On December 15, 2009, the Universal Esperanto Association of New York hosted a symposium to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ludvik Zamenhof, the man who developed the language Esperanto and introduced it in 1887.  

The symposium took place in a building across the street from U.N. headquarters. Five speakers discussed the philosophy, thinking, and legacy of Zamenhof, and the cultural and intellectual influences of his time.  (Program and speakers' bio see below.)

The audience of about seventy people included journalists, staff from non-government organizations, one UN ambassador, and other interested people.

To read about information and program for the
Zamenhof Symposium in 2010, click here!



Universal Esperanto Association


L. L. Zamenhof – Innovator and Humanist


A Symposium on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of His Birth, December 15, 1859


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2:30 – 5:00 p.m.




The Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017


More info: 212-687-7041 or neil_nachum@yahoo.com




Chair: Thomas Eccardt




2:30  Welcome


2:40  Esther Schor  (Princeton University): 
Zamenhof and the Shadow People


3:10  Arika Okrent (author):
Zamenhof and Humility


3:40  [break]


3:50  E. James Lieberman (George Washington University):
Psychological Aspects of Zamenhof and His Leadership Philosophy


4:10  Timothy Reagan (Central Connecticut State University):
The Construction of Language


4:30  Humphrey Tonkin (University of Hartford):
Zamenhof’s Legacy


5:00-6:30  Reception
(brief comments from Neil Blonstein, UN Representative for the Universal Esperanto Association)


Esther Schor, a poet and professor of English at Princeton University, won the National Jewish Book Award for her book on Emma Lazarus (Schocken, 2006).  She is the author of The Hills of Holland: Poems and Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria. She is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The Forward and Tablet Magazine 

Arika Okrent, a freelance writer, received a joint Ph.D. in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Psychology’s Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program at the University of Chicago.  She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers and the Mad Dreamers who Tried to Build a Perfect Language (Spiegel & Grau, 2009).   

E. James Lieberman, psychiatrist and writer, has taught in the medical schools of Harvard, George Washington, and Howard universities.  He is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Public Health Association, and author of Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank (Free Press, 1985), in addition to articles on Zamenhof and Esperanto. 

Timothy Reagan, Professor of Educational Leadership at Central Connecticut State University, received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1982.  He has served on the faculties of Gallaudet University, the University of Connecticut, Roger Williams University, and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.  His research focuses on issues of language and culture in education, and his publications include work on foreign language education, bilingual education, TESOL, language planning and policy studies, and the linguistics of natural sign languages, most recently Language Matters: Reflections on Educational Linguistics (Information Age, 2009). 

Humphrey Tonkin is University Professor of the Humanities and President Emeritus at the University of Hartford, where he teaches in the Theatre Division and in the English and Modern Language Departments.  He was formerly Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and President of the Universal Esperanto Association.  His publications include two books on the poetry of Edmund Spenser, two books on international studies, and edited volumes, articles and translations on aspects of Esperanto and language policy.  He co-edits the journal Language Problems and Language Planningand the book series Studies in World Language Problems.