EPISODE #18

The American who found a love for the Welsh language and culture

Geordan Burress
  • Welsh language
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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I didn’t have any sort of link to Wales until I discovered the Welsh language. I came across the language through listening to music by Welsh musician, Gruff Rhys. A short while after discovering his music, I decided that it would be cool if I could learn a few words or phrases in Welsh, just for fun.

I thought that the language sounded really interesting, and I was curious to learn. I’ve always been keen on learning languages anyway, having previously studied Spanish and Chinese.

I started small, learning words and phrases using courses and resources that I found on the internet but I soon became hooked on learning. The vast amount of information available was quite astounding which meant I was essentially able to learn Welsh for free. I took it steady and learned at my own pace, I never really had to sacrifice much of my time to progress with the language. The most challenging aspect has been remembering the correct grammar to use, but I’m getting better at that and with time I know I’ll nail it!

Learning Welsh has had an incredibly positive impact on my life, I’ve made many new friends and connections all over the world. I can’t even put into words how wonderful it has been to connect with other people in other countries who share this skill and affinity to this beautiful language. I love any excuse to use or share the Welsh language with others, especially because no one speaks Welsh where I live. I feel like I’m a part of a community now.

"Since learning, I have been lucky enough to visit Wales. Being able to use Welsh almost exclusively with everyone I met whilst I was there was pretty cool! I wasn’t sure if I would be fluent enough to use (almost) only Welsh, but I did it!"

 Another amazing experience was being able to share my story with others. Whilst I was visiting Wales I appeared on Welsh television and radio! I was pretty nervous to be interviewed, but being well received really boosted my self-confidence and it’s an experience I will never forget.

Since starting to learn Welsh, I have developed a real fascination with Welsh culture and I think that the annual Eisteddfod is one of the most interesting aspects of Welsh culture, and I’d love to be able to attend one, one day. Perhaps that will be my next trip!

My ambition is to be completely fluent someday, and I think I will get there in time. Maybe someday I will even be able to teach other people Welsh! That would be fantastic. For now, I want to continue to spread the use of Welsh in America and continue to make Welsh speaking friends around the world."

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