Alcoholics Anonymous Convention is Truly International

June 10, 2005

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous from all over the world will be traveling to Toronto to help celebrate the 70th Anniversary of A.A., held June 30 to July 3. When early members of A.A. described the first Convention as “international,” they meant simply that both American and Canadian members attended, but at succeeding conventions, held every five years since 1950, more and more A.A. members from other nations have joined the festivities.

From its beginnings in 1935 in Akron, Ohio and New York, New York - the home cities of the two co-founders - A.A. now has a presence in over 180 countries around the world. For this 12th International Convention, close to 80 of those countries will be represented, as what A.A calls “the language of the heart” continues to transcend geographic and cultural boundaries.

On Friday night, July 1, attendees gather for the opening meeting which features the flag ceremony, during which members chosen by lot from each participating country carry their national flags past a cheering crowd. Countries represented will include a first- time appearance by the People's Republic of China. Five years ago at the 2000 International A.A. Convention in Minneapolis, a group of Chinese physicians attended as observers. Later that summer two of the physicians were able to assist in establishing the first A.A. groups in two hospitals in Beijing. Next month, A.A. members in China will be gathering to celebrate their 5th anniversary of A.A. in the People's Republic of China.

Other countries having a first time A.A. presence at the International Convention include Cuba, Mongolia and Qatar. Non-alcoholic professionals invited to speak on panels will be traveling from China, Cambodia, Thailand and Turkey.

While the majority of meetings and workshops throughout the weekend will be presented in the three primary languages of A.A. in North America - English, French and Spanish - there will also be meetings or workshops in Japanese, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and Farsi.

One of the purposes of holding an International A.A. Convention is to let the world know that A.A. is alive and flourishing as a community resource, locally and internationally. In just a few weeks, there will be thousands of individual examples of how A.A. works converging on Toronto. While many languages will be heard, they will all be carrying the same message and sharing the same Fellowship.

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