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Gabin Forcier: meeting young Esperantists, episode 6

31 May 2022 Alumni News
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This May, I took a trip across the Balkan Peninsula. It’s a region that I’ve always wanted to visit, so I’m fortunate to now have the opportunity to discover it.

The Balkans still bear the scars of the war that led to the break up of Yugoslavia. The siege of Sarajevo lasted 4 years and bullet holes in the walls of buildings give some idea of the violent battles that were once fought on this city’s streets. Speaking to the locals, I learn that the ideal of a united Yugoslavia is up against a swell of nationalism.

Meeting with Esperantists also gives me the opportunity to spend more time living and chatting with local people. It helps me to understand that regardless of the lines drawn on maps, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and even Hungarians live in very separate communities that don’t necessarily mix. Sharing a common language makes it possible to address more complex issues that are important for understanding the region. (Many people don’t speak English, so thank goodness for Esperanto!)

For the 2nd time, I meet a family whose children have learned Esperanto from birth. A young man who is close to my age says he doesn’t use the language very much any more, but when he was younger, it allowed him to meet and talk to lots of young people across Europe and all over the world! I also meet an Esperantist on a Croatian island who lives a simple, hasslefree life! He is a shepherd, who spends his days taking care of his sheep and garden. The Esperantist world really is made up of very different characters!

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