SSi Forum

NAFOW and catching up - American/Canadian SSiWers, your thoughts please... :-)


#1

I’m flying back today from Washington - shell-shocked and inspired.

Sorry I didn’t keep up more on the forum - today is the very first day my laptop has worked with the hotel wi-fi! And I’m just generally very bad with anything other than voice/video messages on my mobile…

But I’m looking forward to telling you all the news - it’s been a quite remarkable week, and - ahem :flushed: - I think we’ve massively underestimated the importance of our diaspora learners for the future of the language.

More soon… :slight_smile:


What are the challenges for Welsh societies in America/Canada?
#2

Can’t wait to hear all about it. Safe journey home! :airplane_small:


#3

Hope you have a boring flight; they’re the best kind to have (safe take off, safe flight and safe landing). It was an amazing experience for me to meet up with you, Tahl, Sionned and Atomic_Newt. For me it a life enhancing event; something I will never forget, my first Cymraeg meet up.

I posted my experience in the Meetup section of the forum.


#4

Safe journey home. It sounds fascinating. Looking forward to reading your news.x


#5

Cartref Croeso, Aran. We missed you! But after all that long travelling, ease yourself in gently, please! (If you know how! haha) x


#6

It’s Delaware Jones and his horse and six-shooter!

Fantastic to see you here as well… :slight_smile: And DIOLCH for your company and enthusiasm and cauldron of ideas at NAFOW.

Still jet-lagged, still playing catch-up, but the ‘What I did last summer’ round-up will happen…


#7

Okay folks - been a busier ride than I’d expected getting back into the swing of things - not least because one of the people who helped make my NAFOW visit extremely memorable (Jesse, our Facebook guy from LA) has been here for the last week.

But this week (today and tomorrow aside!) is starting to look somewhere near normal again, so time to start trying to mull all this over.

1 - huge, HUGE diolchs to everyone involved with NAFOW - particularly @tahl, our tireless SSiW rep and NAFOW organiser - you and Katherine put on a heck of an event.

2 - folks, there is a stunning amount of passion over on the other side of the Atlantic - this is all happening on a scale I hadn’t imagined, and everyone I spoke to from Wales who was over visiting/speaking/performing at NAFOW for the first time was every bit as amazed as I was.

So that’s my first key point:

In Wales, we often wonder why the Irish and Scottish diasporas are so much noisier and more involved than the Welsh diaspora. But they’re NOT. The Welsh diaspora is on fire, and we haven’t been reaching out in return. That HAS to change.

3 - those 4 or 5 days were the first time in my life I’ve felt as if I had EXTRA social status BECAUSE I spoke Welsh. That doesn’t really happen in Wales - you’re either normal because you’re talking to friends, or an irritant because you’re trying to use your language with someone who doesn’t speak it, or normal again because you’re in the Eisteddfod - but HIGHER social status because you speak Welsh? Nope, doesn’t happen.

Except at NAFOW. More Welsh speakers need this experience - and more Welsh speakers need to hear about this experience. It’s an attitude changer.

4 - There’s talk at NAFOW about age profiles - about how they’re all getting older, and 3rd or 4th generation kids are harder to keep connected - particularly in a very brave lifetime award acceptance speech by Donna Lloyd Jones. There’s work to be done to keep the momentum going, because they’re not wrong about the age profile. BUT…

Second key point:

The age profile for people attending NAFOW because they had learnt Welsh was dramatically different - skewing much, MUCH younger. There’s new blood and energy and enthusiasm right there - and it’s the language can help bring more and more of it in. Freya, for example, must have been in her late teens, and her Welsh - learnt over the previous year or so - was outstanding. Bryan’s Welsh was excellent, and he’s definitely a youngster from where I’m standing…:wink: Our very own Delaware Jones (aka Court, but how could we bear to lose such a superb cowboy name?) was on fire, using his Welsh with everyone, full of ideas, from zero to full speed in a matter of six months or so.

The language is a KEY part of building on what NAFOW has already achieved.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

5 - bloody hell it was exhausting! Just a non-stop whirl of fascinating conversations and idea-swapping and enthusiasm and coffee and late night bars. I would like SSiW to become a regular part of NAFOW, but I’m going to need to call in reinforcements. I’m currently trying to figure out how we could take a whole bunch of SSiW people over every year. [Hey, does anyone have a spare ocean-going super yacht?]

