The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

News and Events

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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In Memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 was President 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.

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A Message from the English-Speaking Union of the United States

On behalf of the National Board of Directors of The English Speaking Union of the United States and our entire community, I express our deep concern about the news from Buckingham Palace.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and her family at this time.

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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ESU message on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II served as Patron of the English-Speaking Union since granting our Royal Charter in 1957. We send our deepest condolences to her family at this time.

We will commemorate the passing of our Patron in the days to come.

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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ESU Happy Hour

Wednesday, September 7 at 5:30 PM (EST)
Victory at Sea: An in-depth exploration of the unique role of U.S-led naval power during World War II
Professor Paul Kennedy

Join us to hear Yale Professor and eminent historian Paul Kennedy discuss his latest book, Victory At Sea. Through his engrossing narrative, illustrated by maritime artist Paul Marshall's panoramic, full-color paintings, Professor Kennedy chronicles the rise and fall of the great powers during World War II.  Tracking the movements of the six major navies of the war---the allied navies of Britain, France, and the United States and the Axis navies of Germany, Italy, and Japan--- Professor Kennedy tells a story of navel battles, maritime campaigns, and amphibious landings from the sea. By doing so, he shows how changes in naval supremacy during the decade between 1936 and 1946 decisively altered the course of both World War II and the geopolitical balance of powers


Read More                              Register Online Here

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ESU 2022 Gala - October 3, 2022

If you or your Branch would like to register for virtual access, we encourage you to do so. Branches who opt for virtual access can submit a greeting that will be played for all attendees during the gala.

Individual Virtual Access to the Program: $100

($100 tax-deductible)

  • Listing in all print and online materials
  • Virtual access to the program portion of the evening

Branch Virtual Access to the Program: $1,000

($1,000 tax-deductible)

  • Listing in all print and online materials
  • Virtual access to the program portion of the evening
  • Pre-recorded greeting from the Branch 

Full Page, Full Color Ad in Program $1,000

(Fully tax-deductible)

  • Listing in program as Patron Ad specifications upon request.
Register Here


Are you interested in attending the Gala in person at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City?

Remaining seats are very limited. For more information, please contact Rossana Ivanova at

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ESU Happy Hour

Wednesday, August 17 at 5:00 PM (EST)
Churchill at War on the Nile
Dr. James Muller

The River War, Winston Churchill's second book, describes the reconquest of the Sudan from the Islamist regime of the Dervishes by an Anglo-Egyptian army commanded by General Herbert Kitchener, 1896-99. Churchill participated in the campaign as an officer and a war correspondent, charging with the cavalry at the climactic battle of Omdurman. His book, published in two volumes in 1899, is the most impressive of five books he wrote before he entered Parliament in 1901 at the age of 26. After 32 years of work, Professor James W. Muller has edited the definitive edition of the book, published by St. Augustine's Press, which won the 2021 Literary Award from the International Churchill Society. Professor Muller will tell the story of preparing the new edition and speak about the significance of the book for understanding Churchill's thoughts on empire, war, race and religion.


Read More                              Register Online Here

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Chairman's July Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear friends,

Please mark Monday,  October 3, 2022, in your calendars!

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, will be in New York City to take part in the ESU Gala that evening. The Gala will be held both in person at the Cosmopolitan Club of New York and virtually on Zoom, so that all of you can participate, even when travel to New York is not practical.

This moment has been long in coming – the last visit by a member of the Royal Family was in 1989 when Prince Philip was the guest of honor at an ESU gala at the Plaza. And this will be the first time the ESU has had the privilege of hosting The Princess Royal.

To those of you who have already bought tickets – big thank you for staying with us! And to those of you who have not registered yet, please do so soon. There are a limited number of tables and individual tickets available. You can also sign up to attend the event virtually. I look forward to seeing many of you on October 3.

Now that I have made the big announcement, I will get back to initial purpose of this letter – the account of my extraordinary month of June at the ESU.

It started on a high note with the national celebration of The Queen's Platinum Jubilee and 96th birthday on June 3, 2022.

