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 email@example.com.
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,