The English-Speaking Union

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Radclyffe "Mike" Thompson

The ESU's alumni highlight for this week, Radclyffe "Mike" Thompson, is from Philadelphia, PA. He went to Strathallan School in Scotland, in 1962-63 after attending St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated from University of Pennsylvania. Mike plays the clarinet and loves music.

Mike in December 1962 attending a fancy party with his host family at the Northern Meeting Ball. The kilt is from Strathallan School (and he still has it!) but: "the rest of the outfit was borrowed."

Mike served for 3 years in Vietnam and worked for over 30 years in sales and investments. His

Mike fishing on the Strathallan School pond, spring 1963. 

experience in the SSE program helped him to gain confidence in his skills to adapt to new situations. Mike says, "Anytime you move outside of your comfortable environment … you have to adapt. And suddenly finding yourself an ambassador to the United States was actually quite an interesting experience. And I think it may have helped me … when I went over to Vietnam, I was on a general staff. And for the last half of my one year duty in Vietnam, in addition to my regular duties, I actually taught an English language class and developed the textbook and everything." 

During school breaks, Mike traveled across Scotland, the Italian Alps, and Spain, and spent time getting to know his host families, who he remembers were generous and hospitable to their American guests. Staying with host families, he met an official guard of Buckingham Palace, and Mike went to see him at the changing of the guards.
Mike was part of a symphony orchestra for the first time at Strathallan. "[Music] was a big plus in the school … Strathallan had a very strong music program, a wonderful man called Mr. West who ran the program and ran it very well … I had clarinet lessons while I was over there … I sharpened my skills a little bit … I basically came home though, realizing that I didn't really need to look at music [notes] anymore … It helped me understand that that's what I wanted to do for the future."

Mike has enjoyed being in a singing group in Philadelphia for the last 35 years. He shares his love of music by teaching his grandchildren musical skills over Facetime, most recently Irish whistles.

Thank you to Mike for sharing your story with us at the ESU. We are inspired by your experiences and your love for music, and look forward to hearing more from our alumni!

Recent photo of Mike on his sailboat.