The virtual event brought us together to mark this historic milestone and salute Her Majesty for all the years of service she has given to the people of the United Kingdom and the entire world. Members of the ESU New Orleans Branch joined me and Michael at our country residence in Pass Christian, Mississippi, to take part in the festivities in person.

I commend the ESU staff for creating an uplifting and joyful program that befitted the occasion.

Among the highlights was the unveiling of the painting "Morning Light" by renowned artist Lorraine Villere, who donated it to the ESU on the occasion of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Ms. Villere, who joined our gathering in Mississippi, shared the significance of her exquisite painting of bluebells, Britain's most iconic flower. The painting is prominently displayed on the main floor the ESU House. Please, stop by the ESU when you are in New York – you'll be proud to see this and other beautiful pieces of art at our headquarters.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper and artist Mrs. Lorraine Villere talk about the inspiration for her painting "Morning Light" (in the background).

High-school student Taylor White read her poem "A love Song from the Sky" that won the first Modern Troubadour Competition, part of the new ESU National Shakespeare Writing Program. The program seeks to engage students who express their love of Shakespeare through creative and analytical writing.

Taylor White, New York Branch, student of Leslie Kohn at Scholars' Academy won the ESU 2022 Modern Troubadour Competition with her free-form poem "A Love Song from the Sky" based on Shakespeare's sonnets 3, 18, 105 and 116.

We also participated in the Queen's Green Canopy – a unique tree planting initiative to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee by "Planting a Tree for the Jubilee." Both ESU New York and our party in Mississippi proudly showed off our trees.

The ESU national staff planting an Eastern Redbud as part of the Queen's Green Canopy.

I encourage you to plant a tree this year. By putting a seed in the ground, we improve our environment and our lives. And what better reason to do it than in honor of Her Majesty!

The event ended with my performance of Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite. Duke Ellington composed the album of six pieces in honor of Queen Elizabeth after meeting her in 1958. I invite you to listen to it – it is a beautiful and very intimate expression of the Duke's admiration for the young Queen. The recording is a tribute to Her Majesty for her extraordinary reign.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper performs Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite accompanied by Steven Ray Artists Jazz Band.

That was only the start of a whirlwind month of travel – to Louisville, KY; Greenwich, CT; Boston, MA; and New York City to participate in Branch Platinum Jubilee festivities and other events.

My first stop was in Louisville, KY, to attend the ESU Kentucky Branch's Mad Hatter's Tea Party on June 5, 2022. The Branch President, Ms. Kate Nitzken, Branch Board and members welcomed me warmly to their wonderful celebration that blended tradition and generous hospitality and showcased the Branch's charitable programs. It was graciously hosted by ESU member and philanthropist Mr. Lowry Rush Watkins, Jr. at Oxmoor Woods Farm, a landmark estate just outside Louisville and home to five generations of the Bullitt family, of which Mr. Watkins is a descendent.

We delighted in the voices of Sacred Heart Madrigal Singers. We enjoyed the performance of the ESU Kentucky Branch Shakespeare Competition Winner and national Third Place Winner, Kathuure Miriti. And we cheered the six scholars selected to receive scholarships to universities and programs in the U.K.

The ESU Kentucky Branch 2022 scholarship winners: (from left) Rayleigh Deaton, Elizabeth Ewing, Elayne Harrington, Katie Blackerby Weible, and Rebecca Hibbard. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography

The ESU Kentucky Branch is noted for its scholarship program for teachers and college students. I was amazed to learn that since 1960, ESU Kentucky has awarded over 528 scholarships. They have been made possible by generous contributions from local philanthropists and Branch members. These funds are managed judiciously to provide support for the scholarships in perpetuity.

There was also a touching moment when we honored former Branch President O. Grant Bruton, Esq. with the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award. Mr. Bruton had a special bond with the ESU. He was the first ESU Secondary School Exchange scholar from the ESU Kentucky Branch. After that formative experience, he graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and went on to have a long and influential career as a lawyer. Mr. Bruton passed away less than a month after our event, on July 7, 2022. He will be missed.

