Early in January, 1969, a Memorandum to Trustee Members was written by President Arthur Howe, Jr., titled "Supranational Concepts in AFS." It is an excellent exposition of important considerations facing AFS during that period of its history; for logic and for vision it seems to me unsurpassed among AFS documents. Subsequent events have borne out much of Mr. Howe's argument. I submit it here as an important review and preview of policy development.
16 January 1969
To: Trustee Members
From: Arthur Howe, Jr.
Supra-national Concepts in AFS
This memo is designed as background for our Trustee Members discussions on 24-25 January 1969. I regret its lateness, but a combination of flu and other unforeseen circumstances has dislocated office operations in recent weeks. You will receive an oral report from me on a number of matters not included herewith which I had hoped to be able to comment on prior to our meetings.
The pretentious title of this memo suggests the problem of semantics in which I find myself involved. Many of the ideas I want to discuss were at least partially introduced in previous memos to the Trustee Members in January 1967 (International Concepts) and January 1968 (Change of Names), copies of which are enclosed.
In speaking of "Supra-national concepts," I continue my effort to share with the Trustee Members a number of ideas which seem to me important for the long range well-being of this organization. The aforementioned memoranda specifically mentioned factors making AFS a unique private organization with roots in many nations. In them I attempted to clarify why AFS is not just the American Field Service.
From the first days of the present scholarship program, descriptions of AFS purposes have included reference to either "International Understanding" or "understanding between peoples," or "peace." Though just as valid as ever, these words or phrases tend to be seen as elusive generalities--sometimes as hackneyed or do-goodish expressions of purpose--and I have felt the desirability of our explaining in some detail how AFS offers a remarkable educational opportunity having a dramatic impact on the personal and intellectual growth of students, host families and many others involved as voluntary workers or friends. Repeatedly, I have stressed my conviction that for a high percentage of our participants, both students and families, there is more positive growth of mind and spirit in a year than through any other experience these people will encounter. Our office receives frequent testimonials, and there are a few studies of a limited nature at our disposal, which suggest the validity of these assumptions, though of course they are hard to prove. Indeed, I would suggest that Harvard University has a hard job proving its effectiveness and that its distinction in the eyes of the world at large stems from the eminence of its graduates. So it must be, I suspect, with AFS if we are realistic.
I personally am ever more convinced that the outcome of our work is markedly and positively influencing the 4500 students who annually. participate, along with a commensurate number of host families and countless additional friends. We are equipping people to lead their personal lives with greater self-awareness and their social lives with greater compassion for the needs of others. Our Returnees demonstrate a greater than average sensitivity for complex relationships emerging in a shrinking world, and skill in living with differences, and discovering enrichment rather than frustration from them. The process we are concerned with represents an extension of identity and responsibility for each person involved in it, something appropriate to the realities of the second half of the Twentieth Century, and a process taught with unusual effectiveness by AFS.
For most students the immediate impact of an AFS year was of a personal nature. The quality of life in thousands of homes has been enriched. As increasing numbers of Returnees assume positions or political activities, the influence of our program reaches into the lives of communities and nations throughout the world. My faith is that these people deeply influenced by our program are unusually equipped and motivated to grapple with the great issues producing tensions in a divided world. Thus I believe our educational venture becomes clearly related to our objective of creating a peaceful world.
Such a discussion of our objectives carries us into the supra-national area. Repeatedly, I have stated that half of all we do is overseas, not just in America. Loyalty and continuing support of volunteers throughout the world is dependent on our constant recognition of this reality. Nothing would more quickly undermine this basic strength than to allow AFS in imagery of fact to become an activity concentrating on the narrowly defined, immediate interest of any single nation or ideological group or block of nations. Our purposes must be related to common needs of all mankind, and centered on individuals rather than political entities.
In pursuit of such objectives we must, like any supra-national body, try to avoid involvement in domestic politics or international rivalries. So I ask the Trustee Members to endorse the policy that we not authorize AFS to enter into activities, or take positions, however righteous they may appear to some part of our constituency, that seem destined to undermine the pursuit of our larger purposes.
I want to be realistic both about the present nature of AFS and about the fact that an activity of any sort which cuts across national lines has, in the eyes of many, political implications. Our operations may indeed be seen as a series of bilateral programs relating the U.S.A. to each of 60 overseas nations, though I have tried in this and previous memoranda to outline implications that extend our work and purposes far beyond this relatively narrow concept. I also recognize that our program may have some bearing on the values and activities of participants vis-a-vis relationships between their own nations and the U.S.A. But always I would stress that the things learned and the motivations required are applicable in a far broader range of international or intercultural relationships than may immediately appear. I believe our programs have been successful in. promoting concepts and providing a kind of educational experience which each participating country can recognize as being in its national interest, and therefore, can reasonably support, even though they are conducted by a private agency not directly subservient to any nation.
In asking for the endorsement of the Ministry of Education of each country where we operate (and often we have also to get the approval of the Foreign Office) we have recognized political realities. At the same time, we have preserved the objective of administering AFS through private citizens, wherever and however possible.
When exceptions occur, they stem from conditions we are not immediately able to overcome, but our objective to seek as soon as possible private and indigenous national administration is firmly established. Persons required by their public position to promote a relatively narrow nationalistic purpose which may compromise the larger, more general, objectives have not been long involved in AFS administration or policy determination.
Steering our course through the aforementioned areas has produced controversy with some of our Returnees, particularly as they detect compromises we accept in working within the established order of local custom or national government. Though I am in personal agreement with many of the objectives these Returnees support, I generally feel we overextend ourselves when we try to operate in opposition to local custom, unless there are conditions destroying our ability to provide a positive experience for a student and family. Not infrequently we are urged to adopt procedures that would produce Pyrrhic victories. AFS cannot be all things to all people. Nor can we successfully pursue our general objectives while trying along the way to solve all the ills of the world . The danger of diffusion of our limited energy and resources is always present, and there is much we cannot change.
This is not to say that AFS should be neutral on all social issues. But the test for organizational involvement should be whether a particular situation affects our programs' ability to provide a secure and rewarding opportunity for learning by a student, family and school.
It is desirable that we give as much leeway as possible to individual committees or national organizations to pursue specific objectives which are in the local or national interest and can constructively be related to operations. Most AFS organizations around the world have long wished to broaden the socio-economic group of AFS participants (students, host families, and volunteer workers alike) and have with AFS/International's full support pursued these objectives with considerable success. Some committees or countries have, however, adopted policies which in effect lead to restricted participation in AFS, this being done in ways and for reasons of their own determination. Our staff quickly becomes aware of these actions and questions them when we feel the overall purposes or reputation of AFS might be jeopardized, or when the experience of individual participants seems likely to be adversely influenced. Such intervention calls for broad, often discretionary judgment, and certainly not automatic agreement with every shrill voice of protest or every silent voice of compliance.
An extension of these questions arises when a specific country wants AFS to adapt its program to, for example, the technical needs of the country as interpreted by its manpower specialists. We are anxious to help within the range of our capacity to do so effectively, and whenever we can proceed without distortion of the general purposes to which we are committed. We are planning and experimenting in this area, and gradually are defining perimeters for our involvement.
Within the U.S.A. there is interest on the part of many Returnees to make AFS participation possible for more ghetto children and schools. Here too we are testing opportunities that can make AFS more relevant to our major internal issue in the U.S.A., but always we must proceed with respect for the needs of both parts of an AFS experience. I have offended some people by suggesting that neither I nor they would, short of necessity, send our children to a so-called ghetto school. Was it reasonable to place a Swiss AFS student in such a situation? Recognizing there are many inherent problems in such placements, we also know there is much more we can do than we have hitherto, and with the whole-hearted cooperation of the staff and a number of Returnee groups and Chapters, the AFS seeks more activity in the urban centers of the nation. In the process, we must recognize that we should not divert a major portion of the time of the AFS/International staff or the funds of the whole organization toward a specific problem of the U.S.A. What we do within this country, we must be prepared, in general, to support in others.
