We were delighted that four Governors of the ESU were able to attend: James Raven, James Scruby, Tony Wood (Ouse Valley), and Ellen Punter (Ouse Valley), and, from Dartmouth House, Alex Bailey.
Proceedings began with Junior Public Speaking presentations by two teams of year 4/5 pupils from Cauldwell Primary School in Bedford – the most successful school in the history of our annual (and pioneering) series of these competitions, now in their eighth year. The first subject was “Animals should not be kept in cages” – a show of hands indicating that the audience overwhelmingly agreed. On the second subject, “School uniforms should be banned”, we were evenly divided! Prizes and certificates were presented by James Raven to the pupils, who all gave an excellent, articulate and most impressive account of themselves. Congratulations too to the teaching staff.
After lunch we were privileged to hear Professor Raven, Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, trace the history of Anglo American Relations, particularly with reference to the ESU. He knows the USA well, (specialist period Carter to Trump!), his personal involvement beginning as a student involved in ESU public speaking.
Discussion of a permanent special link between the US and the UK actually started soon after American Independence, the shared trauma of the First World War finally resulting in the formation of the ESU in 1918: “International relations should not be left to governments alone”. Relations were particularly close in the 1920s and 1930s and again during and after the Second World War. Our two countries have many differences of course, but, more importantly, many shared values which both our ESUs can strongly support and encourage. “Soft Power” must be increasingly used, with its armoury of a huge variety of cultural, scholarly, social, political and school links and exchanges. US ESU has its own Shakespeare Competitions – soft power indeed! A final bonus: we can understand our own country better from a foreign perspective.
Professor Raven’s stimulating analysis was much appreciated and provided an excellent start to our Centenary Year special events. We look forward to our Centenary dinner in September.
This story was submitted by the ESU Ouse Valley branch. Please click here for information on this branch and its upcoming events.