SEPTEMBER 11, 1940
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Yesterday morning I left home at 7:30 and did succeed in doing some of that Christmas shopping I have been talking about. I also bought a few birthday gifts, for September happens to be a month of many birthdays in our family.
I went to speak at a luncheon which opened a conference held by the International Student Service of young student leaders. A very charming Miss Louise Morley, who had organized the conference and introduced me, said some very true things about the responsibility which young college people have to be leaders in their communities because of their educational advantages.
I kept getting more and more worried, for several honorary degrees do not make up for four years of good college work, none of which I ever did! I console myself at times by thinking that contacts with interesting and stimulating people, both here and abroad, have in some ways compensated for a more formal education. But that doesn't change the fact that I wish I had had those four extra years of good hard work.
This is a time so full of challenging situations for all of us, young and old, that my greatest difficulty is the sense of not being able to live up to the opportunities which present themselves to us all. If you do not grasp your own opportunities, what chance have you of stimulating anybody else so they will see and grasp theirs?
There were students from many countries at this conference, and I was interested in watching the different faces and wondering what the years of study here would do for them when they returned for work in their own lands. After all, education is only the preparation for earning your way in the world. Most of us have to earn our daily bread, but if one does not actually have to earn a living, everyone has the obligation to live so that he pays in some coin for his existence.
While I was at luncheon, a letter was sent to me, which had been brought from Italy. The bearer had been asked to deliver it to me in person. It was from a professor in a college in Milan who remembered a Christmas holiday which two girls spent in Rome years ago, and wrote to remind me of it. She had taken those two youngsters, one of whom was myself, out to see the city and to practice speaking Florentine Italian. The world is a small place, after all, isn't it?
I reached home at 5:00 o'clock and inveigled one of the busy ladies who never leave their desks because of our mail, into coming out to play badminton until we were both warm enough not to mind a dip into a very cold pool.
I expected to leave this morning for a trip around the state to visit NYA projects, but bad weather made it impossible, so I have a free day, which I shall put to good use.