JANUARY 31, 1942
WASHINGTON, Friday—Yesterday afternoon, we had a reception for the students from the Republic of Colombia, some thirty strong, who have been taking special courses for the past two months at the University of Pennsylvania. They studied medicine, law, architecture, music and engineering. Though they are slightly handicapped by the language, they told me that they felt they profited by their experience here.
I invited some of the young people from the Office of Civilian Defense, and also from the Washington Bureau of the International Student Service, to help me to entertain them. They all seemed to get on very well together.
After they had gone, Mrs. Florence Kerr came with seventeen of her regional WPA supervisors, who sat down with me for half an hour and told me a little about the efforts they are making to reorient their program so that it serves purposes of defense. They are very proud of some of their projects, where great ingenuity has been exercised in making a change.
For instance, in one place, the workers have been busy making toys. They transformed themselves into a child care center and met a great need in the community, where there was a tremendous influx of industrial workers.
In the evening, we gave a dinner in the interests of the International Student Service. Dr. William A. Neilson presided and Dr. George Shuster, President of Hunter College, Mr. Archibald MacLeish and Mr. Michael Straight spoke. All presented the need for the work and what was being done, in a most convincing manner.
The question period brought from Mr. Joseph Lash several very good examples of actual work, which illustrated points made by the speakers. As they went out, the guests left me feeling they had spent an evening which was interesting and well worthwhile.
After a morning in the Office of Civilian Defense, I returned to the White House for the lunch we give to the movie stars, who come here for the President's birthday. It is always a very pleasant party. The group presented the President with a charming little remembrance, a small scottie, looking very jaunty, made of Copenhagen ware.
I do not know whether my husband feels any older as he celebrates his sixtieth birthday—he certainly does not look any older. He seems to be able to stand up under a load of work and anxiety which many a younger man would find difficult to bear.
Tonight, after the usual birthday dinner and attendance at two Birthday Balls, Miss Thompson and I take the train for Raleigh, North Carolina.