Imagine after thirty-two years in the classroom, 1960-1992, I learned from a colleague at another high school about the English Speaking Union and its branch in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A., offering to a teacher a six weeks' paid trip to England to study British culture and literature. The last sixteen of those years had been spent at Brebeuf Jesuit College Preparatory School where I taught British Literature, Irish Literature, and the Advanced Placement English course that covered all literary genres in the United Kingdom. A perfect fit for a teacher who needed a challenge and a break!

The interview to be considered a candidate went well. In fact, we digressed from their questions to discuss some of the British drama, poetry, and novels I taught. Two weeks later I received a phone call inviting me to Birbeck College at the University of London for three weeks and Exeter College at Oxford University for three weeks. I accepted with glee. The Branch paid everything but the airfare, and Brebeuf Jesuit offered to pay that.

Homework was required; I read the fourteen books. That diligence paid off as it gave me more time to attend plays in the afternoons and evenings. As a "student," I could purchase a ticket for as little as eight to ten pounds per play. My only splurge was seeing "The Phantom of the Opera" at Her Majesty's Theatre. $75.00 in 1992 was a great deal of money, and I recall thinking "Do I, or do I not?" Fortunately the "Do I" won.

For the first three weeks, l roomed with another woman in a flat in Russell Square near poet Christina Rossetti's flat and near where some of the Bloomsbury group had gathered. We attended lectures on British culture and literature each morning and had tutorials in the afternoons on the books. Those of us who had prepared before the experience were excused by mid-afternoon. Our rather small group headed out to Covent Garden to obtain tickets and then to see an exhibit at a museum before dinner and the theatre. I recall visiting Charles Dickens' house and purchasing a signed poster by one of his cousins, allegedly his last living relative. It is framed and still much cherished today and depicts Dickens dreaming about his characters.

Exeter College of the University of Oxford has as its neighbor Bodleian Library where I raised my hand that first day and took the oath not to set fire to any of its nine million printed items. During the mornings, we all attended the same lectures. In the afternoons I met with a female don who led lively discussions with a small group of Virginia Woolf admirers. I still have my final paper for that course of study. Afternoon tea and sherry were enjoyed in the 1341 dining hall before dinner. Occasionally we might go to Stratford Upon Avon to see a play instead of staying for the social hour.

Six weeks with a diverse group of teachers from all over the world who immersed themselves in British culture and literature as well as shared their teaching stories was "a breath of fresh air" for all of us. I stayed in touch with a woman who taught French at Trinity College in Dublin and visited her there a few summers later. That experience provided rich materials for my Irish Literature curriculum.

Six weeks at Birbeck College and Exeter College enriched and expanded my English curriculum at Brebeuf Jesuit and St. Richard's Episcopal School for the next nineteen years in the teaching profession. I continue to read and to explore "All Things British."

My husband and I have been to England nine times, the last being 2019 with two friends with whom we studied London Architecture. We visited and had tea at Dartmouth House in Mayfair. I will always be an Anglophile. Thank you, English Speaking Union!