We are very close to the end of 2017, and I feel it is time to reflect on all the achievements of this very exciting year.
How did it all start? On a cold January day, after an inspiring chat with a colleague from Trinity College, I decided to restart a previous project which I had abandoned in 2010, when I left Ireland to take up a post at the University of Reading. The project was called Bilingual Forum Ireland at the time, but I wanted this new project to have a brand new name and a new mission. I had learned a lot from the experience of setting up Bilingual Forum Ireland and later a branch of Bilingualism Matters at the University of Reading, and I wanted to find a name that would reflect this new idea.
During an evening of brainstorming with my friend Giovanni Giusti, a multi-talented Italian man who happens to live on my street, I decided on the name Mother Tongues. Within days, Claudia, Clarissa, Laura, Aga and Jennifer were in love with the idea and decided to come on board. But what was this idea? It took us many meetings, and many long afternoons of brainstorming to decide on a plan for 2017. Since then, we have run a series of short courses entitled “Raising bilingual children: a practical course for parents”, we have organised monthly meetings to provide families with a space where they can mingle, but also ask questions about bilingualism, and we have recently started to offer talks to schools and preschools.
Everything from the start has been “trial and error”, but everyone in the team had such enthusiasm, that I always felt that our passion and determination would take us places. The first rewards came when we got shortlisted for the Social Entrepreneur Awards in May, and Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in November (I was one of the five finalists in the Dublin City Best Idea Category!). Even though we didn’t win either competition, we all learned a great deal about social entrepreneurship, and we now have the knowledge we need to make 2018 an even better success! But success does not come without some luck…
I think that the best part of 2017 has been meeting a huge number of incredible people. Each person has shaped the work of Mother Tongues in a unique way. I must thank Aga, Claudia, Jennifer and Clarissa for their continued support, for their availability, for their insightful advice on pretty much everything, and especially for giving up their free time, often at the weekend. Monica deserves a special mention, for putting up with my lack of business planning, and for believing in Mother Tongues. Elena was the last person to join us in August, and she has since managed to catch up, meaning that in 4 months she has put into Mother Tongues more work than the rest of us collectively put into it in 12 months. Elena is the person behind our websites, blog, videos, logos, nice images, our FundIt campaign, our Festival, our flyers… and she keeps smiling! She is truly fantastic, and I don’t know what we would do without her.
Thanks to the work of all the people I mentioned, and the support of many more, we were able to reach out to over 200 families in our first year, and we hope that our talks, our courses and our family meetings have been beneficial to those who attended. Our latest good news concern our festival, which will take place in February 2018. We have just heard that our FundIt Campaign has been successful, and we have also received funding from the Arts Council. We have been putting a lot of effort into producing an exciting and diverse programme for the festival, and we are glad that our efforts have been rewarded, and thanks to the funding we will be able to make this event a real success.
I hope that our friends, our members, our supporters and all the multilingual families all over Ireland will continue to believe in our work. I look forward to a 2018 full of great surprises! Thank you all, Grazie,
go raibh maith agat