Quite apart from the necessity of AFS' being free to act outside the framework of political pressures, and the desirability of its not concentrating its resources on a program designed solely to serve a specific nation, the composition of our Trustee Members and administrative staff must also be a matter of concern to all of us. As a self perpetuating group of Trustee Members, we should affirm for the guidance of our Nominating Committee a desire to broaden the traditionally largely American management of the organization's affairs. Two years ago, we started the process of broadening our membership, and I hope we agree that further movement in this direction is desirable, so that our Trustee Membership gradually becomes more representative of all the support and all the purposes of our far-flung activities. Along a comparable line of development, I would like to know I have the Trustee Members' backing in my efforts to move toward the creation of an international secretariat for the administration of AFS here in our International Headquarters, where the scattered operations of AFS are coordinated, and in our offices throughout the world.
The policies I am recommending for endorsement by the Trustee Members should not be construed to be a back-door effort to seek approval for what is called the "multi-national program" concept. This is not my purpose, and specifically I record my belief that we are not at the moment equipped organizationally, financially, personnel-wise or policy-wise to take such a step. This is, however, a subject deserving our continuing study, which indeed it is receiving from a number of groups in AFS/International, as well as from numerous Returnee groups overseas and in the U.S.A. I have repeatedly stated my conviction that at the right time and under the proper circumstances we should encourage multi-national programs, whether under the banner of AFS itself or through an international federation of organizations, utilizing our unique experience and organization structure to fulfill genuine need. I would betray a great many Returnee volunteers both here and abroad were I to fail to state that for a significant number of intelligent, deeply committed AFS friends this is a matter of high priority.
I should also mention in this review of some of the broader implications of AFS operations and policy that I am disappointed that our UNESCO application was deemed inappropriate and was withdrawn last spring on the advice of UNESCO officials. We shall continue to study the matter and may at some future date be able to reactivate it. The groundwork for doing so would be strengthened by Trustee Members' endorsement of the policies I have previously outlined.
Finally, I urge you to consider once again my previous suggestion for a change of the name of our organization. My thoughts are outlined in the attached memorandum on the subject. I fear that by postponing action, we merely increase the difficulty of some future decision and implementation. Having solicited comment from people wherever I traveled during the past year, I have not come up with a suggestion that appeals to me more than my original one, though I do feel that the recommended name should be in the singular, rather than in the plural as first proposed: "Associated Field Service," not "Associated Field Services." Possibly the Trustee Membership will feel this is a matter of such far-reaching implication and of such lasting significance that there is need for further study. My chief interest is in bringing this matter to a head and reaching a decision on it, whether the change be in accordance with my suggestion or to some other name that will overcome the limitations that I sense in our present name."
The U.S. Returnees Association continued during this year of 1969 to gain in strength and in the degree of its involvement in program operations. The Returnees were trying to mold their own future, and by vigorous expression of their position on matters of policy and by increasing participation in operations were, with the hearty concurrence of the AFS Administration, becoming an important source of strength to the organization. In policy matters, the Returnees had adopted the diversity drive as their primary goal. The Executive Board of the U.S. Returnee Association had adopted in November, 1968 two proposals, one relating to diversity and the other to its role and its responsibility to AFS:
Be it resolved that the U.S. Returnee Association endorses the proposition that Americans Abroad placements and American host families must represent the broadest spectrum of the American society. Bearing in mind the decentralized structure of AFS, the U.S. Returnee Association urges that every effort be made to obtain qualified placements and host families from a diversity of economic, religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
To promote this resolution, the U.S. Returnee Association offers its services and resources and specifically suggests that it engage in the following: 1) investigate urban public and parochial school systems regarding the formation of new Chapters; 2) meet with AFS Chapter/Divisional representatives to discuss the desirability of such diversity; 3) conduct seminars, conferences and workshops involving AFSers from overseas, American host brothers/sisters, U.S. Returnees and representatives of the several diverse groups; 4) consider the possibilities of soliciting expanded Returnee contributions to AFS/International earmarked for the purpose of obtaining this diversity.
Proposal on the Executive Board and the U.S. Returnee Association:
It is the responsibility of the U.S. Returnee Association to involve its members in meaningful activities which will promote the purposes and ideals of AFS/International Scholarships on both the International and the domestic levels, and, to express these purposes and ideals on a regional and local basis. Members are urged to fulfill this responsibility through their initiative and creativity and through the regional college and city Returnee organizations.
It is the function of the Executive Board of the U.S. Returnee Association to. a) represent its members and their regional city and college organizations; b) serve as the medium for the exchange and development of Returnee programs, projects, and suggestions; c) establish national policy for the U.S. Returnee Association and pursuant there to stimulate, review and support the projects and programs of the respective regional city and college organizations, and where appropriate, to discuss relevant proposals, programs, and projects with the President, the Board of Directors and Trustee Members of AFS/International Scholarships.
Functionally, the Returnees had successfully planned and operated the first Regional Screening of Americans Abroad candidates in Wisconsin and were now involved in extending this very effective procedure to parts of California, and to the District of Columbia area.
The Trustee Members, largely in response to the urging of the U.S. Returnees but also as a result of their own convictions, had appointed a special Diversity Committee. In addition, the Program Committee of the Board of Directors, Isaac Patch, Chairman, had recommended that a statement be prepared stating the position regarding diversity to be included in all program publications. At the request of the Committee, Mr. William Orrick, Vice President for Programs, had prepared such a statement:
"The American Field Service strongly urges the Chapters to include in their membership representatives of every segment of the community. Race, creed, social standing and economic capability are not measures of fitness for service to the program nor for participation in its benefits. Specific efforts to reach out to minority groups and economically deprived elements of our society will add substantially to the significance of our program."
The statement was approved by the Board as fairly representing the position of AFS.
Program numbers in 1969-1970 showed 3025 WP students compared with 3040 in 1968-1969, increases from 425 to 547 in the School Program and from 1015 to 1195 in the Summer Program. South Africa and Yugoslavia received Summer Program students for the first time, and Indonesia returned to AFS after an absence of six years. In an attempt to instill new vigor in the development of Chapters, Mr. Mark Felton, New York staff member and Americans Abroad student to Spain in 1961, was appointed Assistant Director for Chapter Relations.
Continuing the schedule of Overseas Regional Conferences, a Pacific and East Asian Conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand, from the 9th to the 14th of March, 1969. Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, India, Japan, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Laos sent representatives; Mr. Robert Thayer, AFS Director of Governmental Relations, Dr. William Brown, Jr., Chairman of the U.S. Returnee Executive Board, attended and six New York staff members--Bill Orrick, Stanley Smith, Val Sandberg, Ellen Reicher, Kim White, and Hugh O'Neill.
A different kind of AFS Conference took place in October, 1969, in Lillehammer, Norway, for the European Representatives and Chairmen of AFS National Committees. Whereas the Bangkok Conference and in fact most preceding Regional Conferences dealt largely with such "nuts and bolts" of the program as selection, family finding, and counseling, the Norway conference was generally devoted to a broader spectrum of subjects concerning the goals of AFS. Significantly, the agenda spoke more to the relevancy of the program to the needs of the world than the day-to-day operations. "Relevance " was to be the keynote of European Returnee meetings for the next several years.
The Executive Board of the U.S. Returnee Association had recently held its semiannual meeting in Chicago. The nature of the structural relationship between the Association and AFS International was discussed. How best could the Association promote the interests of the program--as a separate legal entity or as an integral part of the AFS structure? Another concern was fund-raising. The Returnees wished to concentrate their efforts toward one goal. Their fund-raising theme for 1970, they decided, was to be diversification, i.e., the procurement of funds for program involvement of economically disadvantaged students and families.
Social and political issues were bringing pressures to bear on AFS. In Brazil an AFS student had received a kidnapping threat; in Chile an AFSer had been roughly handled by a Communist student group. U.S. families questioned the wisdom of sending Americans Abroad students to Laos. An AA in Latin America had been severely wounded by a man wielding a machete. (In this instance it was never demonstrated that this attack was motivated by anti-American feeling.)
In the United States, an Italian student was caught in the middle of a racial melee in his high school; a white student living with a black family received threats from militants in his area. Each of these cases had to be worked out individually, with the involvement of student, host family, and natural parents in the final decision.
