Chairman's November Newsletter
A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, yet it feels like it was September only yesterday, perhaps because it has been such a busy time here at the ESU.
The program year started on a high note with Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal's visit. During the ESU Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City on October 3, The Princess Royal bestowed the 2022 Princess Royal Awards to three extraordinary individuals: Dr. Loveday Conquest, Mrs. Natalie Pray and Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water. On behalf of the entire ESU, I congratulate them again for this recognition.
For those of you who are not familiar, in 2020 on the occasion of the ESU's Centennial, the British Cabinet Office, with the approval of The Princess Royal, established The Princess Royal Award, an international award to recognize "significant contributions to the English-Speaking Union in its wider global setting." Our 2022 Princess Royal Award recipients have been extraordinary champions of our organization and embody the true purpose of this high honor.
Her Royal Highness' visit was a proud moment for the English-Speaking Union. The Princess Royal was impressed by our welcome and praised highly our educational programs. Her visit increased the ESU's visibility and introduced us to a number of new members and supporters. The Gala's live broadcast was watched by members in the U.S. and around the world, from New Zealand, to Mauritius, Mongolia, Lithuania, Serbia, France, and the UK.
I encourage you to listen to The Princess Royal's address at the Gala. It's about eight minutes long and worth your while. You can also view the recording of the entire evening and browse the photo gallery of this memorable event.
HRH's visit was an incredible start to what is shaping up to be an incredible year.
Just a month after the Gala, this past weekend, about sixty of us gathered at the historic Mills House Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina for our 2022 Annual General Conference. And I know that all who were there will agree with me that this was the best ESU Annual Conference in recent memory.
We had three very busy days of work and fun.
On the work front, one of the main events was the plenary session on the morning of Saturday, November 12, during which our consultant Rev. Renee LiaBraaten presented her findings and recommendations on the ESU's future, drawing from her many interviews with ESU Members, leaders, supporters and beneficiaries of our programs.
A year ago, when I took the ESU's helm as Chairperson, I vowed to lead the organization forward by listening, by learning, and by embracing all the good ideas that come from the entire ESU community. But I felt that we needed to take stock of where we stood as an organization in order to chart a roadmap for the future, because the challenges we face as an organization are daunting.
That's where Renee came in. At her session, she presented a clear path forward with a set of specific, workable recommendations. They ranged from expanding collaboration within and outside the ESU, to strengthening both digital and direct communications, to building connections with those who can provide support and sponsorship, such as lifelong learners, program alumni, former members, and institutions such as corporations and private foundations.
Renee stressed that all these ideas came from her conversations with our community. The enthusiasm with which her presentation was received adds to my confidence in the course we've taken.
During the Annual General Meeting on Sunday, November 13, the ESU Board and leadership presented a series of reports on the ESU bylaws, budget and audit. A slate of excellent new Board Members was unanimously elected and two Board Members were re-elected for another two-year term.
With their detailed program reports, Executive Director Karen Karpowich, Education Program Directors Rona Weitz and Alice Uhl and Branch Services Manager Elizabeth Bigelow updated us on their plans for the ESU's programming, which include scholarship and educational programs as well as membership events.
I should also mention the series of excellent Breakout Sessions, organized by Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water, on how to recognize and reward our most active Members and how to participate in the English in Action Across America program, TLab and the ESU National Shakespeare Competition. These conversations allowed us to share our experiences, learn from each other's successes and challenges and plan future activities.
But let me tell you now about the fun we had in Charleston, S.C. It's no wonder Charleston has been named a "Best of the World" travel destination by National Geographic.
During the welcoming dinner on Friday evening, as we enjoyed the fabled Southern cuisine, we had the opportunity to recognize a number of individuals for their leadership within their Branches.
The inaugural 2022 Membership Recognition Awards grew out of a grassroots initiative to develop a culture of appreciation and recognition at the ESU. A formal
committee was formed to accept nominations and identify the 2022 honorees. I want to thank the Members of the Committee: Dr. Karen Blair-Brand; Paul Boghosian; Judith Francis; David Grissett; Barbara Hughes; Julie Jardine; William Kennedy, Charles Maddrey, William Maschmeier, Kate Nitzken, and Dr. Julia C. Van de Water, for their diligent work.
