Announcing a #ShwmaeSumae champion from the other side of the world (well, Llandwrog as of late…)!
As Shwmae Sumae Day is five years old this year, there will be five champions representing the campaign in 2017, working the length and breadth of Wales helping us to promote the purpose of the national day held on the 15th of October each year. The idea is to encourage and help Wales’ citizens (be they fluent, learners or only having a few words) to start each conversation in Welsh, as a means of normalising the language and it’s natural use within our communities.
Our fifth and final champion to be announced for Shwmae Su’mae Day 2017 is Grant Peisley, originally from Sydney in Australia and now living with his young family in Llandwrog by Caernarfon, Gwynedd. Grant works with community enterprises across north Wales and beyond, helping communities create sustainable, fair and local economies. He first visited Wales in 1998 and heard more about the native language of the country in St Ffagans National Museum. The language made Wales more interesting and unique for a tourist from the other side of the world. But Grant was really inspired to think more deeply about how languages and emotions are interlinked, after meeting his Welsh speaking partner the following year in Brisbane. They soon moved to live in Wales, where they raised their sons (Nedw and Caio). Grant says;
“When we moved to Wales in December 2001 I began learning Cymraeg and by the time the first of our boys was born in 2005 I was determined that Welsh would be the language of the house, my kids first language; not just their mother tongue but their father tongue too! I wanted to ensure my kids were grounded in their communities, their history and culture. I want them to have strong roots and a strong sense of belonging. It’s the language that will give them that in Wales. I completed the super Wlpan and super Pellach cwrs with Bangor’s School of Lifelong learning. I did a few week-long courses over the years, had a week in Nant Gwrtheyrn and tried evening classes. That gave me a foundation, but where I really learnt to speak Welsh was with my friends in the pubs of Caernarfon!”
“Aussies believe in mate-ship and fairness and it wasn’t fair for five or more Welsh speakers to be sitting together speaking English because of the one Aussie sitting with them. So, I insisted they spoke Welsh around me and it was up to me to ask if I didn’t understand. A couple of pints always helped the confidence and with time I was able to engage in conversation a lot more fluently. People will not learn Welsh as long as Welsh speakers are too kind to them and switch to English all the time.”
Explaining why he finds Shwmae Sumae Day important, Grant says;
“As Welsh speakers, or those with an interest in the history and culture of Wales, or as learners, we should be using, practicing and hearing as much of the language as possible by starting each conversation in Welsh with a simple ‘Su’mae’ or ‘Shwmae’. It doesn’t matter if you can’t say more than that. Just that one word will show you’re a part of Wales, and show you understand the power of language in building pride, fairness, and respect. It’s easy to say, sounds great with different accents and can be a real icebreaker. Shwmae Sumae Day gives you an opportunity to start every chat in Welsh. It gives tourists the unique and interesting experience they travel for and therefore can boost our economy. Give it a go! And remember ‘Sumae’ is not just for a day!!”
Diolch o galon for learning our language Grant, and for being a part of the campaign this year! Grant will be sharing the language with the communities and energy groups with whom he works, in shops and pubs and the sports teams that make up his community. You might even find him shouting ‘Su’mae’ from the rooftops (or Caernarfon castle at the very least!). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and assistance about how to organise your own Shwmae Sumae event, and see also our website www.shwmae.cymru for resources that can help…!