English in Action: The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

News and Events

The ESU 2015 Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting


The 2015 ESU Annual Conference, with the theme "General Washington Takes New York," took place October 10 - 12 at the Hilton Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel in midtown Manhattan.  Branch Presidents were specifically invited to a day-long Conclave with National Board Members that took place all day Saturday just prior to the formal opening for the Conference, and the Board of Directors met that day as well.

Organized by National Headquarters staff, the ESU National Conference and Annual General Meeting comprised a series of meetings, lunches, dinners, receptions and tours over the Columbus Day weekend.  Members assembled on Saturday evening, after the morning Board meeting and afternoon Presidents Conclave, for a reception and opening dinner in the hotel's Chrysler Room, which boasted a dramatic cityspace view with the the Art Deco style Chrysler Building towering overhead.  . Prominent historical biographer, Flora Fraser, delivered the keynote address after dinner about her new biography The Washingtons, George and Martha: Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love being published by Knopf later this year.

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ESU Celebrates Shakespeare 400

On April 23, 1616, William Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon in England, and his extraordinary legacy began.  Around the globe next year, theaters, universities, museums and schools will celebrate his plays and sonnets and their impact from Renaissance England to the entire world today.  The English-Speaking Union will be taking part in this year-long celebration of the Bard's legacy. Learn more about ESU Shakespeare400

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Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill Elected Chairman of The English-Speaking Union of the United States


(New York, September 28, 2015)  Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill MBE was elected Chairman of The English-Speaking Union of the United States unanimously at a meeting of its Board of Directors on September 27.  His two-year term of office began immediately.  Dr. Beresford-Hill was selected to lead the English-Speaking Union of the United States for his global experience as a scholar, educator, administrator and author.

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All the World’s a Stage for ESU Scholars at Shakespeare’s Globe in London

2015 BUSS Scholars in Front of Dartmouth House

This summer, 25 American high school teachers participated as ESU British University Summer School (BUSS) scholars in the three-week Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance program at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London.  The Globe is a reconstruction of the 1599 Elizabethan playhouse on the River Thames, now a major cultural center in England.  Many of the BUSS scholars attended on full scholarships granted by their local ESU Branches.  They will return to their classrooms this fall equipped with new methods to teach Shakespeare.

For three weeks, the ESU BUSS scholars live and breathe Shakespeare, immersed in the life of this famous working theatre.  They are instructed by Shakespearean scholars and members of the Globe Theatre Company responsible for design, direction, movement, music, text and voice.  They have the chance to view Globe productions and concluded their course by performing selected scenes from As You Like It on the Globe stage.

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British Universities Summer School Fellowships 2015

Medha Kirtane (ESU Princeton) and Courtney Powers (ESU Greenwich)

This summer, the University of Oxford has welcomed 19 American teachers as English-Speaking Union British University Summer Schools (BUSS) scholars to its International Summer School program.  For three weeks, these American middle and high school teachers study English Literature, History, Politics and Society, or Creative Writing at Exeter College. Founded in 1314, Exeter is one of the oldest and most esteemed colleges at Oxford.

Medha Kirtane, a teacher sponsored by the ESU Princeton Branch currently studying Religion and Politics of the Middle East and the Politics and Economics of Globalization reports "The breadth of the academic focus, the curiosity and passion of my fellow peers, the rich learning environment and the access to great books and resources have really excited and humbled me. I have already experienced the freedom of fresh thoughts and provocative ideas that will stimulate my teaching."

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ESU New York Team Wins Middle School National Debate Championship

On May 29th at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City the facts flew back and forth between students from the the Hackley School of Tarrytown, New York, and the Pegasus School of Huntington Beach, California, who were vying to become the 2015 National English-Speaking Union -Middle School Public Debate Program Champions. Arguing in support of the motion "The United States should abolish the death penalty," Hackley convinced the panel of three judges to award them First Place.

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ESU Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center Celebrates its Second Graduating Class

On May 21 the English-Speaking Union Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center celebrated its second year with a graduation ceremony hosted by the Open Society Foundations, financial supporters of the program, at their offices in New York City.

The Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center (ARNIC), named for the program's key visionary and supporter, is committed to improving the lives of recent immigrants by providing resources and information to help them improve their English, assistance in exploring work and study opportunities, networking, and acquiring cultural fluency so that they may participate fully in American society. Launched in January 2013, the ARNIC Program has served more than 400 new Americans.

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Teenager from Hawaii wins ESU National Shakespeare Competition

(l to r - Third place winner, Elizabeth Mears, winner Sarah Spalding and Second place winner Evelyn Johnson)

New York City, April 27, 2015 -- With a performance of a sonnet and monologue from Shakespeare, Sarah Spalding, a student of John Watt at Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, won first prize at the 32nd annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition. The Competition was held on April 27th at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City for 57 winners of ESU Branch competitions nationwide. Sarah had previously won the ESU Hawaii Branch regional competition. Her prize for placing first is a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art's Young Actors Summer School in London, England.

The runner up of the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, Evelyn Johnson, representing the Philadelphia Branch of the ESU, won a full scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center's Theatre Camp in Staunton, Virginia. Third place winner, Elizabeth Mears, representing the Boston Branch of the ESU, won $500 from The Shakespeare Society.

The finalists were:

Alfred Bardwell-Evans - Charlottesville Branch
Angelo Chukwudebe - San Francisco Branch
Hale Stewart - Phoenix Branch
Koria Johnson - Sandhills Branch
Andrew Davis - Austin Branch
Harry Thornton - Chicago Branch
Willington Vuelto - New York Branch

View photos of the 2015 National Competition. 

Watch videos of the 2015 Competition Finalists.

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ESU Sponsors 236 Middle School Debates at East Coast Championship Tournament

On April 18, 2015, the English-Speaking Union, along with its partner the Middle School Public Debate Program, welcomed 282 students from 31 schools in six states to the Hackley School in Tarryton, NY.  These students participated in 236 rounds of debate.  Teams from the Hackley School and Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, VA advanced to the Final Championship Debate where they sparred over the topic:  The US should pay ransom for hostages.

The Championship Tournament was the culmination of a year-long initiative sponsored by the English Speaking Union in New York and New Jersey, and is part of the national Middle School Public Debate Program.  Attending the tournament were public, charter and independent schools from inter-scholastic Leagues in New York City, Monmouth County, NJ, Washington, DC and New Orleans.  Over 100 teachers and parents joined the students on April 18th to serve as volunteer judges. 

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The 2015 English-Speaking Union Founder’s Award

The Hon. Edwina Sandys MBE and Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill MBE were presented the English-Speaking Union Founder's Award on April 27 for their roles in helping to launch the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition 32 years ago.  Immediately following the 2015 ESU National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center Theater, the awards were presented at a festive reception and dinner in the Crystal Room of the Empire Hotel.

Danny Lopez, Her Majesty's Consul General in New York, served as Honorary Chairman of the event committee.  Unable to attend in person, he was represented by Nick Astbury, Deputy Consul-General and Deputy Head of Mission.

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