The Creativity of Programs Award went to Ginger Bryant, Shakespeare Competition Coordinator of the Central Florida Branch, for her contributions to the program. The Excellence in Leadership Award for extraordinary leadership and long-term service was bestowed on Kathryn Lerch, a leader of the Indianapolis Branch for over 20 years. And for The Lifetime Achievement Award, we selected two Awards to give; one to Donna Miller for her many years of unending service to the Central Florida Branch, and one to Sylvia Bruton and posthumously to O. Grant Bruton for their numerous contributions to the vibrancy of the ESU Kentucky Branch.
There was also a prize for the ESU Branch with the greatest number of delegates at the Conference. The $2,500 cash award went to ESU Seattle. The Branch may use the prize at its discretion for any activities, programs or scholarship.
The program ended with long-term ESU Member of the Seattle Branch former Board Member Bill Maschmeier taking the stage to remind the dinner attendees of the ESU's important contributions to society and the need to nurture and enhance, in perpetuity, the value of our educational and cultural exchange programs and activities. In a playful and charming way, Bill appealed to all of us to remember the ESU in our wills. "Being dead is no excuse," he noted, and urged us to think about the legacy we leave behind.
The exclusive Patron Reception and lecture at the Charleston Library Society was another conference highlight. This annual event recognizes the ESU Patrons, our most generous and loyal members.
Renowned architecture critic and author Susan Sully shared with us some elements of the unique style lexicon that make the Holy City so exquisite, from the late 17th century to the present, and offered a richly illustrated overview of some of Charleston's enduring architecture, craftsmanship and decorative elements. All guests received a signed copy of Susan's most recent book, The Allure of Charleston.
We came out of her presentation with fresh eyes for Charleston's picturesque streets, pastel-colored buildings and lush gardens, as well as a new sense of appreciation of the city's extraordinary architectural details, beautiful color palette and graceful dignity.
On Sunday, following the Annual General Meeting, we were treated to a captivating lecture by avid student of Lowcountry history and raconteuse extraordinaire Leigh Handal, who took us on a fascinating tour of the city's streets as they once were, revealing to us some lesser known aspects of Charleston's history.
We also spent time outside.
We walked Charleston's cobbled streets with historians Christina and Nic Butler and we heard the true stories on the Gullah language, culture and music during our Gullah Geechee tour led by Al Miller. He sang for us and spoke Gullah words to us, but beneath the humor, the stories were a sincere and accurate portrayal of the struggles, strength, and resilience of the Gullah people.
Capping the perfect weekend was the Sunset Harbor Cruise on board the Charleston Princess. Under crisp, clear skies, we breathed the salty air and marveled at the brilliant colors of a Charleston sunset.
And for those who had a day to spare, the optional tour on Monday, led by storyteller Leigh Handal, took them to the American College of Building Arts, the only institution of higher learning in the U.S. that teaches exceptional craftsmanship and encourages the preservation, enrichment and understanding of the world's architectural heritage. The College has been a long-standing partner and beneficiary of the ESU Charleston Branch's generosity. The next tour stop was Middleton Place Plantation, a rare survivor of the American Revolution, Civil War, economic upheavals, and natural disasters that offers a unique glimpse into the lives of the Middleton family and the enslaved African Americans who worked there.
And finally, I would like to thank Lawrence Hollingsworth and the ESU Charleston Branch for so graciously hosting us during the Annual Conference. Their guidance, advice and practical help ensured the success of the weekend.
There is one other announcement I would like to make. During the Annual General Meeting, we unveiled the dates of next year's Annual Conference. It will be hosted by the ESU Kansas City Branch, in Kansas City, Missouri, from October 20-22, 2023.
Known for its barbecue, jazz heritage and vibrant downtown, Kansas City boasts numerous cultural destinations, such as the National World War I Museum, the American Jazz Museum, and the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, with giant shuttlecocks out front, houses nearly 40,000 works of art, with collections ranging from Ancient to Contemporary times. It will be another weekend to remember. I look forward to seeing you there.
Dear friends, there is a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The pandemic is steadily receding, tamed by vaccinations, boosters and new treatments. We are resuming our normal routines and social lives. And we are all looking forward to an exciting events calendar at the English-Speaking Union.
In store for us are: a series of virtual Happy Hour lectures; the 40th National Shakespeare Competition, to be held in-person at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on April 22-25, 2023; a spring reunion for the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship Program alumni, friends and supporters in Washington, D.C.; and the Bard's Queen on Board transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary II and tour in and around London, taking place July 7-17, 2023 (for more information on the Bard's Queen on Board trip, please reach out to Rossana Ivanova at email@example.com). All of these events will offer wonderful opportunities for us to reconnect and re-engage in the ESU and look forward to the future.
