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Cwrs Cymru Deg, 2010

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This past summer, Cymdeithas Madog held its 34th annual Welsh language course in Cardiff, Wales on the tenth anniversary of our last Cwrs Cymraeg in Wales. Cwrs Cymru Deg, which translates as both "Wales Course Ten" and "Beautiful Wales Course", drew a small but spirited 49 participants to Birchwood University Hall campus to study Welsh language and partake in Welsh culture.

We were pleased to see the highly respected Hefina Phillips return as lead tutor, in addition to some Cwrs favourites: Chris Reynolds, Annette Evans, Aled Llion Jones, Deian Evans, and one new tutor from Wales, Angharad Devonald. Our level five students this year had the honour of joining the Cardiff Wlpan course held at the Welsh Adult Learning Centre, Cardiff University. As always, the tutors provided a high level of teaching coupled with Hefina's tremendous amount of energy, effort and great humour which made for a tremendous week of learning.

We had some wonderful guest speakers during the week, including Geraint Nash, senior curator of Sain Ffagan, National History Museum of Wales; the Right Honourable Dafydd Wigley, MP for Caernarfon; Efa Gruffudd, the chief executive of the Urdd; and Dafydd Iwan, musician and director of the record label Sain.

The evening activities were equally impressive and gave our students the opportunity to socialize, practice their Welsh outside of class and immerse in Welsh culture. Monday evening, we held our usual twmpath dawns but this year were treated to a live Welsh band called 'Pluck and Squeeze' led by the charismatic caller, Alun. Tuesday evening, we met in the Welsh language pub Y Mochyn Du for quiz night. One of our regular tutors, Geraint Wilson-Price, directed the evening, keeping us on our toes as well as full of laughter.

On Wednesday afternoon, we were taken on a tour around Cardiff, which included a visit to the Bay area, a tour of the Welsh Assembly, a visit to the Millennium Centre, and a trip to Penarth. Thanks to the help of Maggie Dower and Nance and Mike Smith of the Edmonton St. David's Society, we were treated to a special visit with the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Keith Hyde, and his wife Ann. The Mayor gave each of our students a wonderful gift, a book called "Caerdydd: Aileni Prifddinas". We ended the evening with a meal at the Mimosa restaurant, owned by Ioan Gruffydd.

Thursday evening we were treated to a great surprise when one of our tutors, Chris Reynolds, invited his musician friends from Swansea for a spirited session of traditional Welsh folk music. The great music continued Friday evening as Dafydd Iwan brought his guitar to the campus pub and gave a special intimate concert just for our participants. He was a good sport and stayed afterwards to take pictures with everyone and sign CDs.

On both Saturday and Sunday, we were able to make the journey to Welsh National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale. It was a wonderful opportunity for our participants to practice their Welsh as well as take part in the largest cultural event in Wales. Cymdeithas Madog held its own annual Eisteddfod, where course participants are invited to compete and demonstrate the Welsh they've learned throughout the week. The best entry in the top-level category this year was awarded to a young student named Rob Davis. It was very heartening to see someone that young with such a strong interest in the Welsh language. Llongyfarchiadau Rob!

A fitting end to the week was the final banquet, where we were joined by many past and present tutors including Basil Davies, Mark Stonelake and Maldwyn Pate. Amongst them was also next year's lead tutor, whom I'm happy to announce is Geraint Wilson-Price. During the banquet, special thanks were given to Shirley McKee and Hefina Philips as this was their final year serving on the Board. Both have put in years of service, dedication and hard work. We are all eternally grateful. Diolch o galon!

It was great to see everyone once again during the Cwrs and, naturally, it was sad to see them all leave at the end of the week. Fortunately, we will have a chance to reunite next summer during Cwrs Cymraeg 2011, which will be held at Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia, July 17-24. Hope to see you all there!