Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, September 16, 1927


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, September 16, 1927


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Tsai Ting-Kan, Dairen, Manchuria, September 16, 1927


My dear Mr. Tsai:

On my return to Andover after my summer holiday, I find your good letter of August 6 and note the delay that has occurred in the receipt of letters which I earlier mailed you. I am glad that these have finally reached their destination, though I am not quite sure that all of them have gone through.

Helen and Alfred have both returned from their summer camps and are passing a few days with Dr. and Mrs. Nye in South Weymouth. Helen called me up on the phone last night, and I expect them back here tomorrow or the first of the coming week. They will have another week or two on their hands before the next school year opens for them. It is very difficult to plan wisely for these broken periods that occur between the close of the regular school year and the opening of summer camps and again the close of the summer camp season and the opening of the new school year. It has been my experience with all of my Chinese wards that these periods are not only the most difficult to handle wisely but are likely also to prove the most expensive.

I have decided to send Alfred back to the Mont Vernon School for the coming year, and for the reasons already explained in my earlier letters and of which you have been good enough to express your personal approval. Plans for Helen’s work this year have not yet been fully consummated, but I shall take her over within a few days to Bradford Academy, one of the best of our New England schools for girls, and discuss with the authorities there whether she is ready for work of that grade. Bradford has recently developed what is known as a Junior College course which carries the pupil through work approximating the work of Freshman and Sophomore years in the regular colleges. It is designed to give a well rounded education to those who do not wish or are not seemingly qualified to do the higher college work. I am inclined to think that something of this sort would be well suited for Helen, since you do not favor, apparently, the regular college course for her. I am not sure, however, that she has had enough work to date to enable her to undertake such a course, and it may be wise, therefore, to allow her to return to the Whittier School for still another year’s preparation. Mrs. Russell, the principal of that school, feels that Helen should have this extra year there, and I would favor it myself, and perhaps unreservedly, if it were not for the fact that most of the girls there are distinctly younger than Helen and I am anxious to have her enjoy the companionship of more girls of her own age.

Another factor that enters into the situation is that I don’t wish to locate Helen, if I can help it, too far from her brother or from me. There are excellent schools scattered through the East, several of which I should consider in every way suitable for Helen in this stage of her development, but they are for the most part at some distance from us here and would involve crossing large cities, like New York, on the journey to and from. This presents a big problem, for, even when Alfred and Helen have occasion to cross Boston, I am accustomed to have some responsible person take them in change, as do not feel that they, or Alfred at least, are quite ready to assume responsibilities of this kind for themselves.

I note your suggestions about books for the children, and I will from time to time secure books of the character you have mentioned and present them as presents from you and Mrs. Tsai, as you have requested. Helen is immensely interested in good literature already, and I hope and believe that we shall eventually stir something of this desirable enthusiasm in Alfred as well. Your own experience corresponds with mine, for it was not until well into my college course that I became thoroughly interested in my work and ambitious to make the most out of the opportunities offered me. We must be patient, therefore, with Alfred who is still just a normal wholesome boy.

The moment this opening pressure is off I hope to be able to send you statements of the children’s expenses and expenditures to date.

With kindest regards to Mrs. Tsai and yourself and the hope that you are enjoying your new home, believe me

Ever sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


September 16, 1927


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