AUGUST 7, 1944
HYDE PARK, Sunday—I still have to tell you about the morning I spent in New York City at the Horace Mann-Lincoln School, visiting the workshop which is one of some thirty that the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs sponsors in this country during the summer months.
First I saw a class for junior high school students in which teachers were also observing. The regular teacher, Senhora Maria Lourdes d' Sa Pereira of Brazil, had been taken ill, but her secretary, Senorita Ana Rodrigues from Puerto Rico, was doing an excellent job. The children sang for me in Portuguese and then got up and sang and danced the samba, quite evidently enjoying themselves.
They had a question and answer period, in which they talked about various subjects, designed to improve their vocabulary and to teach them something about Brazil. I went into the art room, where they are making maps, models of houses, and copying bits of weaving from different South and Central American countries—using art, in fact, as a medium for understanding the economics and cultures of various Central and South American nations.
One class of great interest to me, because it was composed of doctors, dentists, lawyers and engineers from Mexico, was being taught the English language by a Swiss. It was one of the most extraordinary teaching periods I have ever attended, because in the course of increasing the students' vocabulary and of telling them about slang phrases and their meaning, they discussed contemporary political questions, sports, history and art. It was really superlative teaching and I take my hat off to Mr. Frederick Rex, the instructor.
We attended one other class, for youngsters who had visited various foreign communities within the city of New York. They were casually asked how many of them had parents and grandparents born in a foreign country. Hands went up, and the list written on the blackboard began to grow. Finally, in that group of some 20 children, we discovered that not only many European countries, but South and Central American countries and Far Eastern countries were represented. Who do you think was the only child present who had ancestors born in this country as far back as she could trace them? A little colored girl!
Finally we had a luncheon, not only with the staff and teachers participating in the workshops sponsored by the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, but also with the staff members of the inter-cultural program run by Columbia University.
I enjoyed this opportunity very much and wish I could see whether the same type of thing, done in other parts of this country, stimulates the students as much as it seems to do here.