Seren yr Wythnos #10
Louis van Ekert
As I've worked my way through the Ser so far (including, ahem, missing last Friday - because, 5 day intensive!), it's becoming increasingly worrying for me that people might think they're being released in some kind of ranking order.
I've even toyed with making them all Seren yr Wythnos #1 - but that would get a little confusing, I suspect.
Anyway... ladies and gentlemen, I give you Louis van Ekert.
Louis is a star in every possible sense of the word (except perhaps the one about large incandescent celestial bodies). He's stuck his hand up enthusiastically every single time we've ever asked for any kind of volunteers - time and time again, he's paid for a round of champagne for everyone at the SSiW Birthday Party - he's single-handedly brought copious amounts of sunshine to every Bootcamp he's been on (Louis is a part-time Sun God - I'm still not sure if he's ever actually seen it rain in Wales) - and when things have been tough, he's always been there with enthusiasm and support.
As our only current (to the best of my knowledge) Dutch Australian Welsh-speaker, he gets inundated with media requests when he visits the Eisteddfod - I remember one year when he seemed to have a comet-like trail of journalists following him every time I saw him - and he puts up with it all gracefully and good-heartedly, never missing a chance to give SSiW a plug.
When we launched the under-loved ffrinDiaith project, I was lucky enough to get Louis as my ffrinDiaith - truth be told, I can't remember if he sent me a request, or if I sent him one... Ever since, we've had a regular (hiccups aside) weekly chat in Welsh - well, I say chat, but the truth is Louis often gets landed with nothing more than an extended listening exercise - which he puts up with in his usual patient and friendly manner, which is familiar to everyone he helps or chats with on the forum.
Our ffrinDiaith chats have often been incredibly valuable for me - Louis has got serious experience of management, software and academia, and has helped me develop my lines of thinking in lots of different directions.
He's also been one of our most important testers of the SSiBorg, with the early Dutch material that he put together (with the recording help of Eline) - as a cutting edge tester, he's often had to put up with me looking slightly embarrassed and telling him that I'd like him to start all over from the beginning again - but while this must often have made him feel like throttling me, the distance from Wales to Australia has been a helpful element. His input has been extremely valuable in developing the SSiBorg, and I'm excited that we're not all that far away from a new round of testing which will involve more SSiDutch lessons.
I've never particularly wanted to learn Dutch, but now I feel as though I have to...
Louis set up an extremely memorable meeting for me with Regina Coeli, the hugely impressive language school (mostly for footballers and politicians!) in the Netherlands - and invited us out to stay with his brother, and put us up in a lovely hotel in Amsterdam - which remains one of the children's favourite ever holidays (although I suspect that much of what Beuno claims to remember comes mostly from his sister's stories about it) - and looked after the monsters-I-mean-kids for an afternoon while Catrin and I lazed around Amsterdam, drinking coffee and discussing how odd it felt not to hear children screaming.
In fact, and in summary, Louis embodies a lot of the magic of SSiW for me - we put up some mp3 files on the internet, and now I have a Welsh-speaking spare brother from the Netherlands who lives in the outback(ish) of New South Wales. It's a surprising, breath-taking old world.
And we WILL make it out there to visit one of these days...
Ladies and gentlefolk, I invite you to remove your headwear, raise a glass of something alcoholic, and nod affectionately in the direction of Mr Van Ekert...
Seren yr Wythnos #1
Iestyn ap Dafydd
Seren yr Wythnos #2
Catrin Lliar Jones
Seren yr Wythnos #3
Seren yr Wythnos #4
Seren yr Wythnos #5
Seren yr Wythnos #6
Seren yr Wythnos #7
Seren yr Wythnos #8
Seren yr Wythnos #9
Seren yr Wythnos #10
Louis van Ekert