DECEMBER 12, 1947
GENEVA—This week the group in the Human Rights Commission which has been drafting a declaration of rights found themselves faced with the necessity of working until 7 p.m. on three evenings. This was because they decided last Saturday that they would prefer to take the afternoon off and then work extra hours this week.
However, I think they hoped I would forget about this agreement! When 6 o'clock came on Monday evening, the delegate from Panama told me that he wished to remind me that the rights of human beings were not being considered in the Commission on Human Rights. But when I reminded him of the group's agreement, the delegate from the Philippines said that one of the first human rights was the right to keep your word—so we worked until 7 o'clock.
Then I had to hurry, for I'd promised to have dinner with the students at International House and then speak in the Aula of the University of Geneva.
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International House is in the old town and is really a very fascinating old place. About thirty to forty students are able to live there. We had a nice time together at dinner. A young Frenchman, who'd been a sailor during the war and had the regular sailor's red whiskers, made a delightful speech in which he thanked the lady who runs the house as well as saying many graceful and charming things to me.
It felt very natural to be back among young people. Though the head of the university sat on one side of me, I'm afraid I talked a great deal more to the young German-Swiss who is head of the student body and who sat at my left, and also to a New York girl and Canadian boy who sat opposite me.
I found that these two were engaged to be married. She has been here two years and feels just as I did so many years ago when, after two years of school in England, I thought I never wanted to go home again. I wondered how I could ever be happy without my holiday trips to different countries and without the flavor of the Old World which I'd learned to love. However, I told this New York girl that, when she got back to America, she would find her experiences had made her better able to appreciate the values of things at home, though she would probably never forget the years she'd so much enjoyed over here.
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When I spoke at the university, the hall was packed with young people, sitting on the steps of the platform, on the floor in the aisles, and up to the very last row of the balcony. I talked briefly about the Human Rights Commission, and then for an hour they plied me with questions.
These students are serious, many of them graduate students. Some of them spent many years in the war and are resuming their studies after a very maturing experience. Their questions were thoughtful and intelligent, and I enjoyed every moment of the evening.
I was particularly glad afterwards to shake hands with a number of Americans. It seemed to me every part of our country was represented. I remember New York, Delaware, Ohio, Kansas, Washington, Arkansas and Texas.
How much they can learn from having been near countries where war has laid things waste—even though they are living in what really is a small isle of plenty in the midst of misery. Practically everything except food is more expensive here than at home—but things do exist. These young people are learning languages, making friends, studying economics, history and science—and everything they touch takes on something from the fact that they are in a university which has long had a tradition for high standards of scholarship.