In Sweden, American students with strong political feelings wished to affiliate with a pro-Vietnamese Organization there. Mrs. Ulla Rudberg, AFS Representative in Sweden, turned to President Arthur Howe, Jr. for guidance in handling this delicate situation. Mr. Howe's reply, below, became a significant policy-making document in this and succeeding situations.
5 November 1969
Your letter of October 21 raises some difficult questions for you and us and the students. We have been encountering pressures here, too, and there have been incidents in the U.S.A. that have also caused a good deal of concern.
I believe we must initially take a basic position with students that they are free to follow their own conscience, but, they must also be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions. As a student decides the course he will follow, he should think carefully about the several roles that he plays:
a. as a foreign visitor in Sweden
b. as a member of AFS
c. as a person who has been received freely in a host family
d. as a person who has been supported by his U.S. family, school, and AFS Chapter in being given the opportunity to be in Sweden
e. as an individual
Whether or not it is comfortable to have to consider all these different roles, the AFS student assumes an obligation for recognizing each of them when he decides to accept participation in such a complex activity as our Americans Abroad program. I believe each student, upon reflection, would agree that some compromise of what might be his wishes as an isolated individual is necessitated by the acceptance of social or organizational relationships of any kind.
With reference to being an AFS student, the individual is in a program primarily dedicated to the development of understanding between people, the expansion of awareness of one's self and the expansion of compassion for others. We seek to establish the basis for learning; we have as an organization tried earnestly to avoid embroilment in political or social controversy, while encouraging students upon their return home to seek ways of utilizing whatever insights they have gained, in such ways as each feels appropriate. There are many good people of conflicting social and political views who are united in supporting AFS, and they remain united partly at least because the organization pursues this apolitical position. For AFS as an organization to take a stand on partisan, ideological issues would introduce a divisive element between segments of our volunteer constituency, on whom we are totally dependent. And division is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.
A current student in the program should, in my opinion, do more listening than talking, seeking to understand and to be understood, seeking in effect to share ideas rather than imposing them on others in a host country. There is a good deal of evidence to suggest that the kind of cultural exchange we promote cannot be combined with what will inevitably be seen as propaganda once people clearly identified as current participants or acting AFS groups move into the public arena.
Additionally I feel a greet deal depends on the attitude of one's host family, school, and community. An AFS student is in some sense, though often regrettably, a guest. When I am in such a relationship, I often find it necessary just to listen to and let pass much with which I disagree. Nothing positive would be achieved by my doing otherwise, though the line between courtesy and hypocrisy is always hard to establish. Generally, however, when courtesy and integrity reach the point of being irreconcilable, I have concluded I should withdraw from the relationship I have accepted as a guest, rather than taking action that I predict will prove offensive to my host.
Finally I believe a great deal depends on how a student presents his protest or disagreement. Style can be more important than substance in determining whether one causes offense. The setting, and the degree to which one appears as an individual in a family group rather than being seen as a representative of something more general will often determine the proper limits of action.
In summary, I could imagine situations in which a student might reasonably take membership in the N.L.F. organization, attend meetings, participate openly in discussions, and participate in lawful protest without exceeding reasonable bounds. And on the other hand, I suspect there are many situations in which he could do few or none of these things without first owing it to himself and his hosts to withdraw from his relationship with them. Otherwise, if his actions become too offensive to his hosts, his school, and his community, and ultimately involve the apolitical posture of AFS, he might have to be withdrawn from the program.
I know all this is vague and am sorry, but it represents what I would try to say to a student who consulted me on these matters. Inherent in my comments is the belief that there is no easy, externally provided answer to these questions. Please feel free to use my thoughts in any way that you think will be helpful.
Arthur Howe, Jr.
P.S. There is still a final consideration that probably applies only to students from a few countries, not specifically to Americans Abroad. This is the danger that their own Governments will be offended by their political activism while overseas, leading to penalties of a subtle or even overt type upon their return home. This is a point I would feel obliged to call to the attention of Winter Program students.
Political dissension in other countries, notably Turkey and Japan had an effect on AFS operations. Differences of political opinion led to rifts within the Returnee organization. As far as possible, AFS tried to work without taking a political position while, at the same time coping with the fact that strong differences of opinion did exist among those responsible for the operation of the programs.
At the 9 December 1969 meeting of the Board of Directors, announcement was made of the projected retirement of Dorothy Field in the Spring of 1970 and the return of Margaret Kelleher to California. These two had been deeply involved in AFS for many years---Dot Field since the days of the Field Serve and Margaret Kelleher as one of the prime movers in establishing the Scholarship Program in California.
Hugh Kelleher had been a member of the Field Service. He and Margaret were in business in Vermont when Hugh was called to Washington in 1950 to take a position in the U.S. Government. Margaret, looking around for something to occupy her, found that AFS had a committee and a program in the District and went to work as a volunteer, primarily arranging benefits. In 1952 the Kellehers went to California to the San Francisco area, and Steve Galatti asked Margaret to work on expanding the program. When she started working there were only three students in the area; when she resigned, in 1959, there were 179!
Some years later, after Hugh Kelleher died, Steve asked Margaret to come to New York and manage the International Headquarters office. She agreed, returned June 1, 1964, and stayed on until 1969.
Dot Field, of course, was one of the great figures in AFS, working in the office throughout World War II, and involved with the Scholarship Program from its very inception. Dot performed a number of functions throughout the years, but probably her best role was as a counselor and confidante to the students. Her name appears many times in this history, and the members of the Field Service have shown their affection for Dot by giving her life membership; she appears at almost every reunion of the Drivers. Between times, though into her eighties, Dot continues to climb mountains, and is an inveterate world traveler.
Interestingly, Mrs. Field and Mrs. Kelleher are today near neighbors in the same California community.
As of the end of 1969, the officers of the Corporation were:
Arthur Howe, Jr. - President
William P. Orrick - Vice President
E.F.L Backer - Treasurer
Robert Applewhite -Secretary
J.H. Hargis - Assistant Treasurer
An Important Meeting
On January 23, 1970 the Annual Meeting of the Trustee Members convened in New York City. Of the 31 Members attending, 6 came from countries other than the U.S.; two others from abroad were unable to attend. Various administrative staff members were present, including the Regional Coordinators of Europe, Latin America, Middle East/Africa, and Asia/Pacific.
The important themes of the Annual Meeting were:
1. The Role of the AFS in Developing Countries. It was noted that of the 3,027 Winter Program students from 61 countries, 1771 came from 24 highly developed countries, 855 from 17 Latin American countries (of which about half came from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile); the remaining 401 students came from 20 countries widely distributed throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Of the Americans Abroad participants about 25% went to developing countries. Contributing to the relatively small members to and from developing countries were the high cost-low income factors and the relative newness of the Returnee Organizations there. The consensus of the meeting was that greater effort should be made to overcome these difficulties and to increase the numbers of participants in developing countries without a compensating cutback in the long established programs in European countries.
2. The Multi National Program. In response to a memorandum from Mr. Stanley M. Smith, Director of Overseas operations, the Trustee Members, after a somewhat lengthy discussion, unanimously authorized the President to establish a pilot MNP to be structured and operated commensurate with the standards of the other International Scholarship Programs.
3. The name of the Corporation. This much debated question, prompted by some anti-American sentiment in various parts of the world, was for the time being put to rest by a resolution directing the President and Board of Directors to establish "AFS International Scholarships" as the public name of the Corporation, to be used in all public dealings which "shall not require the usage of the legal name of the Corporation."(15)
4. Diversity. As the questions of the MNP and the official name of the Corporation continued to concern Returnees abroad, so the question of "diversity" was by far the overriding concern of the U.S. Returnees.
In response to insistent demands from Returnees the Trustee Members had in January, 1969, established a committee "of Staff Members, Americans Abroad Returnees, and others to study the participation of minority groups in all aspects of the American Field Service and to report its findings to the Trustee members at the earliest possible moment," and further expressed their support of the President, the Staff, and the Board in their effort to achieve greater diversity among participants in all American Field Service Programs. The Administration was urged to explore new ways of achieving this is objective.
