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!
With best regards,