"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." - Maya Angelou
Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless You!
With best regards,
Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union
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2022 ESU Gala
Monday, Oct 3, 2022 - The English-Speaking Union of the United States had the distinct honor of hosting Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at the organization's headquarters in New York City, followed by a beautiful gala at the Cosmopolitan Club on Monday, October 3rd, 2022. Princess Anne is President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth, and her visit to the English-Speaking Union of the United States marks the organization's centennial and celebrates the two sister organizations' century of commitment to strengthening bonds between nations and cultures through the power of the English language.
Photo by Joy Malone
Her Royal Highness' visit commenced at the ESU's headquarters in Manhattan, where she was greeted by staff and constituents brought together from across the globe. Princess Anne toured the ESU's building, lovingly referred to as the ESU House, and met with beneficiaries of its numerous public programs. Three students from ESU's Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center (ARNIC), Dieudonné Ndje Bayi Seh of Cameroon, Niurka Meléndez-Vázquez of Venezuela, and Maria Pyaterneva of Russia, engaged in a conversation with the Princess about the impact of ESU's programs on their newfound lives in New York City.
Photo by Joy Malone
Additionally, she spoke with school teachers, such as Valentin Dumitrascu of the Marvelwood School of Kent Connecticut, who are recent recipients of the ESU's TLab scholarship (Teachers Learning Abroad) - a summer program that sends teachers from around the country to study at the University of Oxford, the University of Edinburgh, and Shakespeare's Globe. She also met with the 2022 winner of the National Shakespeare Competition, Sasha Fedderly of Lycée Francais de New York High School, and was presented with a beautiful nosegay by our youngest program beneficiary, Middle School Debate student Cole Corper, 2021-2022 member of the ESU New York Debate League's Championship Team from the Dalton School.
Photo by Joy Malone
The evening's gala program at the Cosmopolitan Club celebrated voices from across the organization who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of the cause.The Princess Royal acknowledged the inaugural 2020 Princess Royal Award Honorees and bestowed the 2022 Princess Royal Awards upon Dr. Loveday Conquest, Mrs. Natalie Pray, and Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water, for their numerous contributions to the English-Speaking Union in its wider global setting. Additionally, the audience enjoyed a performance of Shakespeare by the 2020 National Shakespeare Competition People's Choice Award recipient, Max Mester, and a piano concert of Single Petal of A Rose from The Queen's Suite by Duke Ellington, performed by ESU Chairman Dr. E. Quinn Peeper.
Impressed by the numerous people who dedicate their time to the organization, Princess Anne noted in her address that "all of these things are done by people who have just taken a little extra time and interest to make somebody else's life work better." Indeed, the Princess Royal's visit to the English-Speaking Union of the United States was a marked celebration of the organization's century worth of commitment to fostering global understanding and goodwill.
Photo by Joy Malone
Founded in 1920, the English-Speaking Union of the United States is a national membership organization with more than 4,000 members organized in 65 Branches across the country. ESU members and volunteers are the pillars of our educational and cultural programs as they work in their local communities to carry the ESU mission forward.
For 100 years, the ESU educational and cultural programs have enriched the lives of American students, teachers, English language learners and ESU members. The English-Speaking Union employs English as a shared language to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural programs for students, educators, English language learners, new immigrants and members.
Download the official press release here.
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Chairman's October Newsletter
A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper
It was a day to remember!
On Monday, October 3, 2022, after two postponements due to the pandemic and many months of preparation and anticipation, the ESU hosted Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in our New York headquarters followed by a Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club of New York.
As many of you know, The Princess Royal is
President of our sister organization, the ESU of the Commonwealth, and an ardent supporter of our common purpose to strengthen bonds between nations and cultures through the power of the English language.
After touching down at John F. Kennedy International Airport mid- day on Monday, Her Royal Highness was whisked away by police escort to the ESU headquarters in mid-town Manhattan. She was greeted by our staff and met with beneficiaries of our educational programs. Presented to the Princess were new immigrants and English language learners, tutors and teachers, National Shakespeare Competition winners, TLab and Secondary School Exchange scholars, and Middle School Debate participants who shared with her how the ESU has enriched their lives.
