May it bring you health, joy and countless wonderful experiences! And I hope that many of them will be alongside your fellow ESU members.
But first, I am delighted to announce the addition of four new members to our National Board of Directors: esteemed microbiologist and ESU Luard Morse Scholar (1978-79) Dr. Gregory W. Buck; board-certified psychiatrist and Medical Director at the Veterans Administration Medical Center Washington DC Dr. Mary R. Lee; PwC Cloud and Digital Strategy Partner Ms. Michelle C. Seale; and EVP, General Counsel and Head of Business Affairs at Hallmark Media Mr. Jon Sichel, who were elected to the Board at the Annual General Meeting in Charleston S.C. They are starting their service with the first Directors' meeting on January 26.
I am excited about them being part of the ESU National Board and I thank them for agreeing to serve to further the ESU's mission. They join a long legacy of excellence in the ESU's leadership and each brings unique skills, experience and perspectives to help our organization thrive. Join me in wishing them a successful and rewarding service!
In 2023 we will celebrate a big milestone – the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th birthday. In this letter I would like to tell you about how we plan to mark this major occasion and invite you to join us in the festivities.
This year, for the first time since the pandemic, the ESU National Shakespeare Competition returns to New York with in-person national finals on Monday, April 24, 2023, at Lincoln Center. It will bring all semi-finalists together for an exciting weekend from Saturday, April 22, to Tuesday, April 25, encompassing the Bard's birthday.
Parents, teachers, Branch coordinators and leadership, as well as regular members, are invited to join the students in many of the activities and programs during this Competition weekend such as meals, a Broadway show, New York City tour, etc. We are offering a special Parents Package that includes complimentary access to selected group activities and some Parent/Chaperone-only events.
A cocktail reception on April 24, 2023, after the Competition, will gather program alumni and friends – participants, their families and teachers, current and former judges, etc. as well as, hopefully, a few celebrities from the theater world.
You are all invited to join. Please mark your calendars – a formal invitation with all the details will follow soon.
Besides making the 2023 ESU National Shakespeare Competition finals extra special, we are offering another unique opportunity to celebrate the ESU's National Shakespeare Competition's 40th birthday - a transatlantic crossing aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 and a one-of-a-kind tour in and around London, July 7-17, 2023.
Under the theme of The Bard's Queens on Board, the voyage will offer the perfect mix of intellectual stimulation, elegant travel and sheer fun in the company of old and new friends.
A group of twenty travelers will set sail from New York on July 7 aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 for a week at sea. During the crossing, Shakespeare expert and author Dr. Catherine Loomis, who will travel with us, will amuse and challenge us with engaging daytime lectures and evening conversations about all things Shakespeare seen through the prism of the women in his life and art.
On shore, we will delight in behind-the-scenes access to unique places and people made possible by the ESU's network of connections built over a century. The Bard's Queen's theme will continue with visits to Hever Castle, ancestral home to Anne Boleyn; Knole at Sevenoaks, home to young Mary Tudor, later Mary I; and Hatfield House, Queen Elizabeth I's favorite residence. At Knole and Hatfield House, we will be greeted by the owners who will share family stories that go back centuries and show us private rooms not generally open to the public.
On the program are also a performance at Shakespeare's Globe and visits to the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library where we will see the First Folio. Did you know that 2023 marks the First Folio's 400 birthday?
For the grand finale, we will celebrate the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's anniversary at Dartmouth House, home of our sister organization, the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. We will tour this historic house, raise a toast in the Courtyard, and enjoy a sumptuous dinner in the Drawing Room, entertained by youth from the summer's Shakespeare competition, a newly launched program by Dartmouth House, inspired by our own Competition.
This voyage will be the first of our re-imagined exclusive tours to destinations and experiences connected to the ESU's history, programs and cultural traditions. In years past, the ESU had such a program. Some of my fondest memories – and strongest friendships – were forged during these ESU adventures. When I became Chairman, I vowed to bring these bespoke tours back, as a way to engage and thrill our most loyal supporters, celebrate our achievements and raise funds for the ESU's programs and activities.
The Bard's Queens on Board voyage will do all these things, magnificently. This will be a one-of-a-kind, "bucket-list" adventure. It is special because it will mark the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary – on the heels of the ESU's Centennial. You can find details about the itinerary and how to sign up on the tour's website page.
Dear friends, we want 2023 to be a year that celebrates our resilience in the face of adversity and the return to normalcy when we again get together with friends and raise a toast to life and happiness. The ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary is a perfect occasion to do that. Come to the finals in New York City on April 24, and if it is on your wish list, join us for the Bard's Queens on Board tour. It will be an experience of a lifetime.