6 - it wasn’t embarrassing at all walking out of the opening concert literally RIGHT PAST Emyr Gibson waiting to make his grand entrance with TRIO - ‘hi, er, yeah, this is definitely not me walking out of your concert right in your face, um, just got some learners to talk to and, um, really looking forward to your gig (or possibly to hearing about it from other people)’… :flushed: I think he’s just about forgiven me - he was still buzzing about NAFOW in the Bar Bach the other night, at any rate… :slight_smile:

7 - while I’m feeling embarrassed - just how LITTLE have we done to support what’s going on over there? This has to change. Lots of good ideas were bubbling up, and we need to kick some of them on into implementation. There are a LOT of ways we could and SHOULD be helping more.

8 - we MUST find a way to share these stories with people in Wales. This is real mindset shifting stuff. The next time someone tells me to ‘say it in English!’ I’m going to be thinking ‘Actually, I’ve stood in the middle of Washington D.C. and it was fine for me to be talking Welsh there so it’s bloody well fine for me to be talking Welsh here thank you.’ I know that S4C did something once about NAFOW - and Mal Pope was doing stuff for Radio Wales on an insane late night schedule this year - but it ought to get at least a couple of days of the kind of coverage that the Eisteddfod gets. It’s IMPORTANT for us to know about this, even just for the emotional pay-off.

9 - it’s embarrassing that major Welsh brands aren’t supporting NAFOW more. The Market Street is a great idea, but where the hell were Penderyn, Ty Nant, Brains, our big hitters? And more than just a visiting speaker from the government?

10 - the amount I’m yammering on here is just the palest shadow of what was going on at NAFOW (and this is without me doing any diary-ish I-did-this stuff - my first ever Cymanfa Ganu! The Robert Cray Band on tour! Random welcoming Americans taking stray Welsh blokes for midnight tours of Washington! Not too many people falling asleep in my presentations!). So we have to be realistic - this isn’t a one thread deal. The first thing we need to do is set up a comms channel for people involved over there, and for people in Wales who want to help build on this.

So that’s my third and last (for now!) key point:

American/Canadian SSiWers - and other SSiWers who want to get involved with this - what’s the best way forward for keeping those NAFOW discussions going?

Should we have a thread here?

Or would it be better to set up a dedicated channel in the SSiW company Slack?


P. S. Coming before the end of the week - a NAFOW-inspired idea about how we can help involve youngsters in America AND help hit the Million Speakers target… an idea I think has got serious legs… an idea that would NOT have happened if I hadn’t been paying attention to NAFOW…


#8

@Deborah-SSiW - can we go front&centre for this on the email? :slight_smile:


#9

It’s already got top billing :sunglasses:


#10

Should we have a thread here?

Even though I’m only American by virtue of my daughter’s Milwaukee wife, I’d appreciate a thread on this forum in preference to Slack. :smile:
Fantastic account cyfaill. It’s almost as if you thought the visit was enjoyable and worthwhile. :smile:


#11

I agree, start an official thread and sticky it to get something started…maybe this is it.

Based upon my experience at NAFOW, first Cymreig anything, and talking with Aran, SSiW’s Tahl and many others is the need to get organized. The hardest part of getting organized, is getting organized.

What I observed is a lot of passion for Wales (language, culture, history, current events) BUT it consists of a lot of small groups spread throughout the United States and Canada. I think having a centralized information warehouse that reaches out to all the groups, gathers members info (name, email addy, city state) and facilitates the passing of information to all groups. The goal is to have effective and quick communication. It will be through the sharing of information that links will be reinforced and new links added. For example, If I’m traveling to the West Coast of the US and want to see if there’s anyone w who will speak Cymraeg with me, I can search the information warehouse, and reach out to a group or individual. Another example, The Welsh Society of Fredricksburg, Virginia had a festival last Saturday. Using the information warehouse they can reach a larger audience (US and Canada).

The same type of warehouse is constructed in Wales and the two are linked. Information is flowing between US, Canada and Wales. That is key is to have people collaborating, getting together, speaking Cymraeg, sharing experiences, ideas. Once effective communication is established, it will be amazing to see the ideas that will be generated! I can picture groups from US & Canada traveling to Wales, or Welsh music bands crossing the Atlantic, or more dysgwr Cymraeg, or Welsh branded products finding new markets.

I don’t know who the best group would be to set up and host the US/Canada database. Perhaps NAFOW as they have several connections already?

In the next week or two, I’ll generate a list of Welsh society’s in the US and Canada, that will be a start.


