ESU Southwest Virginia Branch

A Message from the Southwest Virginia Branch President

A few years ago, my wife and I toured South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. We had a wonderful time, but the matter which I wish to mention is not the animals or the scenery but rather the people and the use of the English language. 

We learned that there are eleven official languages in South Africa and at least seven unofficial dialects are also spoken. In Botswana, there are five official languages, and in Zimbabwe, there are eight. But what allows these people to converse with each other is English. In each of these countries, their students must learn English, and much of the business, government, shopping, and entertainment is conducted in English. The English language allows these diverse people to talk to each other and enables us to speak to them. 

Today, English is the second most popular language in the world, with an estimated 450 million native speakers. It is also the shared language of many whose native tongues are not widely known. Almost a quarter of the globe's population – perhaps 2 billion – can understand English. 

The English-Speaking Union aims to unite and empower people of different languages and cultures by building skills and confidence in communication in English. We also explore the richness of the English culture, whether it be literature, art, music, government, or history. With branches in the United States, the United Kingdom, and over 50 countries around the world, the ESU carries out a variety of activities such as debating, public speaking, and student exchange programs. The ESU also runs conferences and seminars and offers scholarships to encourage the effective use of the English language around the globe. 

With our Branch's goal of discovering and celebrating the durability and flexibility of the English language, our officers and Board of Directors will continue to provide our members with myriad activities that bring us together. 

Please join us. 

Bob Habermann

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News And Events

ESU Programs 2022-2023

September 25, 2022, 4-6 pm
Fall Opening Party. Bring Guests to the historic Virginian Railway Passenger Station at the intersection of Williamson Road and Jefferson Street. Hors d'oeuvres, wine, and soft drinks will be provided. Members are $25 each. Guests are free.

October 20, 2022
Cocktails and dinner at the Shenandoah Club to hear Dr. Jane S. Gabin, an educational consultant and speaker on "American Women in Victorian London." Black tie optional.

December 11, 2022
Our Annual Holiday Luncheon at the Shenandoah Club. Holiday attire is suggested.

February 9, 2023, 3 pm
Afternoon tea and finger foods at the Shenandoah Club "The Text Is a Lie: The 400-year Odyssey of Shakespeare's Plays" featuring represenatives from the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia

March 9, 2023, 3 pm
Afternoon tea and finger foods at the Shenandoah Club. Frances Fuller will speak on her book, "Helping Yourself Grow Old" and her years as a missionary publisher in the Middle East.

April 27, 2023
Dinner at Montano's new Anello Dining Room. Geoffrey Saur will be sharing his knowledge and talent of bagpipes with us. Mr. Saur has been piping for 15 plus years and has traveled to Scotland to join the Piper's Trail, the host band of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  




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2022 Program

Spring 2022
Programs are held at The Shenandoah Club, 24 Franklin Road, Roanoke, VA
Cocktails at 6:00pm Dinner at 6:45pm
Business Attire unless otherwise noted.
Guests are welcome if sponsored by a member. The cost for dinner is $40 per person.

January 20, 2022

Lia Wallace and Aubrey Whitlock from The American Shakespeare Center – The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia will talk on "To Play With You. The Role of the Audience in Shakespeare's Plays."

March 24, 2022

Jim Beeson will talk on his recent tour of "Biking Across the United States on the Southern Tier San Diego, California to St Augustine, Florida"

April 28, 2022

Tim Martin will talk on "The History of Modern Folk Music – Guitar and Song Writing." (Gentlemen: black tie suggested)


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ESU Programs

Programs are planned to be held at
The Shenandoah Club, 24 Franklin Rd, Roanoke, VA
Cocktails at 6:00pm Dinner at 6:45pm
Business Attire.
Guests are welcome if sponsored by a member.
The Garden Party, held in September in previous years will not be held in 2021 due to Covid 19 restrictions.


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With a performance of a sonnet and monologue from Shakespeare, Ryan Smith  from Roanoke, VA, a student of Steve Rittenhouse at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, placed as a semi-finalist in the 34th annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. The Competition took place on May 1, 2017 on the stage of the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center with 54 semi-finalists from as many ESU Branch competitions nationwide. Ryan previously won the ESU Southwest Virginia Branch competition.

The winner of the 34th English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, Ogechi Egonu, representing the San Francisco Branch, received a full scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, VA, this summer.  Second place winner, Brandon Burk, from the Kentucky Branch, won a cash prize of $1,000 from The English-Speaking Union, while the third place winner, Trevon Wainwright, representing the Kansas City Branch of the ESU, received an award of $500 provided by The Shakespeare Society.

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The English-Speaking Union

Southwest Virginia Branch

Southwest Virginia Branch Landmark Photo

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.