My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MILWAUKEE —Negotiations are reportedly going on in Washington to bring about exchanges of students and other cultural groups between the Soviet Union and ourselves.

I hope agreements will be reached to send some of our young people to the Soviet Union, but they should go only if they already know the Russian language, since I think it is too great a handicap and means too much loneliness if they go without this instrument of friendship.

I am quite sure that any young Russians chosen to come over here will know the language well, and I wish we could increase the opportunities in this country for learning foreign languages, beginning in our primary schools. A language acquired by ear is easy to keep up, and it is certainly easier to learn when you are very young. And once you are in the habit of learning a foreign language, other languages come more easily.

I was in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday night and then went on to Milwaukee. Both places have given me my first taste of winter. I have seen snow covering the ground and wished that I was better prepared for it. I left home thinking we still had a considerable amount of autumn weather before us.

The American Association for the United Nations was fortunate last year to be able to put a young man, Al Lowenstein, to work in the field with our college councils. This opportunity was given us under a grant from Mrs. Mary Lasker in memory of John Golden, and I have often wished in the last few days, as I visited at Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and at Ann Arbor, Mich., that John Golden could see the spirit of the young people of college age who have been awakened to an interest in foreign affairs.

This is my first opportunity to see the results on the college campuses of the work done during the past year. Reading reports is never quite the same as actually seeing young people at work.

It was International Week at Ann Arbor, and they had a right to feel that this was an important week, for the university has 1,500 foreign students from 84 countries.

The week opened with a visit from Carl Sandburg, who evidently captured their imagination and gave them much to think about. I was there for the close and had the good fortune to see an international fair which the foreign students put on for this last day.

All during the evening students and people from the community crowded the exhibitions which different nationalities had prepared, and I was encouraged to see that the booths of young Arabs and young Israelis were close together and that there seemed to be little friction between them.

While people were going through and inspecting the products of the various lands, a show was going on in which dances, songs and music of different countries fascinated the audience.

International Week was a success, and our young Americans who worked hard to bring it about had every cause to be proud. This college council, I hope, increased its membership, and the interest in world affairs must have been heightened.

I had time on Saturday to visit some of the University of Michigan science laboratories and to see a reactor which enables the university to carry on much research in the field of the peacetime uses of atomic energy. This was built under a Ford Foundation grant and many of the post-graduate foreign students there are carrying on experiments side by side with our own young people.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Milwaukee (Wis., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 13, 1957

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.