Margarita Jones de Green - Trevelin

Margarita Green has been at the centre of a number of the projects realised in 2015 - we asked her to tell us a little more about the year and some of her highlights.

As we reach the end of this special year, I have been looking back at the dreams that have become projects, the intentions of building unity, the disagreements, the achievements and the unresolved issues, the great joys and the moments of anxiety.

One of the objectives of the Cordillera Commission, of which I am a member, was to raise the visibility of our identity, reposition it within the community, attract attention to our projects and involve the descendants of Welsh settlers, as well as municipal and provincial governments, to increase the commitment to preserving the Welsh language and traditions for the benefit of all.

Another of our aims was to build a monument that would identify us today and continue to be relevant moving forwards. And what could be more fitting than a school? That was a unanimous decision. Ysgol y Cwm in Trevelin and Ysgol Gymraeg yr Andes in Esquel will be the buildings where we can offer a good quality education service that honours the dream of our grandparents, who were keen to preserve the language. Today their construction is nearing completion and Trevelin will start its 2016 academic year in the new school, with classrooms for pupils aged three, four and five, who will be taught bilingually in Welsh and Spanish.

Under the supervision of the architect Marcelo Andrés Roberts, this project has had the collaboration of Asociación Galesa 16 de Octubre from Trevelin, the provincial and municipal governments, and Asociación Ysgol y Cwm, which was recently created to run the school. The help that we have received from our friends in Wales has also been invaluable. They have regularly donated teaching resources to us, which are indispensable for the children. We are grateful to them and hope to be able to continue this relationship, which is strengthened by the fact that we communicate in our common language of Welsh.

I have taken part personally in nearly all the events that have been organised and, those that I was unable to attend in person I could follow online, through photos and comments, which allowed me to enjoy them nonetheless.

Before the 150 celebrations started I had the opportunity to take part, for a week, in the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. This was an appropriate start to the year: There have been many occasions when I have felt that the distance has not made us forget our essence, that our roots are so strong that we can continue to grow and reach out like trees with strong branches to support whoever wants to carry on the legacy. Our Celtic heritage is very much alive and has good prospects for the future, thanks to those who support our initiatives to strengthen cultural expressions.

Back in Trevelin, like every year, we commemorated the anniversary of the town of Esquel. This year's celebrations included a Cymanfa Ganu in Seion Chapel.

The 4th Patagonia Céltica Meeting brought together 170 artists from Argentina, Chile, Australia and Wales during a four-day celebration of music, dance, handicrafts, traditional cuisine, games and legends. The Meeting featured Gwenan Gibbard and Rhisiart Arwel from Wales. The hope is to keep strengthening this bond and establish an exchange of artists, as there are very good artists in Patagonia who are largely unknown due to a lack of support and opportunities.

The eisteddfods of Puerto Madryn, Gaiman, Dolavon, Trevelin and, finally, Chubut, attracted Welsh visitors, bringing the added happiness of meeting old friends and making new contacts. Of particular significance was the presence, for the first time, of three Archdruids - from Wales, Cornwall and Brittany - at the gorsedd ceremony at Chubut Eisteddfod.

Waking up early each morning to listen to Radio Cymru and hear them talking about us, about Patagonia, became a habit of mine and motivated me to get up much earlier than usual. It almost got to the point where I was better informed about the news in Wales than the local news, and the Welsh language and music rang in my ears, carrying me away and taking me closer to much-loved people and places. I even sent a few messages to the radio station so they would know that we were listening to them way over here.

This year, films, documentaries, concerts and shows and plays all served as vehicles for renowned artists, journalists and people from the world of politics to take an interest in Patagonia. Marc Rees, Huw Edwards, Elin Fflur, Catrin Ffinch, the National Orchestra of Wales and the Youth Choir, Rhisiart Arwel, Gwenan Gibbard, BBC Cymru Wales, Senators and representatives of the British Council and the First Minister of Wales Mr Carwyn Jones were just some of those who honoured us with their visit.

In Trevelin, we closed the year celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of Fontana and his riflemen at Cwm Hyfryd. There was a large Welsh presence on that day, too, including participants of the walk to raise money for Velindre Hospital. We regret not having had enough time to get to know each of them better, but we trust that they will not forget the experience of seeing our valley from the top of Craig Goch, and will return.

A big DIOLCH YN FAWR to everyone who helped us, a TAN Y FLWYDDYN NESA for all those who want to keep strengthening what we value and a CROESO to everyone who would like to join us so that what we have managed to nurture for 150 years is never lost. For ourselves, for our children and for our grandchildren. For the future.

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