The Diversity Committee, consisting of eleven members, Mrs. Robert Worth, Chairman, met monthly during the year, and established six sub-committees which explored various aspects of AFS operations. In all, 40 persons served on the committees and interviewed numerous other staff members, volunteers, Trustee Members, Directors, and Returnees. The resultant report covered 30.pages and contained not only the "study" and "report" called for by the Trustee Members, but also sixty-four specific recommendations.
The Diversity Committee
Mrs. Robert Worth, Chairman -- Trustee Member and Director, former AFS staff member.
Clifford M. Baacke, Secretary -- AFS staff member (Assistant to the President), Returnee.
Mrs. Thelma Brown -- AFS staff member (Divisional Director, Metropolitan New York Division).
Norman C. Eddy -- Trustee Member and Director, World War H Driver.
Mark Felton -- AFS staff member (Director of Chapter Relations), Returnee.
Mrs. John Flood -- Returnee, Member U.S. Returnee Association Executive Board, Field Representative.
Lawrence V. Levine -- Returnee, former Member U.S. Returnee Association Executive Board, in absentia since April 1969 for Peace Corps assignment in Brazil.
Theodore O. Mason -- Returnee, host brother.
Mrs. Robert Nadel -- Field Representative.
Mrs. Guerin Olivola -- Former Field Representative, in absentia since August 1969 due to family move to San Francisco.
Miss Kim White -- AFS, staff member (Director, Summer Program, Americans Abroad).
Abstract The Report of the Trustee Members' Committee
on Diversity in the AFS Programs
In its full report to the Trustee Members of American Field Service, Inc., the Diversity Committee concluded that much relating to diversity in AFS has been ignored, overlooked or assumed being done---but actually undone. The outlook of the organization has been largely white, middle-class, and suburban. At the same time, the goal or diversity is inherent in the basic concept of AFS. It is the committee's belief that AFS has an obligation, both to its history and to the current world, to press forward with boldness and idealism in opening doors which we now know are shut. The task can be done if the institution begins listening and commits itself and its resources to answering. The AFS obligation is also a significant opportunity.
The past year has seen some important steps taken to rectify the lack of diversity, but these steps are not enough and are too little known by the general constituency. Among the recommendations of the Diversity Committee for further action are:
1. AFS must eliminate the double standard of thinking and operating which now exists in many parts of the program and begin to apply standard, uniform policies throughout all AFS activities. 2. The position which AFS takes on diversity must be widely communicated to its staff, its volunteer committees and all of its world-wide associates. Changes of attitudes and operating procedures come only from direct open discussion of the subject. 3. There must be more experimentation in support of AFS diversity objectives, and the Board of Directors could support such experimentation by making more widely known the willingness of the organization to permit pilot projects and other research. 4. Although most of the activity toward greater diversity should be channeled through existing program structure, the Diversity Committee should be continued as a working committee of the Board of Directors, to maintain an overview of AFS efforts and conduct further study. 5. Changes are necessary in the fee structure of the Americans Abroad Programs and in the terms of eligibility for Americans Abroad in order to correct two built-in drawbacks to diversity. 6 The corporation itself must do more to broaden and diversify the Trustee Membership and the Board of Directors, both in terms of minority group representation and internationalism. 7. AFS will need to commit both personnel and financial resources to the diversity effort, including the mounting of a further development effort and the filling of at least three additional staff positions.
The Trustee Members unanimously passed the following resolution:
RESOLVED, that the Trustee Members of American Field Service, Inc., accept with deep appreciation the Report of the Committee on Diversity and enthusiastically support the objectives of its recommendations; and further that the Trustee members direct that a special meeting of the Board of Directors be held before the end of February to review the recommendations of the report with a view to their implementation; and further that the Trustee Members direct that a Committee on Diversity be continued as a working committee reporting directly to the Board of Directors.
Program Matters 1969-1970
In program statistics, Winter Program placements of 3027 students represented 70 percent of the 4655 final applications received in New York from around the world; Americans Abroad numbers continued to increase, 1195 in the Summer Program and 457 in the School Program. There was concern, however, over the decrease of 200 in family applications for the Winter Program of 1969-70, and over the fact that 70 WP students had been placed through chapter subsidies amounting to $45,000 underwriting placements of 2nd or 3rd students in chapters with additional available families.
Changes in country participation included El Salvador for the first time and the suspension of the Swaziland program for one year. New AA countries were Honduras and Portugal in the School Program and Ceylon and South Africa in the Summer Program; returning to the Summer Program were former participants Indonesia, Denmark, and Singapore.
Regional Screening of Americans Abroad applicants continued to grow, now including Wisconsin, Northern California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Regional Placement of Americans Abroad in some European countries was scheduled to take place in Brussels with the assistance of Dale Miller from the New York office; Finland and Italy would place their AA's by sending their representatives to New York to make the placement.
A Regional Office had been established in San Jose, Costa Rica, administered by Jose Ramon Chavarria, to service the programs in Central America and Panama.
Divisional Conferences were held in Lake Mohonk, New York, and Portland, Oregon, for Field Representatives and Headquarters staff members of A Division (New England, New York State, and parts of the Middle Atlantic and Midwestern areas), M Division (Greater New York area), and the Northwestern part of D Division. Such conferences were part of a schedule of training and refresher programs for volunteer AFS workers in the "field."
The Midway program and End-of-Stay plan were revised to slow down the pace of the bus trip, to include host families and staff in more activities, and to lengthen community bus stops to give students a more in-depth picture of different communities. Four conference centers were established for Boston, Denver, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.
The Diversity Question
A Special Meeting of the Board of Directors was convened on 19 February 1970, to review in detail the Report of the Committee on Diversity.
In preparation for this important meeting, Chairman Ward B. Chamberlin, Jr., had distributed a lengthy memorandum dealing with specific recommendations of the Diversity Committee.
|To:||Board of Directors|
|From:||Ward B. Chamberlin, Jr., Chairman|
|Ref.||Special Meeting of the Board of Directors on Thursday, 19 February 1970, at 2:30 p.m.|
By instructions of the Trustee Members, the special meeting of the Board on 19 February will be devoted exclusively to a review of the recommendations in the "Report of the Trustee Members' Committee on Diversity."
Although there are a great many recommendations in the Report, I feel we should deal with each one of them in one way or another. Many of the recommendations can be grouped together where similar Board of Administration action seems appropriate. Other recommendations will require individual attention. Where some discussion and/or implementation of a recommendation has already taken place, a summary of action for your possible comment seems sufficient.
Therefore, in order to facilitate discussion, I propose that the recommendations in the Report be divided into the following four categories:
I. Recommendations already in effect or in various stages of discussion and/or implementation--see page 2. II. Recommendations which require further study by the Diversity and/or other committees--see page 3. III. Recommendations which primarily involve Administration development, experimentation and, where feasible, implementation--see page 3. IV. Recommendations individually requiring Board action--see page 6.
The categories listed above are not meant to inhibit the Board's discussion of a particular recommendation nor to preclude our arrival at an entirely different proposal.
I am sending a copy of this memorandum to the Trustee Members as it would be most helpful to have comments on the Report and the proposals set forth in this memorandum from the entire membership.
(Mr. Chamberlin's memorandum included 60 individual items recommended by the Committee.)
Mr. Howe had also written a message for distribution to all the AFS constituency:
30 January 1970
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
During the past several years, a great deal has been written, said, and done about opening participation in programs to all qualified students and host families, regardless of their social or economic circumstances in the U.S. or overseas. A Committee on Diversity was charged by the AFS Trustee Members at their 1969 meeting to undertake a year's study and to report its findings at the 1970 meeting. The report was presented at the recent Trustee Members' meeting, and its intent warmly approved. It was further directed that the Board of Directors meet in the near future to consider specific proposals and their enactments.
I should like to call your attention to the following statement from the report, approved by our Directors for inclusion in all AFS program publications:
The American Field Service strongly urges the Chapters to include in their membership representatives of every segment of the community. Race, creed, social standing and economic capability are not measures of fitness for service to the program; nor for participation in its benefits. Specific efforts to reach out to minority groups and economically deprived elements of our society will add substantially to the significance of our program.
