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Super Friendly American uses Welsh to build confidence

The Super Furry Animals can add another success to their chart-topping adventures: inspiring an American woman to increase her confidence.

After hearing music by Gruff Rhys and his band, Geordan Burress from Ohio, decided to learn Welsh in order to understand the music.

Geordan exclusively told The Rooftop:

The language sounded cool to me, and I enjoy learning languages anyway, so I decided that I wanted to try to learn just a few words or phrases in Welsh. Thanks to the online resources available, I was able to learn much more than that!

Learning a new language has expanded my horizons in so many ways. Since learning Welsh, I’ve connected with so many people that have become friends over months or years, because I’ve bonded with them over being Welsh learners or Welsh speakers, or just being interested in the same kind of music.

Recently I went on the adventure of a lifetime when I was finally able to travel to Wales and meet many of the people that I had been in contact with for years through the internet.

On a more personal note, getting better at speaking Welsh over time has helped to raise my confidence quite a bit, as has making new friends.

However, despite the positives, Geordan found her story splashed on the pages of The Sun newspaper in the UK.

The paper claimed that she “found she had no-one to speak to” in an article which made fun of her achievements. Geordan explained:

The Sun portrayed my story in what I felt was a misleading and negative way by suggesting that learning Welsh was not worth the effort, and that “barely anyone” speaks the language.

I felt more frustrated than anything. The article disrespected the Welsh language and Welsh people, and I also didn’t appreciate the implication that I had wasted my time learning Welsh, because nothing could’ve been further from the truth.

But rather than sitting back, Geordan took to Twitter:

When I wrote my response to The Sun on Twitter, I had an overwhelming response.

I feel touched by all of the support I received.

I’ve received a lot of messages from people that have said that I am welcome to chat with them anytime, other messages saying that I’ve inspired them to start or continue to learn Welsh, and plenty of messages of encouragement to keep going. People have even thanked me for learning Welsh.

It’s very inspiring to me.

Geordan learned Welsh using freely available resources. Including “Say Something In Welsh” and the BBC.

Image of Super Furry Animals via Flickr / Creative Commons.

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.

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