We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from America and Canada – help with the website, help with campaigns, help with lobbying, it really is amazing how much difference can be made these days by people who don’t live in Wales…:-)
Here are the stories of some of the wonderful people who have helped us most – we hope you find them inspiring.
After 9/11, our local news mentioned that many people from other countries had died in the tragedies. I noticed that in most subsequent news coverage, little mention was made of the international impact. I turned to the Internet to look for more information from sources outside of the U.S. and, being an English speaker, found the BBC site to work well as an alternative news source. I was amazed at the difference, the greater breadth and depth of an international news source, and really appreciated hearing the perspectives from other cultures about this and other topics.
While on the BBC news site, I connected with a news clip supplemented with audio in Welsh and was captivated by the beauty of the language. I began utilizing the online resources and connected with a Welsh learners group on the Internet, then to Carwyn Edwardsâ€™ Arizona Welsh site, from which I followed a link to Cymuned.
Cymunedâ€™s focus really resonated with me because it mirrors concerns that I have in my own community. I shared a couple of thoughts through email to the newsletter and very much appreciated the invitational and accepting tone, and the respect with which ideas were considered. One thought which is still very meaningful to me was written by Jeremy Rifkin, who observed that if people viewed their culture as a gift to be shared rather than a possession to defend, a more positive global community would result. Iâ€™ve approached the discussion board more as a listener and learner. Because I donâ€™t know the details of the Welsh culture or their daily and regional concerns, it seems presumptuous to interject very much. But the willingness of the Cymuned membership to share Welsh culture, even with an unknown from another country, has felt very generous and to embody what Rifkin suggested.
Theresaâ€™s idea of the DVD appealed to me because it was an opportunity to learn more about the issues and concerns of life today in Wales through a more complete understanding of the history of Wales. It offers an authentic opportunity for dialogue, for learning, for community, and for a positive, constructive experience.
Itâ€™s hard for me to put into words why I fell in love with Wales, and why of all the worthwhile groups in Wales Iâ€™d choose to be a part of Cymuned.
To begin with, Iâ€™m not Welsh. My grandparents emigrated from England and Scotland. Iâ€™m Canadian, and I currently live in the U.S. On a trip last year to visit those places in the UK that had personal meaning to my family, I felt more at home there than anywhere Iâ€™ve ever been. Despite its rich history, the area was not weighed down by the past, but seemed open and ready for change. It was a true delight to find different products in every market, each distinctive. Local produce was plentiful. The shops intrigued me. The BBC broadcasted in English, Welsh, or Gaelic, depending on where we turned the dial, and I fell in love with the Celtic languages, and most of all with Welsh.
It was the attempt to find some Welsh language clips on YouTube which first led me to Cymuned. It turns out that if you type â€œWelsh Languageâ€ into the search bar youâ€™ll find a clip of Aran Jones being interviewed in Bangor about the Welsh language ban attempted by the Thomas Cook travel agency. The link to Cymuned tied it all together for me. The desire to preserve and promote the Welsh language, the promotion of local shops and local housing â€“ all of that resonated with me. I wrote to Cymuned of a similar problem we were having locally with our own big box stores, and the damage to the local economy and environment, and was warmly welcomed. They truly have promoted a sense of community.
As a Canadian, I feel a kindred spirit in the Welsh. Weâ€™re familiar with living near a more populous, more well-known neighbour. We know first-hand the contentiousness of bilingualism. We know the frustration of having well-intentioned foreigners mistake our identity and our national leaders ignore it, and weâ€™ve suffered through 10th-grade history classes where it sometimes seemed easier to define what weâ€™re not (weâ€™re not American) than what we really area. For Wales to deal with all of these challenges without the benefit of national sovereignty is amazing.
Today, Wales faces strong challenges to its identity. Cymuned works to preserve and promote a distinctively Welsh way of life, which will move into the future without losing what has meant so much in the past. Whether weâ€™re actually kin to the Welsh of today, or whether we simply feel as if we are, there is a place for our participation. It can all start as simply as signing up for an email.
If we look at the world we live in today, the only truth we have is that we cannot stop things from changing. Everything around is changing. If we do nothing, it will change. The question is not â€œCan we change the world?â€ The question is rather,â€œIn a world that is changing every single day, how far can we push it in the direction of changing for the good and not changing for the worse?â€
Aran Jones, CEO, Cymuned
I fell passionately in love with Wales on my first visit in 2003 and became enraptured with the people, language and scenery. As I expressed interest in learning about Welsh history from a Welsh point of view, native Welsh-speakers Glenys and Fergus Davies gave me a copy of Gwynfor Evansâ€™ Land of My Fathers. I devoured this text and began digging into every aspect of the Welsh story, seeking to step outside my North American mindset. I sensed the critical importance of going beyond the usual assumptions into an understanding of the heart.
A happy accident connected me with Cymuned and doors opened for me to begin promoting their work through Ninnau and Carwyn Edwardsâ€™ newsletter. As I corresponded in various ways with North Americans of Welsh descent, it became clear that something crucial was missing. Many people in Welsh societies are well-versed in culture and vigorously pursue language lessons, but donâ€™t seem to connect the past with the present. And this was the factor that prompted me to produce a DVD with a very simple historical overview that draws together the past and present, then directs our attention to the future.
Interacting with Cymuned members and later meeting several of them face-to-face convinced me of the organizationâ€™s integrity. Cymunedâ€™s emphasis upon community and culture, civil rights, and their strategy of forging relationships with local and national leaders impressed me tremendously. The increased media coverage upon housing for locals and Welsh in the workplace proves the fruitfulness of Cymunedâ€™s work.
This is an exciting time for Wales, and I feel very honored to play a part in shaping the countryâ€™s future. Itâ€™s easy to participate by signing up for Cymunedâ€™s email that keeps members apprised of major developments.
North American Welsh Associations hold such tremendous potential to actively support the people of Wales. Cymuned membership is simple, practical, and effective. Their slogan is the famous saying of St. David: Gwnewch y pethau bychan. Are you willing to â€œdo the little thingsâ€ and be part of the larger Welsh community? Itâ€™s a community of the heart, and the heart is in the people.
If you’d like to help Kate, Cindy and Theresa carry on making a real difference to the work we’re trying to do, to help build a better future for communities in Wales, and for the Welsh language, the first step is a very simple one.
Just fill in this form to start getting our monthly email, so that you hear about what’s going on. Then, as soon as you feel like getting involved, just send us an email…:-)
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