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The International Visitors Tent
By Michel Bryson, International Visitors Tent Volunteer Chair
May 2016 - There are many areas around the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh grounds, and one of the treasures is the International Visitors Tent. The IVT is two things—it’s both a place and a service for our international guests.
It’s a place to relax, a place to meet up with friends, a place to leave messages. The tent is centrally located, just on the east side of the Wearhouse. It’s a large, shady tent with plenty of tables for people to stop and do whatever they need to do. Guests can use the Wi-Fi to send e-mails home, eat lunch, plan their day, or just sit and relax with friends.
The IVT has message boards where guests can leave notes for one another. When international guests’ cell phones don’t work in the United States, we can go “old school” and leave handwritten notes. There are register books for each country, which serve two purposes: They allow us to count the number of countries represented and the number of international guests registered, and the books can also be used to locate friends who have already arrived. So if someone from Germany is looking for a friend from Switzerland, he or she can look in the Switzerland book, find whether the friend has registered, and leave a note on the board.
But most importantly, the volunteers in the IVT provide translation/interpretation and information services. Although some guests do speak English, not all do. There are roughly 30 volunteers who together speak dozens of languages. The volunteers help guests with whatever they need—finding things on the grounds, looking up the schedule, finding a vendor booth, or other general info. Many of the volunteers in the IVT are long term, so they are knowledgeable about the AirVenture grounds. Many also are local and can answer questions on the surrounding area as well.
The IVT has a dedicated cell phone number (920-230-7882) and can be reached anytime. Not only are IVT volunteers accessible via phone, but the volunteers can go where needed. So if there’s a guest at the gate who doesn’t speak English, the IVT can send someone to help.