APRIL 9, 1962
WASHINGTON, D. C—Recently the Center for Information in America sent me a small news sheet called "Vital Issues" which discussed the problem of unemployment among youth and the possibility of creating a Youth Conservation Corps for the U. S. somewhat similar to the Peace Corps, which operates on a world scale.
I remember very well the forerunner of such a movement—namely, the CCC camps in the days of the depression. I imagine many of the boys who worked in forestry and soil conservation in the Far West or other areas of the country are not doing that kind of work today. Nevertheless it gave them a chance in their early years to build up physical stamina. No matter where they lived later on, I am sure the influence of the great open spaces and the forests they had come to know, as well as the actual physical labor, had a beneficial effect upon the way in which they lived their lives.
People sometimes think of a youth conservation corps today as simply a place where young criminals can be kept under supervision doing some useful work, thereby costing the nation less than they do now in regular penal institutions. I do not think this is the idea that people who advocate the Youth Conservation Corps really have in mind. They would of course be glad to take a certain number of youngsters in trouble who gave promise of profiting by an opportunity to work in this type of undertaking. But their main idea, I think, is to make the Youth Conservation Corps the answer for a youngster who has tried to get a job and found none available.
Such a youngster may not be getting what he finds useful in school, but he would like to contribute something to the upkeep of his home. Joining the proposed corps would be an opportunity to get to know his own country, to see more of it perhaps than he has ever had a chance to do, and at the same time to do useful work either in soil conservation or in forestry under expert tutelage. Possibly he will not follow these trades later on, but, like everything else we learn, they will be useful if he needs to turn to such skills at some future date.
Again, a youngster may well find that he prefers the country to the city and may decide to look for work permanently in rural areas. On the other hand, he may find that while this is a pleasant interlude he does not wish to live his life either in a small community or in a wholly rural environment. In either case, it is valuable to learn these things about oneself. I think it would probably save the country money if something of this kind were set up in conjunction with the Federal government departments.
Not long ago our former U. N. Ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, announced that the Institute of International Education, of which he is honorary chairman, will build a new center that will serve as international headquarters for students from every part of the world.
This is an important development concerning the education of foreign students in this country. We sometimes forget that there are almost 60,000 of these students, and it is not always sure that their needs are properly met while here. Some of them even go home embittered by the treatment they have received and with a distorted picture of the U. S. Although many of the students come here through the institute, the others also need assistance while here. It is hoped that the new center will enable the institute to expand its services so it can meet the needs of all these foreign students who, incidentally, are coming in greater numbers every year. Last year alone, the Institute of International Education arranged for almost 4,000 foreign students to come to this country, and sent abroad about 2,000 Americans.
At the present time every effort is being made to raise the $4,500,000 needed to build the 14-story center on the U. N. Plaza. The president of the institute, Kenneth Holland, is putting much of his effort into this endeavor. The new building will have an art center, a counseling service and centers of exchange for Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Although some foundations have already given generously, there is need for greater support. I think those who are interested in better communications with the people of the world will realize the value of this new institute center.