JULY 19, 1949
HYDE PARK, Monday—I drove over to Lakeville, Conn., on Sunday to attend a joint session of the Bennington and the Indian Mountain School summer session of the International Service Seminar under the Quaker auspices.
These sessions are attended by international groups. Some of them are undergraduate students and some are taking graduate courses, though they have been active in their respective fields for some time.
Liberia, Iran, Israel, Germany, Egypt, Siam, and many other nations were represented in the group. They planned to hold their meeting out-of-doors and I think they used the power of prayer to hold back the rain. Drops fell on us several times, but each time the director said to me: "We have just made up our minds it cannot rain. On that assumption we continued to stay out-of-doors and the rain never got beyond the few-drops stage! We sat out for the two hours of talk and discussion and it was not until we were on our way home in the car that the rain really began in earnest.
During the first week of this session these two groups have devoted their time to becoming acquainted with each other and learning to live together. They have already formed several study groups, each one doing research in a different field, and they will begin soon to meet in discussion periods to discuss the various findings.
The various groups are examining the basis of peace in the world, the place of religion, the opportunity for the individual to affect the things which most interest him and so on. Logically, they touch the questions such as: How does one go to work? Where does one put emphasis in order to achieve one's objective?
One woman asked me a question which, as her face revealed, came from the depth of her own experience. She said: "Why do we emphasize the differences that exist between various ideological theories, when, if we were really interested in peace, we should go to work to eliminate the causes that lead to war?" There were many more questions, most of which arose from personal experiences of individuals, and they covered a very wide field.
I had the good luck to have with me four boys from Brooks School in Massachusetts. Brooks is a private school, attended in large part by boys from the Eastern states, with a scattering number from other parts of the country. They are fortunate to have a teacher of English, Peter Wiener, who is interested in studying the United States and who invited four boys to go with him in his car on a trip through some of our Southern states. The boys saw a number of people in Washington in the government, all of whom had been kind and interested and gave them a considerable amount of time. This is the last day they were spending together and so it seemed quite fitting that they should go with me to this international meeting to round out their experiences.
They found it interesting, I think, and were full of conversation during the time they spent with us here at Hyde Park before taking an evening train back to New York City. Mr. Wiener must be a very interesting teacher for these young people; he is prepared to open windows on new ideas and let them go on from there.
The day was of value to me in what I got from the attitude of many of the foreigners and in the reactions of our own youth.