First Cymreig Anything Meetup - North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW)

Attended my first Cymreig anything in Virginia this past Saturday at the North American Festival of Wales.

First time for me to meet and speak to a Cymraeg speaker. First time to meet amazing SSiWers @aran @tahl @Sionned @atomic_newt and her Husband. Say “Bachan da”

First time for for me to do anything Cymreig outside of internet.

I could only attend one day of the four (Saturday), so it was a whirlwind day! Tahl introduced me to Aran and Sionned who welcomed me warmly. Aran was kind enough to allow me to hang around and pester him with questions and ideas about all things Cymreig like language, history, politics and culture. He was too tired, I think, to know I’d suck him dry of information. Perhaps he thought I’d accost him like Americans do in TV shows with guns blazing. HA! Atomic_Newt, also an American, speaks Cymraeg so well, when she transitions back to English, she has an accent, which slowly fades the further she gets from the language. Everyone I met was welcoming and open to speaking the language with me and very patient with my low quality Cymraeg. It was surprising to see a microcosm of people from all over North America come together with a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the language and culture!

Prior to February of this year, I only knew two things about Wales, geographic location and Dr Who is filmed in Caerdydd. My parents never spoke about to any ancestry, other than a mythical link to a Cherokee, Native American, Great-Grandmother. And that’s a funny story for another time. In February I found out genetically that I’m 69.5% Welsh. Thus began my quest to learn the language, leading me to SSiW and to the North America Festival of Wales. At the festival, I learned how potent, vibrant, rich and alive the Culture is, how traditions carry on in America, and how the Welsh impacted the United States. As I type these words and revel in the emotions of the day, tears of joy slowly seep from my eyes! Oh my God, is this a “Welsh thing?” I think I have hiraeth for a place I’ve never seen or visited. HA!

So many stories I want to share with this community, but I’ll handpick the best. Aran was relating a story how his Children have outgrown the Cyw TV program and are now watching American programs and how they pretend to be American teenagers with “Thick American Accents.” I paused mentally to think about what is a “Thick American Accent,” because I don’t know what it sounds like. I told this story to my 14 year old Daughter who said, and I quote, “What???” She paused like I did trying to imagine a thick American accent. “This is going to sound biased, but we don’t have accents. We speak plain.” HA! Then she found a video of Europeans imitating American accents. Most were speaking in a New York or New Jersey accent. Is this the thick American accent? The horrors you Welsh and Brits must think of Americans.

The Festival was my first chance to “sirad efo unrhywun yn Gymraeg.” I consider myself a Welsh speaker, albeit a newbie. From SSiW I knew I could carry on a limited conversation using different verb tenses on a variety of difference subjects. I was surprised how intimidated I was to speak my first words of Cymraeg despite my knowledge. Listening to fluent speakers, I thought, “I can speak the language. Just not like that.” And in that moment, the words I learned, memorized and repeated hundreds of times, triumphantly marched away from the speaking center of my brain to hide amongst the neurons containing the ideas of things forgotten. Thankfully English had not evaporated, but Aran in a grand teaching moment said to me, “Dwi isho clywed I ti siarad yn y Gymraeg.” That one sentence, that short, little string of nine words restored my confidence and encouraged me to search among the forgotten relics of memory and shove the found geiriau Cymraeg back into my speech center. Some words and tenses managed to sneak away, but at least I was finally speaking in Cymraeg to many people. It was fantastic and I didn’t want to stop even though I exhausted the words in my memory. Sadly, I had to leave but I noticed something interesting when conversing with my Wife on the way home. Cymraeg popped into my brain before English…just for a moment, though. I was overjoyed to realize that…Cymraeg is important to me…the language matters to me…that Cymraeg should thrive not only in Wales but globally…that Cymraeg will not disappear as so many other languages will…if for no other reason than I can say to a pesky telemarketer, “Mae ddrwg gen I, ond dydw i ddim yn siarad Saesneg. Dw i’n siarad Cymraeg. Fedra I dy helpu di?” And by the off-chance the telemarketer responds in Cymraeg, I will probably buy regardless of what is sold. HA!


Croeso i’r forum. Welcome to the forum. A Llongyfarchiadau am siarad llawer o gymraeg! And congratulations for speaking a lot of Welsh! We over here are really looking forward to hearing all about Aran’s experiences meeting with you - the American branch of our SSiW family. Diolch for sharing with us and we look forward to hearing from you from now on. x


Diolch, Andreaeynon am I cynnes croeso! Aran will have a lot of stories to tell. Poor man, I don’t think anyone allowed him to sleep! HA! It might be a bit before he recovers.

There’s definitely a good size American branch of people who want to learn Cymraeg. Next time NAFOW comes to my area, Philadelphia, PA in 2020, there needs to be a SSiW table and I’ll help to create it and run it. Mae hyn yn mwy bwysig ac dw i isho I helpu. <- Dyna fy Gymraeg druan I, eto.