While the concept of Diversity touches almost every aspect of AFS everywhere, I believe that changes in recent years have influenced the Winter Program primarily, and that the first administrative action should be directed toward long-standing concern over the Americans Abroad basis for participation and fees. I have directed that action be taken at once in this regard and in support of the intent of several of the report's proposals in order that we move forward with all haste in the direction to which the spirit of the document points us. We have an opportunity to act in support of a widely shared social responsibility, and it is my feeling that forward motion in this area will strengthen AFS world-wide, while enriching the experience of all involved in its activities.
In the belief that our initial response should affect student participation, Americans Abroad requirements have been broadened. In addition to the two candidates each of our participating eligibility may submit, those Chapters inactive for not more than two years and which have preserved a structure of personnel with whom we can work may submit in the fall of 1970 one nominee for the Americans Abroad programs. Those schools not now affiliated with our regular programs, but which participate this spring in one of the Short-term Exchanges for our overseas students, will also be eligible to submit one applicant.
I have also proposed that we immediately offer fifteen Americans Abroad scholarships to students with the assistance of a social agency working with less privileged elements of our society. To implement this proposal for the 1970 Summer Program and/or the 1970-71 School Program will require close staff and volunteer cooperation with a nearby agency, and we shall accordingly begin this in New York City. Later, it is hoped, this effort can be introduced in other places.
Because every new undertaking should bear the possibility of becoming self-sustaining, or at least of developing its own sources of support rather than being dependent on current sources or terminal grants, I propose the establishment of an Opportunity Fund from which monies would be available to underwrite our efforts to widen the scope of participation in the AFS programs. My hope is that U.S. Returnee enthusiasm for this commitment will result in significant Returnee support for the fund and that this support will be augmented by corporate and foundation gifts in addition to special gifts from U.S. Chapters which wish to express their approval for the commitment and to aid actively in its fulfillment.
The Opportunity Fund will also be a source from which financial aid could be granted those Americans Abroad applicants who lack both personal resources and the Chapter assistance needed to meet the Americans Abroad participation fee. It could additionally provide support for our Short-Term Exchange programs, temporary reductions of normal Chapter fees in connection with the opening of new Chapters in economically deprived areas, salaries for staff additions directly involved with the Diversity effort, the expenses of meetings and travel in connection with such new undertakings, and the special Americans Abroad scholarships administered with the help of outside agencies.
In order to sustain a number of efforts already under way at AFS/Int'l, as well as to promote the foregoing programs, I am authorizing the appointment of an additional staff member who will be concerned with much that we are doing in the Short-Term Exchanges, the new Americans Abroad activities, and the creation of an Opportunity Fund. In this latter capacity, he will serve as liaison with the Development Office in preparation of case materials for appeals to corporations, foundations and individual donors.
The support given by individual Chapters to these efforts to diversify and enrich AFS programs will determine their success. Overseas AFS organizations have indicated their commitment to these same objectives. Supported by continuing efforts to "expose and involve" AFS participants wherever they are placed in our programs, the steps we now take can add a new vitality and outreach to basic procedures that have produced a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people throughout the world.
Arthur Howe, Jr.
The Board discussed at great length both the contents of the Chairman's memorandum and the President's Message. Strong support was voiced for steps already taken to increase diversity in AFS. One cautionary note was uttered in Finance Committee Chairman Benjamin Strong's report, in which he called attention to financial limitations inherent in the AFS finances and in the inflationary trend of the U.S. and the world economy.
Two substantive Board resolutions, however, were passed:
RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors strongly endorses a policy of experimentation and development of AFS activities in support of diversification and further authorizes and encourages the Administration to continue its present efforts in this direction and, where administratively feasible and financially possible either through the raising of additional funds or the reallocation of existing resources, to undertake experimentation and pilot projects in current as well as new areas of diversification.
RESOLVED, that the Nominating Committee of the Trustee Members be, and hereby is, requested to study the recommendations of the Diversity Committee pertaining to the enlargement and/or the change in the Membership structure of the AFS and its Board of Directors and to report their recommendations at the September 1970 meeting of the Board.
On 17 March by resolution the Board of Directors appointed a Diversity Committee of 11 members to continue with the effort to increase diversity in AFS. Mrs. Robert R. Worth was Chairman.
Mr. Howe had recently returned from a trip to Ghana, Uganda, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. He had observed, in addition to some individual problems facing AFS in those countries, common problems---restlessness and resistance to conformity. Adjustments, therefore, during an experience such as the AFS had become more than ordinarily difficult and complex.
The report to the Board of Mr. William Orrick, Vice President for Programs, emphasized both the difficulty of implementing the diversity thrust in all areas, as well as the problems of adjustment of the students themselves.
Mr. Orrick went on to report on the efforts of the Returnees in Washington and the difficulties they were having in functioning within the framework of a regular Chapter structure. The Returnees were currently working on forming a city-wide Chapter with various Returnees working with individual schools to carry out an urban program.
He reported also that Americans Abroad Department had revised its publications to expand the eligibility requirements for participant, and the printed material for the Winter Program was also being re-written to include more emphasis on the need for diversity.
As an example of a not uncommon problem, Mr. Orrick related the case of a student from Germany who (contrary to the dress code of his high school) had grown a beard. The student quickly became a symbol of student rebellion. He finally shaved off his beard, but the basketball coach dropped him from the team anyway. At this point the host family took the case to court and the student was reinstated on the team with the agreement of the Superintendent of Schools; however, the Principal suspended the student from school and the incident went on to divide the community. The matter had been satisfactorily resolved. (The dress code was revised.) However, the case was an example of problems resulting from a disparity of values with which AFS is being faced with increasing frequency.
To wit, the following:
March 4, 1970
American Field Service
313 East 43rd Street
New York, New York 10017
The Washburn AFS Adult Committee spent much of its January meeting discussing aspects of the AFS program which have been troubling our members. Since then, the Our World issue on "Relevance" has reached us; and I believe that our concerns are shared by the New York administrative staff. Nevertheless, I believe you will be interested in a report on our comments and questions.
Unfortunately, I must first point out that Washburn has not yet submitted home applications for its 1970-71 students. Although we have already raised funds to bring two students to Washburn, we have not been able, thus far, to find two suitable families. In the not too distant past, we were able to select the best qualified families from among a group of competing applicants. This is no longer true. Our home finding committee has had to approach many, many families in order to find any who would even consider applying.
This is not because Washburn is a weak or floundering chapter. This year we have made a valiant effort to broaden the base of our support in the school and the surrounding community. We have a number of dedicated new adult committee members who are widely known and respected in the district. Our student group has 150 dues-paying members. Our AFS students are attractive and intelligent, and project an excellent image of AFS. Our Americans Abroad returnee is a well-known senior who as news editor of the school paper has provided AFS with excellent publicity within the school. (In January for example, the paper carried a prominently headlined front page story about our search for homes.) Our students and our returnee are giving talks to a wide variety of organizations. Our fund-raising projects have been successful. But in spite of all these pluses, we are having to search desperately for families---even among the comfortably situated middle to upper-middle income people who have traditionally opened their homes.
And if we have trouble sustaining interest in AFS within the group which has consistently supported us, it is even more difficult to recruit less affluent families. The expense of having an added person to support in a period of inflation, and the lack of space in most lower income homes make it almost impossible for such families to accept students. Yet they are often people whose lives might be most enriched by the AFS experience and who could provide an entirely new dimension of living for the students.
There are other ramifications to the income problem. Because of increasing concern about urban problems, environmental problems, and political problems, many students and some adults--as you know--no longer consider AFS relevant. This feeling is intensified by their observation that students from abroad often come from upper-income families who could probably afford to underwrite the entire cost of sending them to the U.S.A.
We are also concerned about the income factor as it affects the selection of Americans Abroad. By the time our chapter has raised funds for two students from overseas, we can afford only a $200 contribution to the expenses of our Americans Abroad candidates. The AA program is sharply restricted in scope by the fact that full scholarships are not available; yet we see little possibility of providing additional funding. And with college costs increasing astronomically, even comfortably circumstanced families often discourage their children from applying.
