The sign above the door said “Espéranto,” so I figured we were at the right place. I opened the glass door, and my sister and I stepped from French-speaking Paris into the headquarters of Esperanto France, where the international language Esperanto is the tongue of choice. I greeted the man there with Saluton! and engaged in a dialogue which lasted a good while.
The subject matter was mundane enough—I asked him about their T-shirts that I had seen on their website, and he pulled them down and we looked through them; and he also showed me their small selection of Esperanto books for sale. But the amazing thing about all this was the simple fact that he and I were able to communicate, and on a much higher level than if I had used my meagre French skills.
Esperanto is a very unique and fascinating phenomenon that has allowed people all over the world to communicate and learn about other cultures. It isn’t a natural language, having been invented by L. L. Zamenhof in the 19th century, but this means that it is a neutral mediator for all peoples, unlike English.
And I’m glad I’m able to participate in it!