Hey, it seems you had a great time! :slight_smile:

And you also sound quite ready to write a Manifesto for the new millennium: “Welsh speakers of the world, unite!” :smiley:

p.s. Even though kids might be imitating Jersey Shore (just guessing) “Thick American accent” can be from anywhere in the US - and I would say Texas #1!


Texans can have a strong drawl for sure. There’s Arkansans, too.. He’d be considered a “Good ol’ boy.”

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I assume you live in Delaware (from your name), I am in CT and am learning Welsh too. I’m doing the 2 year course and am on session 13, level 1. I was so happy to meet with Aran this weekend at NAFOW too.

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there was a SSiW table in the marketplace… I think… I was almost too busy to be in there!

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Perhaps there was, I did not see it, although I was only there for 30 minutes on Saturday morning could have easily missed it. Either way, I want to help out next time NAFOW comes to Philly in 2020.

[quote=“SusanDavies, post:6, topic:13735”]
I assume you live in Delaware (from your name)[/quote]Great guess, I live in southern Delaware. Which course did you choose, Southern or Northern? I initially chose southern because I live in southern Delaware. But I’ve recently switched to Northern dialect.

What do you think of the 2 year course?

What was the festival like for you? My experience was very energizing for me and impacted me in ways I was not expecting, like a door to a library being opened for the first time - just awestruck. I suspect most people did not have that type of reaction.



I can’t write as much as I’d like tonight, just got off with a friend/member of our Welsh Society who is in difficulties and I have to figure out how to help her. She’s such a lovely lady.
I always say that I’ve never felt more Welsh than at NAFOW and I was born in Wales!
It’s an amazing weekend, I love it! I’ve attended maybe 4-5 now.
We always go when we can drive or it’s a shirt flight as many of us can’t afford it. They save up fur 2 years to attend it! Philadelphia will be a place where several of us will attend.


Re the 2 year course - its been the best thing I’ve done for ages.


What a really lovely experience you have had. Simply wonderful. Amazing that you have such a lot of Welsh DNA. Sadly, I would be surprised if I have 1% :slightly_frowning_face:
Thank you for sharing your exciting story.


It was wonderful to have you there, and your Welsh is ardderchog (excellent)! Such a buzz to see people coming together and sharing Welsh and just general niceness.

Indeed there was! I set it up and have organized it for a couple years, but it’s really been a community effort: It was started around NAFOW 2012 by lynnbjencks, then taken on by debw12 (who made the awesome painted banner on the front of the stand!), then shepherded by Mari . . . you get the idea!

This year I had no time to spend at the stand – nor did Aran, poor running-from-one-thing-to-the-next man – but I highly recommend just sitting there in other years and chatting with people who come by about learning Welsh (as well as, you know, SSIW). It’s fun.


Hey, you survived the weekend! I only experienced the whirlwind for a day. Unknown how you and Aran survived all days. Diolch am y geiriau ceredig. Dw i’n trio.

I’ll make sure I set aside days in 2020 to help out with the table. We have family in Philly, so my Wife and Daughter can do activities with them while I help out/attend to the festival.


Hi. I live near Annapolis, MD. Just started learning Welsh via SSIW in July. I’m on lesson 14 of first level. I wasn’t able to go to Alexandria for the NAFOW. So far i’ve Only spoken to myself yn Cymraeg!!


Hey, great, croeso, and I’m sorry you couldn’t make it to NAFOW…but maybe you can come to downtown DC sometime to join our monthlyWelsh conversation group? First Sat of the month, 10:30-noon, at Teaism Penn Quarter.

Keep an eye here on the forum for any announcements of changes, and follow Washington DC Welsh on Facebook!

We love having new folks, no matter how much Welsh they’ve learned so far!


That’s really coo! Lefel 1, her 14 (Level 1, Challenge 14). Ti’n gwybod digon geiriau I siarad gyda rhwyun! You know enough words to speak with someone! You really do!

I speak with the family dog…great listener but really bad at responding. For me, I’ve found it helpful to listen to spoken Welsh, pause, translate and repeat. I use songs, youtube, sound cloud from this forum as it forces my ears to work with my brain, instead of just translating SSiW into Cymraeg. Hearing the spoken word and translating into English is different than listening in English and translating into Cymraeg.


Thank you for this terrific insight into the emotion surrounding it all - it was fantastic to meet you, and your energy was inspirational - even if I was pretty much running on empty myself… :wink:

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Helo, Jennifer:

I’m trying to start a weekly meet up for Welsh speakers in the East coast time zone. If you’re interested, here’s the thread I’ve started with information.

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Just curious to know which test you used to find out that you were 69.5% Welsh. One of my friends did a DNA from Ancestry, I think, and it was rather vague and listed the UK as opposed to Wales specifically. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!