#12

Oh yes, that’s the voice of experience right there… :slight_smile:

Love the information warehouse idea… and probably needs to have some kind of core value offer, above and beyond ‘be listed’…

Strongly agree about bands and stuff - no reason why that sort of exchange should be a once a year thing - just about knowing where the numbers are, and being able to sell enough in advance to justify travelling…

So - shall we start with a ‘who wants to be part of the conversation?’ thread? Or turn this thread into exactly?


#13

There you go, taking an idea and making it better! :sunglasses: I don’t think it matters if we use this thread or begin another. As long as it get traction and pushes forward. That’s the key…finding good ideas, determining who can do what to make the idea happen and then follow up…getting organized. On my part, I’ll gather a list of Welsh groups in the US and Canada to generate an initial contact list. Wonder if NAFOW can help in some way?

I think some Welsh bands could be successful in the US. I’d like to see Adwaith. There are so few all female bands and fewer still that are good. Their sound would play well in the alternative rock niche. Meic Stevens could have a successful following, if he doesn’t already. However, as there’s not enough Welsh speakers in the US/Canada, songs would need to be translated into Saes. But, that’s okay because the Welsh accent would be adored over here.


#14

I’m guessing that Global Welsh has some involvement with NAFOW??. I’m sure that you know who they are, but for anyone who doesn’t, I’ve put the link below.

or in English


#15

They didn’t seem to be on the radar in any of the conversations I had, so I ended up feeling as though I was plugging them… :wink: Definitely some important follow up stuff to do there…

@tahl - would it be a good idea to start by listing who we think ought to be involved in this comms channel?


#16

I’ve just checked out their glossy website and their “mission” seems to be focussed on encouraging global economic support which the defunct Welsh Development Agency engaged in until 2006. I had a good look but could find no mention of cutural or language priorities.

For this reason I feel that there is so little overlap or conflict between SSiW and Global Welsh that both can work independently in North America and elsewhere.


#17

Why work independently though - I wouldn’t view global Welsh in a bad way at all or with conflicting or different aims - it’s driven by business people but don’t confuse them with the WDA - it’s chalk and cheese. I know some some of the people involved and they’re the good sort that have pushed this off their own back, because they’re proud to be Welsh and want Wales to do well - as we all do.

They’ve tried to get WAG support and they’ve made the right noises, but so far very little financial support.


#18

I trust that nothing I said implied that the organisation is bad or the people weren’t good. I said expicitly that I could see “little conflict or overlap”

Why work independently though

I can only answer this from a personal and perhaps selfish point of view. I have spent many years of my working life working with Welsh quangos and universities to promote Wales in Europe and beyond and I still feel that this is an essential activity. I joined SSi* because of my interest in languages and Welsh in particular and sharing views on Welsh culture has been a natural part of that. I no longer have any interest, however, or skills in promoting the economic/business strengths of Wales. This is why I, personally, will be content to see the two entities do what they do best independently.

I repeat this is one personal view and it is not my hope or intention to persuade anyone to agree. :smile:


#19

To me you are right in that Global Welsh is inspired by business links, which I have no problem with - I like that to be honest, but Wales and Welsh culture are definitely a core element of that - it means nothing without it. You can better tell me about SSIW, but to me it is all about language and culture, but I strongly suspect that those others business things are not totally unimportant or insignificant.

I think though this is a more a matter of priorities, which is important, but deep down we all know these two things impact on one another and all organisations that genuinely want the best for Wales would be better off with a close level of cooperation, information sharing and maybe organisation etc.

These things on the face of it are very distinct and different organisations, but the people involved in both have one thing in common - Wales - inspired by our gwladgarwyr a wladgarwraig (sorry - I made that word up).


#20

Yup, I think that Huw is spot on that SSi and Global Welsh are non-competitive, and that Toffidil is right that they’re doing some great work - their work to match Welsh SMEs to global business leaders for mentoring is outstanding… :slight_smile:

Here are some people I’d like to see involved in the NAFOW/SSiW comms channel - Diane, I know you’ll be able to add more… :slight_smile:

@Sionned
@delawarejones
@atomic_newt and Joe!
Mari and Hywel
Megan Williams
Katherine
Dale Richards (?)
@tahl
@lewie
Bryan
@grdnlyb
@joanalciati
@debw12
@AnnaC
@jessicaskyedavies
@Allison
@SusanDavies
@simonowenwilliams
@joanie
@lynnbejencks
@lizwilliams
@bronwynq
@maeganlanger

Me tagging you in here should mean the forum sends you an email - if it does, could you post to say something like ‘Yes, shhhh’ or a variation thereof? :slight_smile: