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.
Wednesday, June 29th at 5:00 PM (EDT) ESU Members Sharing... Our favorite Sonnets, Verses, Poems, & Prose With Dr. Susan Sinclair
Oh literature, oh the glorious Art, how it preys upon the marrow in our bones. It scoops the stuffing out of us and chucks us aside. Alas! –D.H. Lawrence
Join our next ESU Happy Hour as members share their favorite poems, sonnets, verses, or flash fiction*. We all have our favorite verses or memorable poems and members and guests from branches across the U.S. will share their favorites.
Long-time ESU member, Dr. Susan Sinclair, will lead this special Happy Hour program, Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 5:00 pm EDT. This is a free program for all ESU members and guests. Invite your friends to join us.
Please submit your favorite poem, verse, sonnet, or flash fiction* (prose).
Limit of 500 words or less
You may choose from your favorite author, or you may compose your own piece.
You will be reading your submission at the Happy Hour, so, practice, practice, and practice.
Deadline for submissions: Tuesday, June 21
We will select as many submissions as time permits.
We will notify you by email on June 23rd if your submission is selected.
If you want to submit, click both Submit.
If you just want to attend and watch the Happy Hour, click Register.
Steven Ray Artists Jazz Band
The Queen's Suite
By Duke Ellington
About the Performance
Duke Ellington composed The Queen's Suite in 1958 after meeting Queen Elizabeth during his
command performance for the Royal Family at the Leeds Festival. Upon his return to the U.S. he
wrote an album of six pieces dedicated to her. After recording the suite at Columbia Studios, he
felt that the album was too personal and refused to release it publicly. He reimbursed Columbia
Records for the production costs and gave the Queen the only copy, a master gold disc. No one
outside Ellington's inner circle knew of The Queen's Suite until two years after his death in 1974.
It was released posthumously and in 1976 won a Grammy.
With thanks to all registrants to the postponed ESU Gala in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal for their support and patience while we work with Her Royal Highness' office on rescheduling the event.
Contribute to the Event!
Join in on the celebration by sharing a photo or video toasting the Queen or planting a tree as part of the "Queen's Green Canopy". Please submit no later than August 30th.
Videos submitted should be no longer than 2 minutes.
Purchase tickets for the raffle!
Enter for a chance to win a haul of commemorative goodies! Five prizes will be awarded!
An official Jubilee Mug, an array of books by ESU Wrench Speakers, the ESU Cenntenial scarf and pocket square, official vintage Royal memorabilia from the ESU's personal collection, among other things!
I ended my April letter to you with a wish – I wished that after more than two years of pandemic isolation, we would get to see each other face-to-face. I wished that we would get to delight again in the experiences that drew us to the English-Speaking Union in the first place: the exciting learning opportunities, stimulating cultural exchanges, rewarding social interactions and the sense of personal satisfaction from the impact of our generosity on others.
That's why I am delighted to share with you the great news that the English-Speaking Union is moving steadily to in-person programs and activities.
Thanks to your big-heartedness and no quarantine restriction, the ESU TLab (Teachers Learning Abroad) has gone from sending three teachers in the summer of 2021 to 39 teachers this summer to the UK to attend professional development courses at the University of Oxford, the Shakespeare's Globe and the University of Edinburgh. Scholarships from 11 Branches and personal contributions will enable these teachers to study with leading scholars, writers and public figures and seize unique opportunities to connect with colleagues from a range of nations and professional backgrounds.
Big thanks to the ESU Central Florida, Charlottesville, Denver, Greenwich, Kentucky, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, New Orleans, North Carolina Research Triangle, New York and Richmond Branches for supporting our teachers!
Our other educational and international scholarship programs have also returned to in-person programming this year. The 2021-2022 Luard Morse Scholar, Mr. George Pratt, a junior from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, is already deep in study at the University of Manchester, where he continues his education in religion, history, and oratory.
While in the UK, George has been actively involved with the ESU of the Commonwealth, judging local debates as well as the ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition Grand Final in Cambridge and the International Public Speaking Competition.
