Copy of letter (for Stearns) from Ernestine H. French, Elmira College, to Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C., January 11, 1927


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Copy of letter (for Stearns) from Ernestine H. French, Elmira College, to Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C., January 11, 1927


Copy of letter (for Stearns) from Ernestine H. French, Elmira College, to Sao-Ke Alfred Sze, Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C., January 11, 1927


Dear Dr. Sze:

After receiving your letter yesterday asking for a frank report on the status and prospects of Mary Sun, I looked up her record in the Dean's office and found that Mary had received only one "warning" (which means unsatisfactory work) and that was in French last month. I found in talking with the Dean that Mary was allowed and advised by her to drop French because of the natural linguistic difficulties which, combined with an otherwise hard schedule, made the continuance of French this first semester too difficult for her. It will only mean the making up of two hours which can be done much more easily at some future time when college work and everything connected with it are not so new and strange.

Even without the French Mary is carrying fourteen hours a week, including the laboratories. I have talked with each of the professors in the departments in which Mary is working -- Biology, Chemistry, English and Bible and find that they all agree that Mary is an average student doing passing work. Miss Whittaker, head of the biological department said that some time ago she had asked one of the young instructors to give some special attention to Mary and Tsao Ching to familiarize them with terms and to go over some of the points that the other students had previously had in High School. This seems to have helped them very much and their work has been quite satisfactory. Miss Eastom reports that Mary does very good work in Chemistry, in fact much better than that done by some of the American students. Professor Mould reports that Mary's work in Bible is like that of the average American student -- it is passing but not particularly good. In English, also, the report is that there is no question of Mary's not passing -- she is doing satisfactory though not excellent work. Her English teacher told me that she had felt that Mary might do better in English and that she wanted her to improve and so had been a little severe with her. She feels that Mary is, perhaps, a little "spoiled" and apt to become discouraged if she is not praised and made a great deal of. Her idea in telling Mary that she must do better work and show more improvement in her English work was that a little wholesome criticism would be good for the girl.

Nearly every girl has a period of discouragement during her first year at College. There are so many new adjustments even for the native students to make, that it is quite natural that the difficulties should at times seem insurmountable to the girls and

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that they should be tempted to want to give the whole thing up. Added to this very natural situation which must be faced by almost everyone, is Mary's present physical condition which makes everything look dark to her. She came back from the Christmas vacation with a very bad cold. Our resident physician is looking after her and makes Mary lie down and rest for one hour every afternoon. This rest is in place, I believe of the regular gymnasium work, and is a very excellent thing in every way for a girl who is temporarily run down.

We all feel that it would be a very great mistake for Mary to leave college now. She has really passed through the most difficult part -- and successfully, although not with such distinction as she evidently would have liked. Examinations being this week and that is another thing which makes her anxious. Her professors have assured me that she is likely to pass although she herself seems to think that her marks are so poor that she is ashamed of them. I believe that she rates her accomplishments too low and the possibilities of achievement under the circumstances, too high.

Mary is well liked by the students and made a great deal of by them. She has been invited several times to spend the week-end in Corning at the beautiful home of Mrs. Samuel Hawkes whose daughter was at Sea Pines Camp with Mary, but Mary has never accepted the invitations, thinking that she was too busy with her work. Professor Mould of the department of Bible and Mrs. Mould plan to entertain Mary with some of the other students in their home very soon. Of course, I have had Mary at my house and have asked her to come whenever she can, but she has not accepted without a special invitation.

Personally, I feel, very strongly that Mary's feeling of discouragement, while perhaps natural under the circumstances, should not be taken seriously. She is doing as good work as the average student and all conditions surrounding her college life, so far as I can see, are pleasant, wholesome and beneficial. I believe that it would be a very grave mistake for her to be allowed to "give up."

I trust that this report will be of assistance. You and Dr. Stearns may rest assured that a very personal interest is taken in Mary as in all of "our girls" at Elmira. We want each and everyone of them not only to develop into the best possible women but to be happy in doing so. President Lent as you know takes a very special interest in each student. He has asked to have a talk with Mary tomorrow.

With very cordial good wishes for the New Year to you and Madame Sze, I am

Sincerely yours,


Ernestine H. French


Phillips Academy


January 11, 1927


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