For those families who can afford to become involved with AFS, the program no longer holds the appeal it once had. Travel outside the United States has become quite commonplace. Eighty students from our school choir travelled in Europe last summer; fifteen or twenty students will travel in Russia this summer; and many others have opportunities to travel or live overseas, or to entertain overseas visitors in their homes. The fact that only a handful of people attended a well-publicized series of slide talks presented at the Minneapolis Art Institute by AFS returnees from throughout the metropolitan area probably resulted from a blasé attitude about foreign travel on the part of the general public. Those of us who have had first-hand experience with AFS know that travel abroad is not comparable with life as an American Abroad in the home of an overseas family, but at first glance travel many seem equally appealing--and it is more easily arranged.
The Rotary program is expanding in our school and has some distinct competitive advantages over AFS. Principal among these is the fact that it gives a firm guarantee of placement to successful candidates soon after application is made. It is very difficult for American Abroad applicants to accept the long period of uncertainty between application at Washburn and acceptance or rejection by New York. It is also much easier to find families who are willing to open their homes for three month than families willing to commit themselves for an entire year. We realize that Rotary does not provide the same sort of in-depth experience that AFS does, but if the three-month commitment is the one which families are prepared to make, perhaps AFS will have to rethink its philosophy and revise its standards. We often find that a well-qualified, interested family has short-term obligations which make it impossible to take a student for the entire school year. The August arrival time, particularly, is often committed elsewhere--by travel plans, college preparation, or what-not.
We also wonder if AFS is not too ingrown both here and abroad. The devotion and time-consuming effort required to carry on the program of a local chapter is usually found only if individuals have had first hand involvement with the program. Our chapter presidents (including me!) are for the most part women who have had students in their homes or are mothers of Americans Abroad. They tend to recruit their friends and acquaintances as committee members--and this in itself encourages a self-perpetuating conformity to traditional patterns.
I have raised many questions and have not supplied any answers. Please do not construe these comments to indicate a lack of loyalty to AFS. My own family's personal experiences with AFS have been richly rewarding: our son's summer abroad in South Africa under the Americans Abroads program was, he feels, the high point of his life to date--and he has said so on all his college applications! The other members of the Washburn committee feel equal devotion to AFS. We realize that the decline of interest which we discern is m many ways based on factors beyond control at either the national or local level. But when a seemingly successful urban AFS chapter is experiencing the kinds of problems I have described, it seems to us essential that we spell them out for you to analyze.
Mrs. Burton Paulu
Washburn AFS Chairman
Obviously these were troublous, times, and AFS, was for several years to feel the effects not only of almost world-wide changes among young people but also of forces increasingly at work within the AFS organization itself. No organization as extensive, as complex, and as dependent on volunteer support as AFS could fail to be more than ordinarily affected by the far-reaching changes, particularly among the young. The focal point of concern, of course, among many people, old and young, from many countries, was the Vietnam War and the increasing magnitude of the U.S. involvement and its war effort.
On May 12, 1970 a special meeting of the Board of Directors was convened to consider a letter, a resolution and a request for action presented to Mr. Howe, by members of the New York Staff.
6 May 1970
Mr. Arthur Howe
President, AFS International Scholarships
313 East 43rd Street
New York, New York 10017
Dear Mr. Howe:
We ask that the enclosed resolution be presented to the Board of Directors of AFS International Scholarships. We urge that this resolution be adopted and be sent in the form of a telegram to President Richard Nixon as an expression of the concern of AFS International Scholarships over the events of recent weeks and years. We also urge that the text of this statement be included in a Chapter Members' Letter, in Our World and in a mailing to our overseas offices at the earliest possible date. Finally, we urge that mention be made of this action in the Eagle Letter or in a special mailing to our present students.
Thank you for your consideration.
Virginia L. Blanford
For Members of the AFS Staff
Andrea Rogers None Washington Doug Stevenson Mrs. Guerin Onvola Blue Faxon Ginny Blanford Tim Callas
AFS International Scholarships is an organization dedicated to international understanding and to the principle of open communication between individuals. Basic to our work with thousands of young people and adults over the course of fifty-six years is the belief that progress--and peace--result only from respect and from a creative sharing of differences. We are compelled to peak as an organization at a time when thoughtful individuals of all ages feel that their concerns are no longer respected or heard. With them, we speak for peace, for human rights, and for human dignity--ideals basic to the AFS programs and to reasonable societies everywhere. We implore you, as a world leader, to direct your full energies to the creation of an atmosphere of respect for the individual and to the reuniting of a tragically divided nation and world.
The staff committee which had prepared the Resolution were present and explained to the Board the strongly felt need of the staff as a whole to speak out. The Board unanimously voted to extend its thanks to the Members of the New York Staff for their initiative in expressing the need for the AFS, to reaffirm its purposes at this critical time.
The Board also considered a statement presented by President Howe and ultimately approved a resolution for distribution to the AFS constituency for transmission to all heads of state, and for release to the press. The statement follows:
Resolution of the Board of Directors
of AFS International Scholarships
12 May 1970
AFS International Scholarships is an organization working to strengthen the foundations of peace by promoting understanding and insight among people. As a non-political, private activity, seeking inclusiveness of national, religious, racial and economic groupings, AFS is sustained by a far-flung constituency of voluntary workers, students, staff and contributors. Basic to the association of more than 50,000 AFS students and equal numbers of host families, schools and communities in 79 countries is the belief that personal growth and world peace derive only from creative sharing of differences.
The decade of the 70's commences with widespread distrust between people and between nations; with unprecedented uncertainty over values and methods; and with frequent use of force to settle differences. At this time the Directors of AFS, while not purporting to speak for their entire constituency on all issues, do feel the responsibility to present this restatement of the objectives of their program.
To provide a basis for communication and understanding, essential to the just, peaceful resolution of differences, AFS encourages each individual's extension of empathy and self-awareness. AFS programs involve youth, family life and a broadly defined concept of education relevant to a new era in which the brotherhood of man ceases to be a distant philosophical goal, but becomes an urgent necessity for survival.
Therefore, the Directors of AFS record their conviction that the opinions of thoughtful individuals of all ages must be heard and responded to by those who exercise leadership. Speaking for peace, for human dignity, for human rights, they implore world leaders, and commit themselves, to direct their energies toward creating an atmosphere of respect for the individual and toward reuniting the tragically divided people of a shrinking world.
By further resolution of the Board of Directors, this message is being sent to heads of state throughout the world. It is also being distributed to all associated with AFS International Scholarships.
The effects of the cultural changes taking place then became dramatically evident in the AFS program members. For 1970-1971271 fewer students from overseas were placed in U.S. families and 111 fewer U.S. students sent abroad. All of this took place in spite of increased efforts to improve relationships with volunteers throughout the country and the rest of the world. In the U.S. a Field Office had been established in Seattle, Washington, to assist AFS, in the Northwest. We were reaching out to more communities and to different ethnic-socio-economic levels in those communities by the Short Term Exchanges. Economics obviously had something to do with the drop-off, the severe recession in the West Coast aircraft industry and New England satellite electronic industries obviously accounted for the severest regional decreases. Another factor seemed to be the reluctance of families to receive an unknown young person in their homes at a time when concern about their own children was so high. Drop-offs in the Americans Abroad Program seemed to be occasioned by AFS administrative difficulties and Returnee differences in the receiving countries. Anti-American feelings, arising especially from the Vietnam situation, undoubtedly contributed in some instances.
In an effort to make operations in the New York office more effective, certain organizational changes had been made. Miss Alice Gerlach, until recently Director of Americans Abroad, had assumed responsibility for the Winter Program. The office of Mr. William Orrick, Vice President for Programs, was responsible for the Americans Abroad Program, Chapter Relations, The Opportunity Fund, Short-Term Exchanges, Educators' Program, boarding school students in the U.S., departure and arrival gateways, all program publications, case studies, overseas operations, staff training, and staff and field conferences.
