In the Irish language "everything is poetry and everything is banter."

Editor's note: This August, we're celebrating Gaeilge (the Irish language) and Irish music with a series highlighting those around the world speaking and learning Irish, and playing Irish music.

Today, we speak to Kristin Bodt, a self-employed background artist for animation who lives in California, 

What is your name?  

Kristin Bodt  - níl ainm Gaeilge agam, faraor (I don’t have a name in Irish, unfortunately).

Where are you from?  

Lancaster, California in the Mojave Desert about 100 km north of Los Angeles.

Tell us a little about yourself:  

I'm a self-employed background artist for animation.  I love world cultures, learning languages, dancing ballet, and sewing.

Read more: What to do if there are no Irish language lessons near me?

Do you speak a certain dialect of Irish?  

No; I speak whatever I'm able to learn from what I can find online.

Are you a native Irish speaker or a learner?  

A learner. 

What motivated you to learn Irish and why?  

I was fascinated by the idea of this culture that had survived so much and persisted against all odds.  Also due to the fact of never really being Romanized, it has such a unique viewpoint relative to many of its neighbors. I admired the culture's persistence and determination to continue existing on its own terms and hoped to draw on its wisdom and strength by learning the language.

What has been the greatest difficulty?  

Learning the idioms and turns of phrase that can't be explained through a system (like grammar) but are simply part of the Irish flavor.

What was the best resource you came across to help you learn?  

Twitter (particularly Motherfoclóir) and the Teanglann app for Android. Twitter helps me see how it's used in everyday conversation and Teanglann has been indispensable for learning grammar and phrases.

What would have made your learning experience better?  

More people to practice with.

Read more: How hearing “póg mo thóin” in the schoolyard led this Californian to learn Irish

Where do you practice your Irish now?  

On social media and occasionally with Catríona (múinteoir liom - the teacher I have) when I'm able to see her.

Tell us a little about the Irish language community in your area?  

There's no Irish community in the desert that I'm aware of, but the LA community is small but passionate.  There's a feeling of great acceptance no matter who you are, where you come from or what your skill level is.  It's a group of people with a niche passion who have found other people who happen to share that passion and they bond greatly over it.

What is your favorite Irish language word or phrase and why?  

"Ní saoirse go saoirse na mban" (No freedom until women’s freedom) because it's true all over the world.  Also "smugairle róin" (jellyfish) because someone saw a jellyfish and said "I'll tell you what that looks like, a chairde" and the whole country liked it enough to put it in the dictionary

What is your favorite thing about the language? 

 That everything is poetry and everything is banter.

What advice would you have for people who want to learn?  

Be patient, you're going to have to unlearn everything you thought you knew about English and grow a new "Irish brain." Don't be afraid to make mistakes, they're inevitable, just be proactive and keep pushing forward!

What was the greatest moment of your language learning career?  

When I earned my TEG A1 Béaltrial. [European Framework exams in Irish that are available to take in the US, if you’re interested - visit here!]

What Irish language events would you like to see happening in your area in the future?  

Hard to say!  Maybe more TEG tests made available in the future?

How do you feel about those who feel Irish shouldn’t be taught in schools?  

I'm sad that they were unable to enjoy it.  I understand that there's a lot of baggage associated with it and it's bound to create difficulties in seeing the language as beautiful when that happens.  

But I envy their native connection to a language that represents what I think is some of the best of human nature.  

Here in America, seeing what's happening in our country every day, I feel like just a little bit of native Irish culture would help to heal so many of our wounds. I feel like it could help heal their wounds too if they gave it a chance.

Are you learning Irish? Let us know where and why in the comments section, below. 

This August, we're celebrating Gaeilge (the Irish language) and Irish music with a series highlighting those around the world speaking and learning Irish, and playing Irish music.

Visit our dedicated music section here or our Irish language section here to read more.

You can follow throughout the month by using the hashtags #ICMusic, #ICGaeilge or by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

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