Wade writes –
“I began acquiring the Welsh language when I was about fifteen years old, having bought the then-current edition of Teach Yourself Welsh. My study of the language was enhanced and speeded up when I joined John Ward’s Welsh-language class in Sacramento when I was seventeen.
John’s class morphed rather quickly into a mostly-Welsh-language choir, first called Cantorion Bro Sacramento and later Cantorion Gwlad yr Aur, which stuck together twenty-plus years, rehearsing on a weekly basis, with an annual round of performances. This gave me a regular social outlet for using the language and adding to my vocabulary.
Cantorion Bro Sacramento competed in the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1987 in Porthmadog, where we were the only non-native-speaking choir in our division and placed third out of ten, much to our surprise.
I spent my third undergraduate year at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, as it was then known, on the Education Abroad Program from the University of California. By then I’d been studying Welsh formally for four years and found myself well-enough prepared to be taught university courses through the medium of Welsh and to enjoy living in a Welsh-speaking town where I was occasionally addressed by strangers on the street in Welsh and find myself capable of responding appropriately.
I wrote my master’s thesis in linguistics on a topic in Welsh-language phonetics/phonology. Having long ago finished my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics, I work in the computer speech-recognition and speech-synthesis industry. I live on a ranchette in San Joaquin County where I talk to the cats, the llamas, and the horses in Welsh.
These, such as they are, are my credentials for being President of the Welsh-American Society of Northern California.”