For the first year in a long time AFS, had not been able to increase its financial equity; $40,000 had to be taken from capital reserves to meet annual expenses. In spite of reducing projected expenditures for the year by about $200,000, Treasurer Backer announced there was a deficit of $140,000 for 1970-1971. In view of these financial strains the Directors decided to authorize a feasibility study to determine AFS potential to conduct a successful capital fund drive.
The year was one of introspection for the AFS. A greater effort was made to determine the needs of the families, the students, the schools, and all others associated with the programs. Many people continued to be concerned about the programs' relevancy to the current world. The Returnees, especially, desired more involvement with the issues of the day. Overseas as well as in the U.S. there was evidence of a "generation gap" in the administration, representing the different styles and values of Returnees and their parents or other older people supporting the program.
In responding to the need for a better balance on the Board itself, of a young, international, and diversified membership the Nominating Committee recommended the addition of three members, one to each class; these new places were to be filled by such new members as persons of minority backgrounds, undergraduates, overseas representation, and program operational participants. In preparing its report the Committee presented also a review of significant steps taken over the last several years affecting the composition of the Trustee Membership.
Historical Background on Trustee Membership Structure:
1. On 12 December 1966 the Founding Members of the AFS held a special meeting at which the By-laws of the Corporation were amended to provide for a Trustee Membership structure. The amended By-laws provided for 20 Life Trustee Members, 27 Term Trustee Members, and a Board of Directors consisting of 18 members. 2 At the first Annual Meeting of the new Membership held on 28 January 1967, the number of Term Trustee Members was increased from 27 to 30. 3. At the second Annual Meeting of the Members held on 27 January 1968 the number of Directors was increased from 18 to 21. 4. In order to provide for greater flexibility and allow for wider representation on its governing bodies the By-laws of the Corporation state that "Directors need not be Members of the Corporation." As a point of fact all Directors also happened to be members until 1969 when Mr. Koehl remained on the Board after his term as a Trustee Member had expired. At present there are 5 Directors who are not Trustee Members. 5. At the 1970 Annual Meeting the Trustee Members' Committee on Diversity recommended that, in order to make room for "more diverse and more international" members, the number of Trustee Members and Directors be increased and further that steps be taken to eliminate the Life Trustee Memberships in favor of three equal size classes of Term Trustee Members. 6. At the special meeting of the Board held on 19 February 1970 a resolution was passed asking the Nominating Committee of the Trustee Members to review and discuss the recommendations of the Committee on Diversity concerning changes in the membership structure and to report its findings at the September meeting of the Board of Directors.
27 February 1970
Interesting developments in AFS around the world were continuously being reported. A renewed interest in UNESCO membership for AFS prompted Mr. Howe, Mr. Robert Thayer, and Mr. Jacques Contant, AFS European Coordinator, to attend UNESCO meetings in Paris. Discussions were held with officials concerning possible programs in Eastern European countries, notably Poland, Bulgaria, and Hungary. In Greece and Turkey middle-level bureaucratic criticism threatened to terminate AFS programs there, but Mr. Howe succeeded in receiving unqualified approval from the Ministers of Education. In Turkey there had also been a power struggle within the AFS organization, resulting in the dissolution of the Turk American Field Service Derengi and the recognition of the new AFS Uluslersi Bursluri. In Germany, the AFS Committee in Munich was thriving whereas the West Berlin Committee was suffering from the isolation, tension, and artificiality of life there. In Uruguay, the AA School Program was cancelled for 1971-72 because of the political climate.
In December, 1970, the Board of Directors' Committee on Diversity delivered its final report. That part of the Report summarizing the Committee's conclusions reads:
Introducing its January 1970 Report to the Trustee Members of AFS, the committee on Diversity concluded: "The goal of diversity is inherent in the basic concept of AFS. The organization has always offered a human experience and has cherished man's differences while honoring our common humanity." However, in comparing the inherent goal to the actual situation, the committee stated:
"We discovered that AFS was not doing what it should to increase the diversify of its participants and their experiences... Much relating to diversity in AFS has been ignored, overlooked or assumed being done---but actually undone. Regulations, procedures and even the outlook of AFS as an institution were found to be predominately white, middle class and suburban and generally to exclude anything else."
Offering 64 recommendations for steps to begin alleviating this situation, the committee sounded the general theme that AFS "surely has an obligation to lead (its constituency) and to lead with the same idealism and boldness that have been traditionally a AFS hallmark... Our obligation is, at the same time, a significant opportunity."
"Since that January report, the continuing Committee on Diversity has watched with interest the steps AFS has taken toward greater diversity in its programs and the experiences of its participants; and the committee has played a concerned role in these steps whenever possible.
"The expansion of the Short-Term Exchange Program after a very successful pilot year in 1969-70, the establishment of the Opportunity Fund, the partial changes in Americans Abroad eligibility and fee structure, the Trustee Members' approval of a Multi-National Program, the overseas discussions of diversity in each country (as evidenced by letters coming to the Diversity Committee), the recent decision to experiment with a planned two-family experience for some students coming to the U.S., and the continuation of the 1970 revised End-of-Stay Bus Trips program---all offer examples of what is being done and what more could be done. Our committee applauds these efforts.
"The committee recognizes, however, that these efforts are only first steps. A comparison of the above examples with the recommendations of the January report indicates that the job of bringing diversity to AFS is barely begun. More than one chapter worker has told us there is at least a two-year lag between decisions on new policies by AFS/International and general implementation by the field. One overseas Representative writes: 'We are at least five years late in putting planned diversity to work, and we will need another ten before it becomes really effective. Clearly, we must continue to provide sustained leadership if we are truly to broaden---and thereby strengthen---the AFS program."
The Report then directed attention to ten priority areas:
1. Americans Abroad Eligibility. 2. Americans Abroad Fee Structure. 3. Expansion 4. AFS Goals and Directions 5. Short Term Exchange Students on Bus Trips 6. Publicity and Public Communications 7. Overseas Operations 8. Personnel 9. Shorter version of the Winter Program 10. Continuation of the Diversity Effort--Planning and Administration
Discussion of many of the recommendations and questions raised by the Diversity Committee would occupy a major part of the attention of the AFS Convention and World Congress. The interest of the U.S. Returnee Association in these questions is also evidenced by this letter received by Mr. Howe concurrently with the release of the Committee Report.
December 4, 1970
Mr. Arthur Howe, Jr.,
President AFS International Scholarships
313 East 43rd Street
New York, New York 10017
Dear Mr. Howe:
We are addressing the following ideas to you in the hope that you will communicate them to the Board of Directors at their December 8 meeting.
As you know, the Executive Board of the U.S. Returnee Association has been vitally interested in the issue of diversity within the AFS programs. The Board expressed its interest and concern in a broad resolution passed in November, 1968, and through the Returnee discussion with the Trustee Members at their January, 1969 meeting. A minority Banking and Services Resolution was also passed in the spring of 1969. Just a year ago, the Returnee Executive Board voted to allocate the funds received through its annual fall appeal to the Opportunity Fund.
We wish to express to the Board of Directors our appreciation and support of the work of their Diversity Committee. We are pleased with the progress that has been made toward broadening the program. At the same time, however, we feel that there is still much that can and should be done.
You will recall some of our concerns from the discussion at our meeting on November 14 and 15. Specifically, we urge the support of the Board of Directors in the following areas:
1. Adoption of a proposal for open eligibility in the Americans Abroad Program.
2. Revision of the current fee structure in the Americans Abroad Program.
3. Increased emphasis on expansion into new types of areas, such as the very rural, urban, and parochial schools.
4. Careful reconsideration of all publicity and public communications from AFS to be certain that they reflect the current thinking within the organization.
It is our hope that the excellent beginning in the field of diversity will spark continuing progress in this area. To achieve our common goals, AFS must remain meaningful in today's society.
Very Cordially yours,
Stephen H. Petersen,
Chairman for the
U.S. Returnee Association
The recommendations of the Diversity Committee reflected the interests and feelings not only of the members themselves but also of many U.S. Returnees and AFS International staff members as well. Changes had already been effected in administrative policies and program procedures.
