The French Fellowships began during the War as a means to attract American university minds to France---but this was not exactly the AFS perspective. The Field Service, even if composed of university students, had neither been an intellectual undertaking nor an academic adventure. "Tous et tout pour la France" speaks of enthusiasm and passion---and not the detached objectivity of a "Veritas" or "Lux."
I know scandalously little of the French universities, but I could ask no more enriching experience for any boy of mine than that he should count French men and women among his friends. I do not know what he might find in the lecture halls of the Sorbonne but I know what he would find between lectures. I would have him make friends among the Alpine hunters in their eyries above Grenoble I would have him stand wonder-struck before the most beautiful of all the mutilés---Rheims Cathedral. He should make his own pilgrimage to the graves that lie by Belleau Wood and he might do far worse than study philosophy from the wise old peasants and little tradesmen of Brittany. It will be worth his journey to stand on the Pont Neuf at night when the Seine is a necklace of winking riverlights and if he sits attentive at some boulevard café and watches French life as it streams by he may learn what life can be when it is thrifty and reasonable and simple and good.
It is difficult to think of a memorial to the American Field Service more fitting than this way of giving France to the youth of America.
Alexander Woolcott, AFS Bulletin, July 1921
Nonetheless, the Field Service adopted the French Fellowships as its own and threw itself into their promotion with its typical enthusiasm and passion. The War had ended and hopes were high. AFS was flush with pride. Now was a time to commemorate the past---to name a fellowship for each of AFS's war dead---and celebrate the future of Franco-American relations with these university exchanges.
Its new partner, the Society for American Fellowships in French Universities had not originally envisioned "exchanges," its purpose being to attract American students to France.
They determined to establish in memory of the heroes of your organization this Society which would establish Fellowships to enable American scholars to complete their education in France. [...]After a few years it is inevitable that as the result of the influences which you have set in motion, as the result of the enthusiasm of the American scholars whom you have sent to France, it will become the rule and not the exception, as it was before the war, that American scholars seeking to complete their education abroad will give the first choice to France.
Paul D. Cravath, President, AFS French Fellowships, AFS Bulletin, July 1921
But Piatt Andrew did not see it that way and"Exchange" was to be AFS's contribution . . .
What could be more fitting than that through all the years to come future generations of young Americans should be stimulated to go to France, to explore the fountains of her learning and to bring back sympathetic comprehension of her traditions and her traits, and that young men of France should reciprocally be enabled to study here our ways of thinking?
A. Piatt Andrew, AFS Bulletin, July 1921
Here was the seed of all AFS's future intercultural exchanges---and its first French, French Fellow---Pierre Lepaulle---came to Harvard Law School in the second year of the program.
"Great Expectations" for this new AFS adventure were raised that same year when Georges Clemenceau, after a speaking tour of the United States, contributed the proceeds to the Fellowship fund.
But then the honeymoon was over. AFS had spirit, but no longer an infrastructure on both sides of the Atlantic, ---no more organization to "make things happen". Economic conditions conspired to devalue the Fellowship funds which were maintained in French francs. And the young drivers moved on into their adult lives.
The truth is that there has been only a half-hearted response from the individual members of the Association. The total of the individual pledges from Field Service men received to date is about five thousand dollars. These pledges run from ten to six hundred dollars, but they represent a very small percentage of the men who have often declared their interest. Every time we send out an appeal it costs time, labor and money that should be spent for other activities of the campaign. Many men who have said that they would subscribe and who really intend to do so have simply put the matter off. This means another letter or even the effort of a personal solicitation. The cost of reprinting the pledge blank alone is an item that should be saved. IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN THE FELLOWSHIP PLAN; IF YOU WANT A PART IN THIS GREAT FOUNDATION WHICH IS ALREADY RENDERING INESTIMABLE SERVICE TO THE CAUSE OF INTERNATIONAL ACCORD; IF THE FIELD SERVICE MEANS ANYTHING TO YOU OTHER THAN A MEMORY---WON'T YOU PUT YOUR NAME ON THE ENCLOSED PLEDGE BLANK RIGHT NOW, AT THE PRESENT READING. Your support will not only save us the money which may be spent in further solicitation but it will give life to the whole effort. If you have the will to offer further help in this endeavor which is as much yours as it is that of any man in the Service. WON'T YOU GET IN TOUCH WITH THE CHAIRMAN OF YOUR BRANCH COMMITTEE AND OFFER HIM YOUR SERVICES? If you are not in a branch area, WON'T YOU TRY TO RAISE ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS YOURSELF AMONG YOUR FRIENDS, THE FRIENDS OF FRANCE OR ANY OTHERS WHO COULD BE INTERESTED IN THE FELLOWSHIPS?
Paul F. Cadman, "Report on the Fellowship Campaign", AFS Bulletin, March 1923.
After four years, the administration of the Fellowships was turned over to professional managers, the Institute for International Education, with AFS continuing to have a say in the choice of Fellows.
The first twenty years of what proved to be a very modest university exchange program was, above all, a learning experience for AFS veterans---a greater appreciation of an infrastructure such as had existed before militarization in 1917, a new ability to interact with a French civilian bureaucracy (the Office des Universités), a move towards hosting more French students in the "home country" than sending American professionals abroad to pursue their career...
|The Business of Fellowship: Great Expectations|
|The Participants: Pioneers|
|The Experience: Shades of Things to Come|