by Ruta Zadziorski, ESU Latvia President
Main image: Finalists at the ESU Latvia National Public Speaking Competition, April 2017.
Like the ESU, Latvia is open to many cultures and experiences and their fates have met in the past.
The English-Speaking Union of Latvia has been a member of the ESU since 2002. The English language is practically the second language to many Latvians and is widely used in commerce and banking. ESU Latvia participates annually in the IPSC, sending their finalist to London.
Moreover, ESU and Latvia are both celebrating their centennials this year! They not only share a common number of years but, more importantly, have some shared history. This is especially evident in the capital city of Riga, which was transformed by its mayor, George Armistead, whose family originated in Yorkshire, England (and whose daughter is said to have had piano lessons with Richard Wagner, who was residing in Riga at that time!). He transformed Riga into a modern city, establishing electric streetcars, and building many schools and hospitals.
The UK was the first country to de facto recognize Latvia’s independence. When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited Riga in 2006, she dedicated a monument to George Armistead and his family, and this is located in a park opposite to the Opera – one of the prettiest places in Riga. During her visit, I had the great honour to be presented to her in my capacity as ESU Latvia president.
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