And then, after only a very brief retreat to the UK Consulate, Her Royal Highness joined us for the Gala dinner at the Cosmopolitan Club to congratulate the recipients of the inaugural 2020 Princess Royal Awards and bestow the 2022 Awards to three honorees – Dr. Loveday Conquest, Mrs. Natalie Pray and Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water.
Despite having just arrived after a transatlantic flight, the Princess was engaging and warm, putting everyone at ease with her graciousness and wit. She charmed us all.
Dear friends, October 3rd was especially rewarding for me personally because, finally, my years-long aspiration and efforts to host Princess Anne at the ESU became reality. And the reality exceeded the dreams. It was a perfect day and a perfect evening, made all the more meaningful by having The Princess Royal bestow the Princess Royal Awards to three extraordinary ladies at a private Club for accomplished professional women.
In her remarks, the Princess commended the ESU's commitment to building bridges among people and expanding opportunities through the English language. Our programs for English language learners were of special interest to her as she was singularly impressed by the ESU volunteers who "have just taken a little extra time and interest to make somebody else's life work better."
I want to follow up on Her Royal Highness' praise and invite you to "make someone's life work better" by engaging in the English in Action across America program. The program is an expansion of the English-in-Action Conversations that for more than forty years have brought together English language learners and volunteer native speakers for weekly one-to-one conversation sessions. Until recently, English in Action connected volunteers and students in New York City only. But thanks to the introduction of technology during Covid, ESU was able to launch a pilot project that paired volunteers from other parts of the country with students from the New York area for weekly conversations via Zoom. The pilot was hugely successful. Here is what participants have to say:
"When I communicate with [my tutors], I feel like I regained my family... They give me safety and courage."
- Student from Burma (Myanmar)
"Volunteering through the ESU is a form of lifelong learning...I guarantee you'll have a sense of accomplishment..."
- Volunteer, ESU Denver Branch
I invite Branches to join the program. It is a terrific opportunity to engage – and grow – your membership.
I also invite individual members to raise their hands. As a volunteer, you'll give the gift of fluency and help an English language learner become familiar with our culture, traditions, and lifestyle. And in exchange, you'll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment at your student's progress and enjoy a glimpse into another culture and way of life.
The program takes place online over Zoom. You will receive training, resources, and support from ESU National Office to ensure you are successful in your role as a mentor. If you are interested and want to find out more about the program or sign up as a tutor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, I want to remind you that we are less than a month away from our first in–person Annual General Conference since the pandemic. It will take place from November 11 to 13 at the historic Mills House in Charleston, South Carolina.
I would like to thank our host, the ESU Charleston Branch, and its President, Mr. Lawrence Hollingsworth, for the invaluable insight into how to experience Charleston in a weekend. Bookended by a Gala dinner on Friday, November 11 and a Sunset Harbor Cruise and Reception on Sunday, November 13, the Conference will offer social gatherings to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, bespoke guided tours that will open a window into Charleston's timeless charms, and thoughtful discussions about the ESU's future success.
The ESU staff has prepared a handy guide into accommodations and transportation options in the area to help you plan your trip. The registration form also lists all the experiences included in the conference package as well as the traditional Patron reception on Saturday, November 12, and the optional extension tour on Monday, November 14, to the American College of Building Arts and Middleton Place Plantation, two of Charleston's most memorable landmarks.
And to encourage many of you to attend, the ESU National Office is announcing a special AGM Branch Prize for the Branch with the greatest number of conference registrants that comes with a $2,500 gift to be used in whatever manner the Branch deems fit. The winning Branch will be announced and feted at the Gala dinner on Friday, November 11.
Just think about the many ways your Branch could use these dollars to grow your membership or strengthen participation in the ESU's educational programs. Perhaps host a party to thank members for their loyalty and support, or a thought-provoking lecture to show prospective members what the ESU is all about. Or perhaps give a teacher in your community a TLab scholarship to Oxford or University of Edinburgh.
So when you sign up for this year's Annual Conference, the first in-person ESU-wide gathering in three years, you will not only reunite with fellow members from across the country and have fun in charming Charleston, but you will also help your Branch in the noble competition to deepen the fellowship and sense of community among us all.
Dear friends, I invite you to come. It will be a wonderful start to the holiday season as well as a great opportunity to enjoy Charleston's southern hospitality and support our Union.
Look forward to seeing many of you in Charleston.
With best regards,
Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union
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