Michayla George wins $25,000 in Scholarship to Study in England as the 2023-2024 ESU Luard Morse Scholar
New York City: Ms. Michayla George, a Business Major at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, has been selected as the recipient of an English-Speaking Union Luard Morse Scholarship. Karen Karpowich, Executive Director of the English-Speaking Union, announced the winner, noting that she will receive $25,000 toward a semester of study at any university of her choosing in the United Kingdom during the 2023-2024 academic year.
The English-Speaking Union Luard Morse Scholarship Committee is truly excited to announce Michayla George as the next Scholar. Michayla, a sophomore at Tennessee State University, represents the highest caliber of student-scholars our nation has to offer. The ESU is honored to support her educational efforts as she expands her horizons with this study-abroad opportunity. The Scholarship Committee and the ESU Luard Morse Alumni community joins me in wishing Michayla, and all the finalists and applicants, the very best." stated Darrell W. Hill, chair of the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship Committee.
Michayla intends to continue her study of Business Administration in the United Kingdom. Given her strong academic and leadership track record, we are confident that Michayla will excel during her semester abroad.
The ESU Luard Morse Scholarship Finalists included three other exceptional, sophomore students studying at HBCUs from across the United States: Ellison Richardson, a Political Science Major at Howard University, Lanise Myers, a Kinesiology Major at North Carolina A & T and Lorenzo Lugo, a Business Major at Morehouse College. For the first time since Covid, the ESU was happy to welcome the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship Finalists back to interview at ESU National Headquarters in New York City.
Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 5 PM (EDT)
Port Wines with Dr. Phil Williams
Take a journey with Dr. Phil Williams, President of the ESU Charlottesville Branch, and share a life-long fascination with Port wines, the nectar of the gods, and some of the grand stories which make it taste all the more wonderful. Whether one prefers White, Ruby, Tawny, Late Bottle Vintage, or Vintage Port, the history, politics, and traditions of Port are the stuff of legend.
"Be sometimes to your country true Have once the public good in view Bravely despise Champagne at Court And choose to dine at home with Port." - Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Dr. Henry P. (Phil) Williams III is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. He also teaches in the International Relations department of Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey. He has received Degrees and Diplomas from Culver Military Academy, the Universities of Virginia, Edinburgh, and Florence, and a PhD in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School, Tufts University. He has worked on the Mediterranean for more than ten years of his life, including stints in Turkey doing Doctoral Research, Investment Banking, and university-level teaching. He also worked in Corporate Finance on Wall St. for many years. He has published scholarly articles on Ottoman and Turkish Law as well as his recent book, Turkey and America, East & West – Where the Twain Meet. He has authored many news articles on Turkey and spoken widely on Turkey's domestic and international affairs for many years.
As another year draws to a close, we are all in the midst of preparations for this festive season. It is a special time for all of us to enjoy the company of family and friends, count our blessings and reflect on everything that is right in this world.
2022, without a doubt, has been one of my most memorable years. The ESU's Board of Directors placed their trust in me to lead the organization just as the pandemic restrictions eased. We took full advantage of this opportunity to restart our in-person programs and re- engage our membership.
Thanks to our Branches' and members' generosity, the ESU Teachers Learning Abroad (TLab) program sent forty-five teachers to continue their education at top UK universities.
And fourteen students have just begun living and studying for the 2022/23 academic year in the UK & US.
2,500 students took part in the ESU Middle School Debate Program which teaches them to think critically, speak with confidence and attack the argument rather than the speaker.
350 immigrants from 58 countries and 352 volunteers, fluent English speakers, met for weekly English in Action conversations that give learners the gift of fluency and enrich the lives of our volunteers.
The ESU National Shakespeare Competition held its 39th competition. The newly launched ESU Shakespeare Writing Program held contests that inspired and engaged middle and high school students who express their love of Shakespeare and the English language through creative and analytical writing.
After a delay due to COVID, the 2021-2022 ESU Luard Morse Scholar George Pratt took residency at the University of Manchester to study within the comparative religion and social anthropology departments. The 2022-2023 scholarship recipient Mr. Shang Andrews II from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will study computer science at Queen Mary University of London in 2023.
In-person Branch activities also resumed with lectures and celebrations across the country. I was fortunate to be part of a few of them and received the warmest of welcomes at the ESU's Branches in Louisville KY, Greenwich CT, Boston MA and New York when we celebrated Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's birthday and Platinum Jubilee in June.
