International Visitors Tent Provides Home Away From Home

With most borders finally open, international visitors are flocking back to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. No matter where they come from, they are welcome to have the International Visitors Tent as their home base. Here, visitors can get translation services and gather information about the show and the local area.

The International Visitors Tent has been providing services for international visitors since its founding in 1974, founded by Nancy Martini.

“Nancy was one of the initial people that started the International Visitors Tent back in 1974,” said Michel Bryson, chairwoman of the International Visitors Tent. “She recognized that people coming from around the world needed additional assistance, primarily with language and just learning their way around Oshkosh and the air field.”

The International Visitors Tent has continued to work hard in helping AirVenture attendees, growing from the small army tent it had in 1974 to a large event tent next to Boeing Plaza. As the tent has grown, the community has also grown.

“The change over time has kind of shifted a little bit away from just the translation service,” Michel said. “Those are still needed … but it has really grown to be a community. This is the place that people from all over the world can meet and chat with one another, meet up with old friends, talk about what’s happening in their country. It really has become a real community spirit within the tent here.”

The community was happy to come together again after many not being able to return since 2019.

“Last year was very bittersweet for us because, although the show was on and some of us were here, there were [very little] international visitors,” Michel said. “We only had a few hundred, 10 percent of what we normally do. It was very difficult for us, but now it’s been three years, they’re all coming back, and we’re all getting to see each other again. It’s going to be great.”

This is a poignant reunion, however, as founder Nancy Martini passed away this June.

“If it wasn’t for Nancy, none of this would be here,” Michel said. “We would not have the great group of volunteers that we have today; we wouldn’t have the friends that we’ve made over the years. It’s due to Nancy and just that mindset and that understanding that people needed help that we’re even here today. We all owe Nancy a huge debt of gratitude.”

As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the International Visitors Tent had received 864 visitors from 62 countries. Of these countries, seven were not here in 2019 and three have more attendees than in 2019. If you are visiting from outside the United States, you are invited to stop by the tent to register yourself and meet other international attendees.

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