Cwrs Cymraeg Waukesha, 1992
The words of lead teacher Clive Rowlands say it all. 'Arbennig iawn' is how he described Cwrs Cymraeg Waukesha, which took place at Carroll College from July 25 to August 2, 1992.
It was indeed a 'very special' course, and not just because it provided an additional seventh day of teaching compared to previous courses. The facilities were excellent, the organization was smooth-running, the students (over 60 of them from all over North America) were enthusiastic, the quality of instruction was top-class, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly.
The course began on the Saturday, with an evening wine-and-cheese reception. Teaching began at 8:30 the following morning and continued with breaks for coffee and lunch through until 2:15. This was to be the pattern each day, with the remainder of most afternoons devoted to a dosbarth-ar-y-cyd (joint class) and a choice of language-related activities.
Accompanying Clive Rowlands were two other teachers from Wales, Alun Ifans and Ken Kane. Though both were new to Cwrs Cymraeg, they took to it like ducks to water and were instant hits. Whether it was Alun's manic enthusiasm (in leading the folk dancing) or Ken's idiosyncratic sense of humour (when he lectured on Welsh place names), they ensured that there was never a dull moment.
The faculty included one other newcomer, Mair Wyn Jones from Ontario, who had earlier taught on the Oakville short course in March, and whose piano skills proved invaluable throughout the week. The other teachers were veterans Paul Birt, Alun Hughes, and Hefina Phillips.
Between them, the teachers provided instruction for all levels of learner, with emphasis on the spoken language. There was also a special class in advanced language skills -- reading, writing, listening, comprehension and grammar, as well as speaking -- for the intermediate and higher levels taught by Alun Hughes.
The joint classes at mid-afternoon featured presentations by teachers and students on various aspects of Welsh language and culture, and the activitiy sessions that followed, each led by a different teacher, provided a choice between such diverse topics as Welsh music, basic grammar, the evoluation of the Welsh langauge, reading and preparing the course newspaper Wn i Ddim.
There was also a course choir, which practised diligently in the late afternoon under the capable direction of Geraint Wilkes, a member of the local organizing committee and a renowned tenor in his own right.
No Cwrs Cymraeg is complete without its extra-curricular activities, and Cwrs Cymraeg Waukesha was exceptional in this respect. Events kicked off on Sunday afternoon with a fascinating bus tour of historical Welsh sites in Waukesha County, including the village of Wales itself.
The remaining activities all took place in the evenings, and included Welsh-language videos, a boat trip on Lake Michigan, a twmpath dawns (folk dance), a treasure hunt, and a pub night in the Budweiser Pavilion at the State Fair Grounds, with refreshments courtesy of Anheuser-Busch. Pub night entertainment was provided by Geraint Wilkes, the Glen Ghillies music group, the Awel y Ddraig dance group directed by Beth Herbert, and -- a special treat -- an 'alternative' dance group made up of the male teachers.
The climax of the course, as always, was the noson lawen on Saturday night, culminating in the presentation of the chair to the winning bard. This year's winner, and a very popular one, was Cheryl Mitchell from Washington. Winners of the competitions for intermediate and beginning students were Anne Smith and John Ellis respectively. The course closed on the Sunday morning with a worship servcie led by David Davis. The course is also the time when the board of Cymdeithas Madog holds its annual deliberations. At the Waukesha meetings, Hefina Phillips was elected President, Paul Birt Vice-President, Hugh Davis Treasurer, and John Otley Secretary. Bill Clarke and Evan Parker retired as directors, both after many years of service, and Marjorie Griffith and Loretta Close were elected to replace them.
That Cwrs Cymraeg Waukesha was such a success was due in no small part to JoAnne Simon and her team of local organizers, Russ Evans, Margaret Glasgwyn, Beth Simon and Geraint Wilkes. Thanks are due to these, and also to the British Council and the National Welsh-American Foundation for financial support.