And together with the entire world we deeply mourned Her Majesty's passing in early September.
The ESU 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, S.C., brought together our most enthusiastic and dedicated members for productive discussions about the ESU's future growth – and many wonderful moments of camaraderie and joy.
But 2022 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year when the ESU welcomed HRH The Princess Royal. Her Royal Highness' visit cast a spotlight on our extraordinary educational programs that have changed the lives of thousands of U.S. students, teachers, English language learners and ESU members. The spectacular Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club in the presence of The Princess Royal drew international media attention and elevated our organization's profile.
As we approach the end of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you - our members, volunteers, donors, and friends - for your support and commitment.
To the National Board members, thank you for your dedication to the success of the ESU and for your work on the governance and health of the organization.
I also want to acknowledge the participation of our Branch leaders and volunteers who commit endless hours to make sure that our members and the beneficiaries of our programs have the opportunity to learn, grow and just have fun with the ESU.
Lastly, I want to thank the ESU staff for the effort and creativity they put in day in and day out to offer the most effective, engaging and rewarding programs that all of you enjoy.
Dear friends, December is also the month of giving and I believe it is because the holidays – the holy days – bring out the giver in all of us. The holidays are about tradition, showing appreciation and support for the good work that matters to us and that helps to make a "person's life work better," as The Princess Royal put it in her address at the ESU Gala.
I know the ESU matters to you. I know that you've experienced first-hand its impact – through its educational programs and social activities. Otherwise, why would you be part of it? Why would you be reading this letter?
That's why I invite you to give to our organization this holiday season. Please make a gift – no amount is too small and will make a huge difference. We have a great year ahead and your support matters enormously.
I hope this holiday season is an exceptionally good and safe one and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness and prosperity.
May these days be filled with joy, peace, and hope!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on whom and what we are grateful for. In this spirit, we want to thank each and every one of you for the wonderful things you do for ESU. Our organization is vibrant, relevant and impactful because of you! In the video below, you can listen to a special Thanksgiving greeting from the entire ESU staff.
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.
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
Join us virtually for the Annual General Conference
November 13th - 10:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
The ESU Annual Conference is taking place in Charleston, South Carolina from November 11th- 13th. For those unable to attend in person, we highly encourage you to attend the virtual Annual General Meeting on November 13th from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm EST.
Limited space remaining: Join us for the 2022 ESU Annual Conference in Charleston, South Carolina
our first in-person Annual Conference since 2019
The English-Speaking Union welcomes its members to Charleston, South Carolina, for the 2022 ESU Annual Conference. The conference, under the theme of "Setting the Stage for Growth," will cover diverse and enriching approaches for organizational growth in the ESU's second century of programming. The conference program will include the ESU 2022 Annual General Meeting, social events, including receptions and meals, breakout sessions, panel discussions and local tours. We invite you to partake in the camaraderie and help us to advance our programs that support teachers, students and recent immigrants.
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 throughthe 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 theESU 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 ofthe 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 witha 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 ofSingle Petal of A RosefromThe Queen's Suiteby 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, theEnglish-Speaking Union of the United Statesis 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.
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.
It is with admiration and profound respect that we pay tribute to the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.Her Majesty served as Patron of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth since granting it a formal Royal Charter in 1957. She served alongside her husband the late Prince Philip who wasPresident of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth from 1952 to 2011. The Princess Royal, Princess Anne has since taken the mantle as President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth II's reign spanned 14 American Presidencies, beginning in 1952 with Dwight D. Eisenhower, later Chairman of the English Speaking Union of the United States. Emblematic of her reign was her care in fostering a special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, the principle upon which the English-Speaking Union was founded. She was a fierce champion for charity, education, and goodwill around the world.
Queen Elizabeth II speaking at an ESU event at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, 1957. Seated right is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth from 1952 to 2011)
As Patron of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II traveled extensively and served as an ambassador for peace. The English-Speaking Union of the United States was fortunate to honor and host her, as well as His Royal Highness Prince Philip, on multiple occasions. Among pictures in the ESU's collection are images from her visits to New York in 1957 and 1976, where she spoke at ESU-US-sponsored events at the Waldorf Astoria.
His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (left), Her Majesty The Queen (center), and Lewis Douglas, ESU Chairman from 1951-1959 (right) pictured at the ESU-hosted dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in 1957.
Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated steadfast leadership and integrity during her 70-year reign - qualities which we honor and emulate as an organization. We are thankful for her unwavering, life-long support of the English-Speaking Union's mission to foster global understanding and goodwill through the power of the English language.