My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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DELAWARE, Ohio , Sunday—I would like to quote from a letter I received the other day from my hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, for I am sure a similar situation to the one described must occur in many places.

"There are a group of White Russians here in Poughkeepsie who are trying desperately to build a church," writes my correspondent. "They number about 65 persons and have several young children. These people are fighting against great odds because they are Russian. Few Americans realize what these people have been through to be able to come and live in this country. Most of them have parents and relatives in Russia whom they will never see or hear from again and who will be punished and put to death because of the people here who chose to come here so that they might have freedom and so that their children and their children's children can worship God and enjoy the freedom that this country alone has to offer.

"They are at present holding services in the Greek Orthodox Church and have recently purchased an old barn. They have many wonderful plans for the future and have much to offer us here in the city and in the country, but they lack funds. There are many who resent these people and will not help them in any way. It is difficult to believe that in this wonderful country of ours there are still people, supposedly good Christian people, who frown upon the 'foreigners.' Somehow we must make people understand that this is one world and we are one people. My own ancestors settled in New Paltz, New York. They were French Huguenots and at that time we were 'foreigners.' At one time all of us were foreigners. When will we learn to help each other?"

We reached Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on Thursday night. We drove from Indianapolis and were fortunate to find the roads clear of snow until we reached the last few miles of our trip. Photographers awaited us, but there was very little time to give them for we had to be ready to go to one of the residence halls for an early dinner. As it was, we were actually half an hour late. The residence hall we were in housed about 500 girls. In the university there are 2,000 girls and 3,000 men.

After dinner we went to the gymnasium, where I spoke for an hour before a very good audience. We then adjourned to a much smaller room in another building. Students gathered there in considerable numbers, and for another hour I answered questions which I thought were as interesting as I have been asked by young people anywhere. On the drive over I had been prepared for the possibility that I might find myself confronted with some awkward questions, but I did not find any of them either malicious or antagonistic. It seemed to me they were generally seeking information and wanted as honest answers as one could give.

The university has a few foreign students, and one boy from Thailand and one from Lebanon came to speak to me afterwards. It was interesting to find that the one from Lebanon was named Malik and was a relative of Charles Malik, who has earned such high respect as an individual in the United Nations.

Western College, since this is its centennial year, is planning to enter into a new phase of its development and bring more students from foreign countries to its campus. It expects gradually to develop a curriculum which will increase the knowledge of its American students in the area of foreign cultures and prepare them for living in other parts of the world with greater understanding. This seems to me a most interesting adventure, and I certainly wish them every success.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Ohio (United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 18, 1954

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.