Criteria for Americans Abroad candidates had been broadened to include schools previously but not currently hosting Winter Program students, schools participating in Short Term Exchanges, and urban community-based organizations.
Eligibility for Winter Program families was less rigidly interpreted and more students were placed in families representative of the ethnic, economic, and social structure of the community, or in childless families and families where parents were foreign born or both worked full time.
AFS had also committed funds for specific purposes furthering more diverse participation in AFS by creating the so-called Opportunity Fund of $50,000 per annum. In cooperation with such New York City organizations as the Lower East Side Community Ambassador Program, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, and the East Side Settlement, and similar organizations in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Chicago, Illinois, Americans Abroad candidates were selected from outside the normal pattern of AFS programs. Funds were also allocated for additional financial assistance to Chapter AA candidates and some financial support was provided for Short Term Exchanges involving economically limited communities.
Stirrings of Regionalism
Internationalism, redefinition of AFS purposes, and movement toward an AFS European Federation shared the spotlight with the Diversity Theme. Personnel exchanges were taking place between National AFS offices and with AFS International Headquarters. Affiliation with UNESCO was once again a matter of considerable interest. Regional collaboration between AFS National Organizations was exemplified in the European Midway for Americans Abroad, the Regional office for Central America, and Americans Abroad placement in Brussels. There was a memorandum circulating in Europe proposing a European Federation to serve as a means of nominating European Trustee Members, of fund raising, and in general, of increasing the international structure of AFS. There was increasing talk of separating AFS/International and AFS/USA. The Multi-National Program was at last launched; five AFS/MNP students arrived in January, 1971, in their host countries: an Australian and a New Zealander in South Africa, a Chilean in Australia, and a South African and an Australian in New Zealand. Within six months, twenty MNP students would arrive in Europe.
All of these developments seemed a fitting prelude to the AFS Convention and World Congress scheduled for the Fall of 1971. Plans were announced for holding the Convention '71 in Atlantic City; its theme was to be "Confrontation -> Understanding." The World Congress was to meet at Lake Mohonk, New York, following the convention by a few days.
The year 1971 brought also a note of sadness with the sudden death of George H. Edgell, Jr., Life Trustee and former AFS Director of Program . For twenty years he had devoted his life to AFS and, as the minutes of March 2 Directors Meeting noted, "He was either directly responsible for or played a vital role in literally every major and minor development in the Scholarship Programs. His wisdom, his generosity, his wit, his administrative skill and, above all his concern for individuals are a continuing source of inspiration to all who knew him... "
George's brother Harry gave expression to what many of GHE's friends felt:
"He was a complex person. He indulged himself in good food, good wine, good music, art, literature, and he introduced others to them. When on his trips, he used to send us postcards describing memorable dishes he had found and guessing their recipes. He described himself as being forever grateful to me for having introduced him to a great Rhine wine, and castigated himself for having too long spurned German wines. I have no idea how many people, young and old sat through their first opera with him.
"But for all this, he boundlessly enjoyed the simpler pleasures, such as the smell of lilacs at Hardscrabble in the spring, and the evenings there sitting on the porch, watching the changing colors on the hills as the sun set behind him, finally returning indoors only when even the night sounds were quiet.
"He responded to intellectual challenge. Although all his formal education was in the humanities, he was a subscriber to and a studier of such a scholarly scientific publication as SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. He described himself as a "musical illiterate" but he spent hours playing and re-playing a complex Shostakovich violin concerto until he could finally say that he understood what the composer was doing.
"More than anything else, he studied people, and especially, young people. He came to understand teenagers almost intuitively; it took him more time to persuade them to understand themselves. He respected them, he admired them, and had confidence in them, and they sensed this and responded to it. He was understanding, but never uncritically so. He was too shrewd and penetrating to be beguiled by a pose.
"He was generous. He gave of his money, of his time, of himself. He was glad to be able to, and he did it according to the adjuration of St. Matthew. 'But when thou doest aims, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.' One of the bequests in his will specifies but a single provision: That no separate fund be set up, that there be no memorial, nor any plaque. Because of his refusal to claim credit for it, no man will know the limits of his generosity.
"He never craved superiority for himself, yet always for the causes with which he associated himself. He was a perfectionist, rarely satisfied with his own successes. He never begrudged the successes of others. He sensed how he could make his best contribution and he was devoted in giving of himself to make that contribution.
"AFS gave him the opportunity to join a community of dedicated people Though---as his inter-office memos sometimes revealed---he could occasionally be impatient with them, he had a feeling of kinship with them. Each year, a new group of students injected variety, even though he agonized over the process of selecting them for he was always apprehensive of failing to recognize a deserving application. And as, over the years, the returnees continued their participation in the program in their own countries, he had the pleasure of renewing old friendships and the satisfaction of seeing grow the influence of the organization to which he had chosen to give his best talents. Not many men can count themselves so fortunate."
Perhaps more revealing of what George Edgell was and stood for can be gathered from this "Eagle Letter" to the students:
"A couple of months ago, I wrote you about 'What is Education?' I did this because it is a subject I know you often are asked about and have to think about. But there is another word which I think you just as often hear or think of which is almost equally misunderstood, and which has so many very different meanings to different people...
"The word is 'Culture'
"So much of the time, when I say 'culture' I must expect that whoever I am talking to will think that I mean reading 'good books' and listening to classical music and knowing about classical painting, etc. So much and no more. But the full meaning is immensely greater than this.
"Of all living creatures, man is the only one that is not born with all the talents and until equipment that he will need to live. All others merely need to be fed and protected until they have grown up--and then they can operate alone, on their own.
"But if you merely fed and protected a child until he was 14 years old or so, and then turned him loose, naked, with no knowledge and no tools, he would quickly die. You would have failed to provide him with that platform of culture without which none of us can exist.
"One part of this culture is knowledge. But ask yourself how important, relative to each other, different items of knowledge are. I know that there is a celebrated statue of Buddha in Kamakura in Japan--and have seen it and would recognize a picture of it. Play me a few bars of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and I can tell you what it is. This is the sort of thing so many people mean by 'culture'. But, many thousands of years ago, someone learned a fact that is now common knowledge to nearly everyone in the world---that if you take the seed of a plant, bury it in the earth, and give it water, another plant will grow up like the plant you took the seed from. Compared to this piece of knowledge, my knowledge of the Buddha at Kamakura and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is like pebbles beside a big mountain.
"And then there are tools. My hands and nails and teeth are hopelessly weak. I cannot exist for even one day without using a variety of tools to multiply my strength. And along with the tools goes skill---I must understand how to use them and be practiced in using them.
"All this knowledge and tools and skills have been built up and added to by men throughout thousands of years. And the amount has now grown so great that no one man can possess more than a tiny fraction of the culture that he needs inside himself. I have one small selection of it. But, in order to live, I need the help of hundreds of other people who have their own, different selections of it. I cannot make the suit that I am wearing. I cannot even weave the cloth or spin the thread it is made of. And this is only one small thing. In hundreds of other ways I must depend upon other people and their special cultures.
"All this dependence that everybody has upon so many other people then leads to a fourth element in culture--Attitudes. We must all live together and interact with each other effectively. To do this, we must have certain rules. I must know what to expect from other people: what they will do and what they will not do. I must know what is right' and 'good' and 'proper,' and guide my own actions and of others accordingly.
"So what is 'right?' Who is 'cultured' or 'uncultured?'
"Doesn't it boil down to the fact that there are a lot of different, but each perfectly satisfactory ways to live? I certainly grant that there are some basic moral principles and ways of behaving that are common--or should be common!--to all mankind. But the person who is so proud of his knowledge of classical occidental music becomes an ignoramus when you play some Chinese music to him. The Indian who customarily eats most dishes with his fingers eats in fully as graceful and sanitary way as someone who eats with knives and forks--or with chopsticks.
"So... even with my Buddha at Kamakura and my Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, when someone says 'culture' to me, I try to think of all the vastness that this word really includes and so keep my opinion of my own culture a humble one."
Part III: Mr. Howe's Presidency, concluded
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