Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Thomas Sun, New Haven, Conn., November 5, 1930


Dublin Core


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Thomas Sun, New Haven, Conn., November 5, 1930


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to Thomas Sun, New Haven, Conn., November 5, 1930


Dear Tom:

I have read with great interest your most recent letter, and will try as best I can to answer some of your numerous inquiries.

First of all comes the question of Mary’s return this summer. I have written your father to secure if possible an expression from him of his plans and wishes, but so far have heard nothing definite. I believe that Charlie as well as you has been hoping to accompany Mary back when she goes, so that I am not in a position to advise you as to whether or not it would be fair or even wise for you to consider such a plan too hopefully. At any rate, it seems to me that this is a question for your father rather than I or you to ultimately decide, and I would suggest that you write to him at once and frankly. I don't see how he can possibly be hurt by a letter of this kind from you, for you can put the thing in such a way as to indicate, of course, no desire or intention whatever of overriding his expressed wishes.

Yes, I can well imagine that Yale and New Haven are much more expensive propositions than Middlebury College and Middlebury town. If you can secure a scholarship later, well and good. Your chances naturally will be greatly improved if your record this year is a good one; so make that the best possible.

Your financial situation is about as it has been; that is your father regularly keeps a small balance with me to protect both you and Mary against emergencies. I hope for his sake, however, for I am sure he will find it difficult to understand a wide variance in expenses, that the New Haven expense account is not going to mount too fast, even though it must necessarily be a bit heavier than that at Middlebury.

When it comes to the system of handling your allowances, please understand that I am not treating you a bit differently from the treatment accorded both Mary and Charlies, and Arthur, too, for that matter, when the latter two were here. The plan still holds in Mary's case. When Charlie left for London, his father wrote me explicitly to turn over to him the balance of the amount standing at that time to his credit. This I did, and since that time I have had nothing whatever to do with Charlie's funds. I am perfectly willing that you should have a reasonable balance in your bank account at New Haven, so if that balance is getting low at this time, let me know and I will be glad to replenish it a bit.

I know exactly how you feel about your father’s wishes in respect to an American collegiate degree for you. Like many another Chinese father, I cannot help feeling that your father has attached as you have intimated a mythical value to a degree in itself. Perhaps because we here in America are fortunate enough to know how little of real value there may be in a degree just by itself, and how widely the values in these degrees vary, with that knowledge we are certainly not in any danger of attaching to a lone degree the high values that some foreigners do. I have discussed this proposition with your father in a number of letters in the past, but have to be a bit careful for I know he is perfectly sincere in his feelings and I would not for the world hurty [sic] him.

Don’t be too sure that the Chinese representatives at New Haven are as bad as you think they are just now. If they are, then perhaps you can give them a lot of helpful advice. Anyway, look them over pretty carefully and be as friendly with them as you can until you can find out just what they need from you. In the process I am inclined to think that you will find that they are better than you now believe, and that some of them here and there may even be worth cultivating and eventually helpful friends. Just now I know you are in a pretty blue and discouraged mood, but that is natural enough after the happy year at Middlebury. But these changes are bound to come to us wherever we are, and it is our job to make the readjustments as smoothly as we can and without losing our faith and courage.

Ever sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


November 5, 1930


All Rights Reserved by Phillips Academy