alex and Rowland to attend their first Esperanto summer festival, and to make their own individual contributions to an event in which everyone played a part.
Group photo; Alex presents a thank-you to Shallowford's director Simon Hudson
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