I want to put forth my best effort in avoiding the usage of the letter ‘k’ for this post. The letter detached from the laptop typing peripheral surface a year ago, resulting in a mere spring-based stump where the letter used to reside. Beyond the wear and tear avoidance, I thought the attempt to leverage limited resources to be a useful exercise from time to time.
In the course of much travelling, I would normally attend the more general social meetups or language exchanges, which, although entertaining, become monotonous. I traditionally have not stumbled upon easily accessible clubs in a more specialized domain, or such clubs would presume a necessarily higher command of the respective language.
Here in Crakow (even the English variant of this Polish city cannot avoid the appearance of the culprit letter) I discovered several specialized clubs not only catering to attendance by anyone, but featuring English-based variants.
I would normally refrain from such meetups in light of wishing to focus communication in the local language, but in this case, I observed something entirely peculiar. In attending these English-based clubs, I’ve conversed in more authentic Polish than in the non-specialized social/language weekly events. It turns out more Poles attend the topic-oriented clubs, that, during the breaks, and the session having adjourned, communicate largely in Polish, such that I found no difficulty shouldering myself into the discussions.
The generic meetups, on the other hand, experience a significant foreigner presence, and English can easily prevail as the overall reigning language, especially in a country such as Poland with by far not the most popular language among outsiders, in contrast with Portuguese or Spanish, for example.
I previously addressed Toastmasters, which I highly recommend for training presentation and communication abilities. Here I wish to focus on the merits of additional clubs.
I’ve attended two other club meetings, which, similar to Toastmasters, are products of originally US-based organizations having gained much international prominence. They also facilitate the starting of local charters in cities without the club presence.
Socrates cafe features meetups worldwide, although far less ubiquitously than Toastmasters. The two-hour meetup provides much opportunity for not only captivating philosophical discussion, but also further communication ability toning.
In short, 15-20 of us deliberated and voted on the focal topic of the discussion, and then articulated our respective cases in turn, without interruption. Participants raise their hands to be placed into a queue (by the mediator, who passively leads the whole session), and present their case upon arrival of the turn, either to introduce a new viewpoint, retort on a previous case, or to request clarification of a recently made point. The rules don’t impose any strict time limit for a delivery, although the mediator can limit anything exceptionally long or overindulging. Additional restrictions on the format prohibit arguments of appeal to authority (which means no names and no references to external sources), discourage complex or unfamiliar vocabulary (fortunately I have not been restrained in my problematic habit of using or occasionally fabricating odd words), and the equality between all, which means no formal pronoun usage - a moot point in the English language. Here in Cra*ow, the club meets at an impressive frequency of once per seven days, alternating between English and Polish as the base language.
Lastly, I attended a 2600 gathering, an organization devoted to everything haquer-related, but more practically, catered to the security inclined. Per tradition, the meetups occur monthly on the first Friday, worldwide. At my location, the meetup takes place at a dimly lit exclusive salon of a VR retroactive cafe, maybe as a nod to the Cyber Reality motifs of the first Matrix. This may sound totally heavy metal, and yet the security focused atmosphere fades some of the charm, at least for me, not having much beyond theoretical exposure to that domain. I had optimistically imagined the focus to be more varied among alternative or retroactive technologies. Notwithstanding, I see much potential for the direction of such meetups.
While I haven’t explored other specialized groups in recent memory, I occasionally stumble among viable candidates. The Linux User Group maintains a source of worldwide Linux-oriented gatherings, which I strangely have not once attended, considering my rather fanatical devotion. Hackathons are organized worldwide, and can impregnate a cult mentality in frequently developing a habit of participating in these adrenaline-infused rapid-development sessions. On meetup.com I’ve also encountered specialized technology meetups on anything ranging from mainstream programming languages, to Lisp, to micro controllers, although many not actively maintained. I would encourage anyone with consistent geographical presence to organize a new meetup of interest or rejuvenate an existing one.
Travel meetups are not unheard of, and not in the casual sense of travellers simply congregating to discuss nothing in particular, but presentation-oriented, with slides, materials, or information to spread exposure to a particular travel-related topic. Such gatherings are notoriously common in Poland.
Literature, music, or art discussion groups are another alternative for those interested in a particular domain of humanities. I don’t have anything exceptional to add in that regard. The possibilities are wide.
As I suspected, the English language letters C and Q largely compensate for the ‘k’ sound, the latter less frequently encountered. Beyond the word li*e, which I loath almost to the extent of cheap vulgar language (and yet occasionally use), I cannot easily recollect other integral cases of the respective words.