Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, November 30, 1923


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Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, November 30, 1923


Letter from Alfred Stearns to Chung Ying (C.Y.) Sun, Tientsin, November 30, 1923


My dear Mr. Sun:

I am enclosing herewith the annual statements of the children's accounts This is not intended as a Christmas present, but it just happens that the middle of the fall term seems to offer me about the best chance in the year to find the opportunity to transmit the accounts to the proper form for forwarding to you. Perhaps they should be sent oftener. If that is your wish, I shall be glad to try to arrange it.

Another matter - I am holding all receipts covering not only the current year, but receipts for the past as well, thinking that you might wish to have these but hesitating to send them by mail both because of their bulk and the possibility that they might be lost in transit. It was my thought that very possibly I should be able to hand them to some one of your countrymen who was returning to China and ask him to deliver them on arrival to you. If you have any definite instructions in the matter, please do not hesitate to let me have them.

We had a delightful little Thanksgiving party at the house yesterday in which all of your children shared and which was made doubly pleasing to them and to us the presence of Miss Rose Hsiung who is Mary's guest for the Thanksgiving recess period. In addition, the boys in the house, the other Chinese boys in the school, including the two Yuan boys joined us, while Arthur and Frank Lin came out from Cambridge for the day.

From all I can find out, Arthur is working as hard as ever at his students in Tech, but he finds the work pretty difficult at times, and especially in individual subjects. I am sure, though, that he is doing as well as we can ask of him and that he will continue to put forth his best efforts to get the most out of the opportunities offered. Frank also appears to be working hard, though, he, too, finds some of his subjects rather difficult.

The members of the family still in my household have had, on the whole, a good year's record. Charlie's scholarship standing has not been quite so good this term as it was last year, but this seems to be due entirely to the fact that some of the new subjects had baffled him a bit at the start, for, so far as I can judge, there has been no relaxing of effort or interest on his part. Tom has definitely improved in his studies over last year, though some of the work is repeated work, as you doubtless know, which makes the schedule a little easier for him to handle. I have reason to feel, though, that from now on the boy will gain steadily and increase his momentum. This year Tom is entering heartily into wholesome school activities. He is singing in the school choir, which will no doubt interest you, as it is not easy for a native Chinese to adapt himself to Anglo-Saxon music. Tom's achievement in this respect is all the more creditable, therefore, and I have ben immensely impressed with the ease and naturalness with which he is getting to handle our vocal music. He is also developing into a pretty good little football player, and he had the distinction of playing against Exeter this fall, not as a member of the regular school eleven, but on another team picked from the various club teams of the school and which is permitted annually to have a friendly bout with a team picked from the class. teams of our good rivals at Exeter. I did not see the game, but those who did assure me that Tom's performance was distinctly creditable.

Mary has shown, I think, a bit better and friendlier spirit all round. I believe, too, that she has been disposed to make a little more intimate contacts with the other girls at school and to take slightly increased interest in her school life and its general activities. She is still below par, if I may use that expression, in this respect, for her natural inclination is to follow old habits and shrink from activities pronounced in American school life, such as athletics and social interests. She is altogether too inclined, as we say in America, to "herd by herself," though both Miss Clemons and I have done everything we could to urge and encourage her to overcome this weakness. Chiefly on this account I am convinced that by another year Mary should take her place as a boarder, rather than a day scholar, in some good girls' school, where she would be more or less forced by circumstances to mingle freely with the other girls and enter whole heartedly into school activities. These opportunities are here now, but to use them to the full requires individual initiative which Mary has not shown in this respect so far, while there is always the change to dodge most of them if desired. As a boarder Mary would find the conditions somewhat different. The great problem is to find in these days a school that provides the activities mentioned above and so very desirable in themselves, but holding at the same time to the high and fine ideals that have in the past governed the life and work of most of our best American schools. Apparently most of our boarding schools today, especially those for girls, have yielded to the pressure of these superficial, social, and materialistic conditions so prevalent in our American life today.

Mary has probably written you that it seemed best to give up the work with the violin. Her teacher assured me that both from the construction of Mary's hand, which doesn’t permit of long reach on the part of her fingers, and because of the age at which she began, she was not likely to make any worth while progress in this work. I have consequently allowed her to substitute for it this year special course in art, for which she evidently has distinct talent and which she thoroughly enjoys. I hope that you will approve of the change.

With renewed assurances of my heartiest regard, and trusting that you will never hesitate to advise me frankly when you have any suggestions or criticisms to make that concern my relations with your children, believe me

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred Stearns


Phillips Academy


November 30, 1923


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