Caitlin Tan Published

W.Va. And Welsh Students Swap Audio Diaries


For the past few months, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia Folkways Project has cultivated a connection between two groups of people thousands of miles away — high schools in Lincoln County, West Virginia and in Merthyr Tydfill, Wales.

Appalachia and Wales have a unique, historical connection through energy extraction, with many Welsh immigrating to the United States to find coal mining jobs beginning in the 19th century. Through this migration many stories, recipes, music and more were swapped, intertwining the cultures of both regions.

Often young people have a unique way of understanding culture and folkways, and sometimes they can help us understand ourselves a bit more. So, we had the students in Wales and West Virginia swap audio diaries. They shared everything from how the declining coal industry has affected their families, to their favorite foods. That included birthday cake, Doritos with salsa, West Virginia-based Tudor’s Biscuit World and “plain pizza.”

The Inside Appalachia team is planning a reporting trip to Wales later this year, although given travel restrictions due to the coronavirus it will likely be postponed. However, we are going to continue this collaboration remotely, much like everything else right now, with the hope to meet some of the students from Wales in the future.

This story is part of our Folklife Reporting Project, a partnership with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia and the Folklife Program of the West Virginia Humanities Council. 

This story is part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Southern Coalfields Reporting Project which is supported by a grant from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.