Goodnes, Aran and all, diolch yn fawr iawn! I am hugely flattered to be included in the "galaxy" of Ser yr Wythnos.
@dee has my story exactly right: Back in 2009, I had no intention of learning to speak Welsh, only of learning enough to pronounce place names correctly. I stumbled on this then-new site, and the forum, and well, here we are. I couldn't have imagined how much SSIW would change my life. It's given me so many great new friends -- @dee, @hewrop, @Kinetic, @robbruce among those I've spent the most time with, in body and in Skype, but many others whom I know only from cyberspace, like @louis (whom I can hardly believe I've never met). I've learned from every single one and benefited from every kindness.
Because of SSIW, I return to Wales as often as I can. Because of SSIW, I'm VP of my local Welsh Society here in Washington DC (which I hadn't even joined pre-SSIW) and run a monthly language meetup. Because of SSIW, I have chatted in Welsh in a sauna in Helsinki with @tygerc .
I don't spend as much time on the Forum as I used to, for sure. That's because, well, I'm no longer a Welsh learner. I'm a Welsh speaker. (Say it loud and proud!)
It's a funny thing about learning outside of Wales: I think it can be an advantage to have few obvious opportunities to practice, because any Welsh speakers or learners you find are likely to be desperate to speak with you. There was no group here when I started in 2009, but I found two other speakers (one native, one learner), we met over a beer, and we just went from there.
Community -- there it is again. For me, SSIW has and always will be about community and mutual support. Diolch yn fawr iawn iawn to ALL of you for making that community.
By the way . . . I too tend to think of myself as @tahl in the SSIW context. So when we meet, I promise to answer to either name!