Cwrs Cymraeg Y Mileniwm, 2000
As most of you know, Cymdeithas Madog celebrated the millenium by holding its annual Welsh language course in Wales this past August. Participants all "went home" to Trinity College (Coleg y Drindod), Carmarthen for the annual week-long Welsh submersion course. This marks the first time that the course has been held outside of North America and students were privileged to experience Welsh as a living language in the town and marketplace.p>
Sponsored by the National Welsh American Foundation and the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association, the course has become a staple of the North Americans' study of the "language of heaven". This year's local course organizer, Cefin Campbell, who has been teaching Welsh to adult learners for almost 20 years, resides in Carmarthen. In addition to returning with his delightful sense of humor, Cefin was a wealth of information about the area in and around Carmarthenshire. Six different levels of study of the Welsh language were available with three classes each day, and a variety of workshops were offered in the afternoons.
Students were encouraged to try more than one workshop or to spend the week on the same subject if they so choose. Marc Stonelake and Hefina Phillips both led gweithdai (workshops) on verbal practice in reading easy passages in Welsh. Mari Dalis presented a discussion on "making the most of the Eisteddfod" which was found very helpful to those students who had elected to stay over at the college dorm to enjoy a few extra days in Wales to experience the local flavor, shop, go sightseeing and spend one or more days at the Eisteddfod. Other workshops included the ever-popular folk singing, Papur y Cwrs (course newspaper), a workshop for the higher level students entirely in Welsh which addressed the literature of the Eisteddfod, Background to Welsh politics and language, Welsh websites and resources for Welsh learners.
Evenings were their own delight as each brought a different entertainment. Students were welcomed Sunday night with wine and cheese and were addressed by the Mayor of Carmarthen. Many thought that the highlight of the week was the Twmpath Dawns (an evening of Welsh Folk dancing) on Monday complete with the musical group Jac-y-Do who performedtirelessly for their appreciative audience.
Tuesday night saw students shuttled via minibus to downtown Carmarthen to encounter the real Wales in the Drovers Pub and share in a lively trivia quiz with Steve Morris as MC.
Wednesday afternoon all were treated to a bus trip to Tywi Valley including stops at the National Botanical Gardens, St. Teilo's Church in Llandeilo and Castell Carreg Cennen. The next night students traveled to Llandeilo to the White Hart Inn for a sing-a-long where Nia Clwyd, one of Wales best known folk singers, played the harp and sang.
Thursday night we were privileged to view a Welsh Language film, Solomon a Gaenor, featuring the popular Welsh Actor, Ioan Gruffudd, at Trinity's own Halliwell Theatre.
All students themselves were the entertainment at a Noson Lawen on Friday night. The varied talents of course participants was made evident as the group enjoyed skits, poetry, recitations and music. Cymdeithas Madog's Eisteddfod competition was won by Mary Williams Norton from Poynette, Wisconsin who was presented with the traditional hand carved chair to keep for a year. The Chair was made in Wales and is engraved with the names of previous winners. Steve Watkins won the first/second year event.
The following afternoon all traveled by bus to Cardiff and St. Fagan's Folk Museum for a delightful and informative day. The week was over all too soon as students gladly and sadly gathered at Halliwell Centre's Merlin Restaurant for their farewell banquet. Following the feast, the guest of the evening, Ron Davies, addressed the gathering. All teachers from Wales who had attended previous Cymdeithas Madog Courses where invited to attend the banquet and old friendships were once again joyfully renewed.
The last day of the cwrs, Sunday, the National Eisteddfod held this year in nearby Llaneilli, was the destination. Everyone enjoyed the many displays of Welsh and Celtic organizations, especially the Welsh Learners Pavillion, purchased memorabilia and Welsh literature and music, and visited the cultural events. Many students chose to talk a several kilometer walk along the coast or see the famous Welsh baritone, Bryn Terfel that evening.
We are looking forward to 2001, the site for the Cymdeithas Madog Course will be Emory University in Atlanta.