Pinning the Daffodil and Singing Proudly: An American's Search for Modern Meaning in Ancestral Ties
English honors thesis
This paper is a collection of my personal experiences with the Welsh culture, both as a celebration of heritage in America and as a way of life in Wales. Using my family’s ancestral link to Wales as a narrative base, I trace the connections between Wales and America over the past century and look closely at how those ties have changed over time. The piece focuses on five location-based experiences—two in America and three in Wales—that each changed the way I interpret Welsh culture as a fifth-generation Welsh-American. Each travel experience contains characters, places, and interactions that shape my conception of Welsh heritage—from visiting Cardiff on St. David’s Day, to staying with distant relatives on a farm in North Wales, to rallying people to learn the Welsh language at the 2012 North American Festival of Wales in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I explore treasured Welsh traditions such as the eisteddfod (music, arts, and literary competition) and the gymanfa ganu (festival of song), while also examining iconic symbols of Wales like the daffodil and the Welsh flag. While my ancestors and living relatives become the main characters of the piece, I also interweave biographical information on prominent Welsh figures, from the esteemed Swansea-born poet Dylan Thomas to the lead singer of the Super Furry Animals, a late 90s rock band. The paper seeks to determine the role of family ancestry in the present day and looks at how cultural identity is changing in an increasingly globalized world.