I was born in Derby, and now live in Penarth. Living within a square mile of our house I have friends originally from Spain, Holland, Denmark, Hungary, England, and New Zealand to name but a few. Every single one of them enriches my life and that of Wales. I do not take kindly to the fact that these friends are being made to feel unwelcome in OUR country, and I want them all to know I will defend their right to make Wales their home. We are a welcoming Nation, outward looking and internationalist. Those who seek to taint us all with their racist xenophobic propaganda have underestimated us. They have failed to understand what makes our Nation special.
We are all Wales.
My experience of moving to Wales has been nothing but positive. I have been made to feel welcome and valued every step of the way. I have found Wales to be rich in culture, diversity and civic pride and my experience of learning the Welsh language has brought me joy and taught me to roll my rrrrrs (also useful in many other European languages). I have made many new friends.
On the first Thursday of every month I meet with a group of friends from Penarth and Barry who are also learning Welsh. Their commitment is inspiring. Of the eight of us, we are six of us English, one from New Zealand and one Welshman. The Welsh language is for everyone. It is a gift to be treasured and shared. You don’t have to be Welsh to learn. You don’t have to live in Wales to have a go (my mum is learning, she lives in Derby) or even have ever visited Wales (check out the totally inspiring Geordan @grdnlyb who lives in Ohio, has learned Welsh and dreams of visiting – she’s being filmed for S4C in a couple of weeks).
You aren’t any more Welsh if you speak the language, or any less Welsh if you don’t.
We are all Wales.
I was so proud of Leanne Wood’s performance on Question Time yesterday, for sticking up for what we believe in. This pitiful excuse for a programme has become nothing short of a parody of itself and I can only assume that David Dimbleby is seeking to highlight and expose the outrageous bias of the BBC. Surely no one could perform the role of Chair THAT ineffectively and show such flagrant bias, for real..? (Because you know, it’s really OK when one of your panelists slanders another, to just move straight on without calling them on it. That’s completely normal).
So I’m with Leanne when she supports and welcomes those who have moved to Wales and are part of our communities. I’m with her when she denounces xenophic rhetoric, when she extends a hand of welcome to Syrian children orphaned and alone in Calais, and when she demands better economic outcomes for everyone who lives in Wales. Ours is a compassionate Nation, and we extend the hand of friendship to all those who would be Welsh.
This hashtag has cheered me up in an otherwise very depressing week in politics. Thank you, wonderful fellow Welsh people. Wherever you are tonight (for some of you are far from home) and wherever you come from. We are all Wales.