A total of nine ESU Secondary School Exchange (SSE) students are just finishing up their 2021-22 academic year in the US and UK, with more SSE students planning to cross the Pond for the 2022-23 academic year. And the ESU Middle School Debate Program held its first in-person championship since the pandemic on April 30, 2022 at the Dalton School in New York. 90 students were thrilled to spend a full day together, vigorously debating tough topics such as "Children under 14 should not use smartphones," "The US should implement compulsory voting in general elections," and "Abolish the Olympic Games."
As I announced in my previous letter, at long last, the ESU 2022 Annual General Conference will be held in-person November 11-13, 2022, generously hosted by the ESU Charleston Branch. Under the theme, "Setting the Stage for Growth," the conference program will center on consultant, Reverend Renee LiaBraaten's study on how to expand participation in the ESU. Rev. LiaBraaten will work throughout the summer with a diverse group of Branch leaders, Members, volunteers and others to discern pathways for growth at the Branch and National levels.
We've secured the perfect location for the conference – the historic Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. Originally built in 1853, the Mills House, otherwise known as "The Pink Hotel," retains most of its exterior design and historic details and combines the charm of 19th-century Charleston with contemporary indulgence. A prime example of historical tenacity and modern renewal, the Mill House will provide a fitting – and symbolic – setting for our Annual General Conference, during which we will chart a path for our century-old organization toward a growing membership and vibrant Branches.
We need this conversation now more than ever before because you – our members and volunteers – are the pillars of the English-Speaking Union. Without you, the ESU would not exist.
Volunteerism has always been at the heart of our organization. A great example is the ESU's English in Action (EiA) program. One of our most admired endeavors, EiA has been welcoming newcomers to the United States since 1976. It pairs volunteer native English speakers with English language learners for weekly one-to-one conversation sessions. Our volunteers offer students the gift of fluency and knowledge about life in the U.S., all the while engaging in a stimulating interaction with people from different countries. The program truly epitomizes the English-Speaking Union's purpose of fostering understanding and bonds between cultures and people through the power of the English language.
Over the past year, we launched a small but promising pilot project to expand EiA beyond its original home base in the New York area. English in Action Across America pairs students from New York with volunteers from Branches across the country for weekly conversations via Zoom. The students are thrilled to meet ESU members outside New York and the volunteers report a deep feeling of satisfaction and intellectual motivation by interacting with English learners from the four corners of the earth.
To recognize our volunteers and encourage others to be as generous with their time and talent, we're dedicating the annual celebration of the ESU Immigrant Services Programs to our volunteer tutors. During the "Volunteerism: Engage, Educate and Empower" event on Thursday, June 23 from 4:30 - 6:00 pm EST, we will celebrate the impact of volunteerism on the lives of both students and volunteers. We will recognize our volunteers' talent and generosity by highlighting examples of their creativity, collaboration and dedication. It will be a hybrid event – both in-person and broadcast on Zoom, so that all of you can participate, even when travel to New York is not practical. I hope you will join us for this special evening. Come and get inspired to bring the spirit of volunteerism back to your Branch!
Dear friends, to quote Leo Tolstoy: "Spring is the time of plans and projects." And I invite you to join us as we make plans for the ESU's future and set them in motion. Take part in the upcoming celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee on June 3. Salute our volunteers on June 23. Attend events at your Branch and renew your ESU membership in July. Spare some time to provide input into Rev. LiaBraaten's study and come to the 2022 AGM, November 11-13 in Charleston, SC. You are the English-Speaking Union – there is no path forward without you.
And if there is anything you'd like to share with me – a question or a comment, an idea, criticism or praise – please write to me directly at email@example.com.
I'd love to hear from you.
With best regards,
National Board of Directors
The English-Speaking Union of the United States
The ESU expresses solidarity with the victims and communities affected by the horrific shooting in Buffalo last weekend. We are resolutely opposed to hate, racism and white supremacy in all forms. In the wake of this shocking event, we reaffirm our commitment to global understanding and goodwill. Our education programs educate and empower immigrants, educators and students and promote civil discourse and open dialogue among diverse groups. We will continue to work towards a future in which hate has no place.