Usona Esperantisto № 2019:3 (may-jun)

Who have you told about Esperanto?

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I found out about Esperanto in 1973. I was driving my car from the university to work and heard a short Esperanto lesson on the university radio station, WOSU, in Columbus, Ohio. Jane A. Willis was the instructor and I gave her a call. Jane invited me to her home where she explained more about the language and gave me some materials and addresses to follow up. One of the items she gave me was a booklet Esperanto for Beginners (Butler) which piqued my interest enough to order more publications so I purchased: The Esperanto Teacher (Stuttard, 1970), Teach Yourself Esperanto (Creswell & Hartley, 1968), an Esperanto dictionary (Wells, 1969) and Step by Step in Esperanto (Butler, 1965) all of which I still have. I even joined ELNA and UEA and got El Popola Ĉinio mailed from China (I bet I’m on someone’s list for that).

I was 30 then and just finishing up my bachelor’s degree after returning from Viet Nam. I made a stab at the texts but couldn’t maintain the time requirement with college, graduate school, a marriage, two kids and a demanding professional career. I retired after 45 years of work and moved to Raleigh. Esperanto was on my bucket list and I got re-introduced to it by hooking up with Chuck Mays in 2016.

I found out about Esperanto by accident, the way most people do and maybe you too. We need something more intentional to acquaint people with Esperanto.

Marketing is defined as the “the activity for creating, communicating, delivering or exchanging an offering that has value for the customer.” Someone is trying to impress someone else about something, on purpose. When you watch a program on TV you will probably see commercials. You didn’t plan that, but somebody did. It was their intent but an “accident” to you.

Some of the most influential marketing comes from people who have used the product. When they are used in advertisements they are called “testimonials” (sometimes they are actors). Testimonials give credibility and a connection to the product being advertised.

Marketing is costly. Some TV commercials can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. As Treasurer of E-USA, I know we don’t have that kind of money, but we have our members. We need you to tell the Esperanto story — to be our testimonial. Spreading the word about Esperanto needs to be our intent to inform people about Esperanto and its value. You know the aspects of Esperanto. You have experienced learning it and know others who have done so too. You are the best testimonial Esperanto can have.

Chuck and I designed brochures that were stimulated by an E-USA brochure (I can e-mail you a copy). I keep them in my vehicles and leave them at my doctor’s office, Starbucks, the library, Barnes and Noble (in the foreign language area), university library, the local international festival, and I talk to anyone who doesn’t faint after I mention Esperanto. With approximately 600 members in E-USA, if each of us left one someplace once a month that would be 7,200 brochures a year across the country! Talk about it with friends, at church and at the library. You don’t know who you will inspire.

Esperanto is the most fantastic secret that we must share. Who have you told about Esperanto today?