ESU Kentucky Branch President Kate Nitzken, Events Chair Lynn Smith, Co-Vice President Sylvia Bruton, ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, Mr. Joe Nitzken (seated). Mrs. Bruton receives the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award on behalf of her husband, O. Grant Bruton, Esq. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography

On June 12, I found myself at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT. Commanding spectacular views on Long Island Sound, it was the perfect setting for the ESU Greenwich Branch's Queen's Jubilee and 96th Birthday celebration.

I was there at the kind invitation of ESU benefactor and President of the Greenwich Branch Mrs. Natalie Pray, who for years has been the force behind the Branch's active social calendar and charitable programs. Mrs. Pray's annual Queen's birthday parties are legendary for their elegance and refinement. This year's celebration was especially memorable, marking both Her Majesty's 96th birthday and her 70 years on the throne.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper (center) with ESU Greenwich Branch members (from left): Michael Brown, Louisa Greene, Janie Galbreath and Michael Galbreath at the ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel

Champagne, exquisite tea sandwiches and chocolate desserts lifted everyone's spirits. Then, we enjoyed the performance of ESU Greenwich Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward of one of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquies – Macbeth's "Is this a dagger which I see before me…"

ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, who also attended the party, noted that "the educational programs have always been at the heart of the ESU. And our Greenwich Branch exemplifies the best of the best under the leadership of President Natalie Pray, and the amazing work of the Board and program coordinators." It was rewarding to learn later that the Greenwich Sentinel reported on the event with a full-page story complete with photos.

ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich (right) presents ESU Greenwich National Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward (left) with a gift, a teddy bear named Will, after William Shakespeare. ESU Greenwich president Natalie Pray (center) is holding a flower bouquet for Machiavelli. ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel

The following weekend, June 19, I flew to Boston for the ESU Boston Branch's Platinum Jubilee Luncheon Buffet and Champagne Reception. There, too, I was joined by Ms. Karpowich and cordially received by Branch President Mr. Paul Boghosian and his members.

Held at the historic Lyman Estate in Waltham, MA, the celebration was the culmination of the Branch's busy spring schedule. The ESU Boston Branch managed to host a number of live events this spring when so many other organizations failed to do so. Big thanks go to Mr. Boghosian and the Branch Board, who guided ESU Boston in overcoming the pandemic's impact.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar

On the program was a toast to the Queen by the UK's Consul-General in Boston, we listened to an engaging lecture on Queen Elizabeth's place among history's greatest monarchs, and we delighted in the performance of the Boston Branch's 2022 Shakespeare Competition Winner, Marlie Kass.

ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar

ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass. Photo by Robert Pushkar.

My peripatetic month of June ended in New York. There was, of course, the scheduled meeting of the National Board. But what I was truly excited about – and I know the other Board members share my sentiment – were the events at our Headquarters that made the trip to New York all the more worthwhile.

On June 23, ESU members, teachers and students joined us in person and online to celebrate our volunteers: the dedicated, big-hearted people who enrich our programs and help advance the ESU mission. The event spotlighted one of the ESU's most impactful programs, English in Action, which pairs volunteer native English speakers with English language learners for weekly conversations.

ESU Immigrant Programs Director, Rona Weitz speaking at the "Celebrating Volunteerism" Event.

And, on the following day, at an intimate reception in the Garden Lounge of the ESU House, we raised a toast to H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE, for his new title of Chairman Emeritus awarded by the ESU Board of Directors in recognition of his six remarkable years as Chairman.

H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill accepts his new title of ESU Chairman Emeritus.

Dear friends, now you know why I call it my extraordinary month of June at the ESU. I met old friends and made new ones, visited amazing places full of history and beauty, and witnessed first-hand the impact of our Branches' amazing work. I thank Ms. Kate Nitzken, Mrs. Natalie Pray, Mr. Paul Boghosian, Ms. Karen Karpowich and the ESU staff, and all ESU members in Kentucky, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York for making me feel so welcome.

And I was reminded, again and again, of the true spirit of the English-Speaking Union – the spirit of fellowship, generosity and dedication to the English language's rich cultural heritage that brings us together. I hope you will continue to be a part of it.

