Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Urba Semajnfino: Sirakuso a Success

The following is an English translation of an article I wrote for La Ondo de Esperanto to share the Urban Weekend: Syracuse event. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the event a success.

Urban Weekend: Syracuse, the third Urban Weekend event to happen in the United States, took place during the weekend of August 31 in Syracuse, New York. Esperantists came from near and far to meet new friends and explore the city. As the main organizer, I was a bit nervous. I had never organized an Esperanto event before. Would the weather hold out? Would anyone come? Would they enjoy their time together? But indeed the weather was beautiful, and people came from Rochester NY, Virginia, and even Brazil. Everyone had fun and Urban Weekend: Syracuse was a success!

A little before noon on Saturday, four of us met the city's central park and then walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is popular for its beer, brewed on-site, and also for its support of Central New York agriculture by using locally-grown ingredients.

After lunch we walked about in the city for a bit and made our way to two museums. The first, the Erie Canal Museum, remembers the Erie Canal which connected Lake Erie to the Hudson River, and there we met two more esperantists. The canal no longer exists in its current form, but it has historical significance to both the region and the United States because it opened the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and enabled westward migration. Everyone enjoyed learning how the canal helped shape the country and seeing how life was like for those who travelled it almost 200 years ago.

The second museum, the Everson Museum of Art, is an art gallery known for its ceramics, pottery, and film exhibits. The collection may not be as impressive as the ones found in larger museums, but it has its several pieces worth enjoying. And perhaps even more special, the museum building was designed by the internationally acclaimed architect IM Pei who also designed the Pyramide du Louvre in Paris.

After exploring some of the art and history of Syracuse, we were hungry and were ready to eat. The six of us went to a Mexican restaurant occupying a former church building. Even this building had significance; the church was a station in the Underground Railroad in the 19th century. A secret tunnel under the church was a refuge for slaves running north in search of their freedom.

To finish the first day, we socialized and watched a film - House of Ghosts, a comical horror film dubbed with Esperanto voice and subtitles.

Most of the day Sunday was spent visiting the zoo, home to over 700 animals. A family of five esperantists who couldn't attend the first day joined us. The children in the group loved looking at the elephants, penguins, and lions. It was also a good opportunity for the adults to improve their animal-related vocabulary.

We ate lunch after the zoo in a near-by popular Irish restaurant; the food was great, and there were some local musicians playing in the pub that we enjoyed. The neighborhood where the restaurant is located was settled by Irish immigrants who came to work on the Erie Canal, and near the restaurant is the famous “green on top” traffic light. As the story goes, the settlers wouldn't allow red (the color of the British) to sit above green, and they threw tones at the light in protest anytime the city tried to hang the light correctly.

Weekend events similar to Urban Weekend are good for busy esperantists who are not able to attend the longer major events, and like all Esperanto gatherings, is a good opportunity to meet new friends, explore new places, and take part in Esperantujo. If one is held near you, I highly recommend that you participate. If not, why not organize your own? It's easier than you might think (I speak from experience!). The Manlibro pri Urba Semajnfino is a good place to start.