Please renew your membership, and, if you are not a member yet, join the English-Speaking Union. Register for the October 3 Gala in the presence of the Princess Royal – a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to receive Her Royal Highness' accolades for your hard work and dedication. And sign up for the 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, S.C. to enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow members and chart the future of our organization.

I will write my next letter to you in September because August should be a time for all of us to rest and recharge. Until then, I wish you a healthy and enjoyable summer.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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2022 ESU Annual Conference

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.

Want to renew your membership to the ESU? Click here to renew.

Register for the 2022 Annual Conference


Download Form Here

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Chairman's June Newsletter

Dear friends,

In just a short week, we start a new program year at the English-Speaking Union. With this letter, I invite you to renew your membership, and if you are not a member yet, to join our organization.

The past two long years of pandemic isolation posed extraordinary challenges to both our Branch and National programs. And yet, thanks to our members' loyalty and support, our work continued – from the virtual National Shakespeare Competition, to the online Happy Hour and Evelyn Wrench lectures, to the remote English classes and conversations for our immigrant students.

You stayed with us during the hard times.

It should be a much easier decision to continue your ESU membership now when we can again fully experience the pleasure of meeting old friends and making new ones, of being challenged by interesting ideas and stimulating experiences, of engaging in a dialogue with people from around the world.

You, our members, are the English-Speaking Union. Your support enables the ESU's nationwide activities that will be back in person this year:

  • Any moment we expect to hear about the new date of HRH Princess Anne's visit to New York City and the ESU Gala in her presence.
  • In November, we will all gather in Charleston, South Carolina, for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference. Thought-provoking working sessions and a series of wonderful social events – receptions, tours, and lectures – will show us the true meaning of Southern hospitality.
  • In April 2023, we will mark the 40th anniversary of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition with a spectacular weekend-long in-person program for all Branch winners in New York City. A festive reception will welcome all of you to the celebration.
  • The Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series will resume in-person lectures by renowned thinkers from the U.K. and U.S.
  • The ESU Travel and Learn Abroad Program (TLab for Lifelong Learners) will be back with stimulating educational experiences in the U.K.
  • And finally, you are always welcome at the ESU Headquarters in New York City and at Dartmouth House in London – the seat of our sister organization, the ESU of the Commonwealth.

Your membership dues also underpin your Branch events – stimulating speaker programs, holiday receptions, special luncheons, film presentations, book discussions, and myriad activities that make participation in the ESU so rewarding.

I would be remiss, though, if I don't also invite you to join the ESU National Patron Program.

The generous membership gifts of the ESU National Patrons bolster some of the ESU's most revered programs, such as the ESU National Shakespeare Competition, the Secondary School Exchange, and the Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series.

More importantly, since up to half of the Patron membership gifts go back to the Patron's Branch, it strengthens Branch activities and programs, too – from sponsoring a TLab Scholar, to sending a student to the National Shakespeare Competition, to supporting your local charities, to hosting in-person events for the first time in over two years.

And we all know how important strong Branches are for the ESU's future.

Our National Patrons enjoy special benefits as a recognition of their elite status. Patron privileges, including discounts and exclusive events in the U.S. and the U.K., make joining the ESU National Patron Program even more worthwhile.

Let me mention just a few highlights.

The 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, November 11-13, will give us an opportunity to spotlight our Patrons' contributions and thank them for their support.

The traditional Patron Reception will be especially memorable. It will feature acclaimed author Susan Sully, who will share with our Patrons her passion and curiosity about Charleston's unique architecture and design traditions. A signed copy of her latest book, The Allure of Charleston, will be our thank-you gift to the ESU National Patrons.

We are also bringing back the National Patron-exclusive tours. The first will be an once-in-a-lifetime voyage through Elizabethan England in the summer of 2023 that will celebrate the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary.

Dear friends, a new membership year starts on July 1 and I sincerely hope that you will renew and even upgrade to National Patron status, if you are not already a Patron.

And remember: whether joining as a regular member or a National Patron, you will be part of a venerable organization that for a century has pursued the noble mission of expanding minds, strengthening friendships and expanding opportunities through the power of the English language.

I look forward to your support and participation.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper

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