Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin June 7, 1926


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin June 7, 1926


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin June 7, 1926


June 7. 1926
Mr. C. T. Cun
44 Cambridge Road
Tientsin, China

My dear Mr. Sun:

Your exceptionally friendly and appreciative letter of May 12 has just reached me, and I beg to express my very sincere gratitude for your kindly sentiments. I must admit that Mary’s case has furnished a difficult and complicated problem, but thanks to the generous help which Dr. Sze has given me, coupled with my assurance of your confidence, I have been able to work out the problem, I think, to a fairly satisfactory conclusion.

Within the past day or two I have received assurance from Almira College that Mary will be granted admission credits on the work she has already covered at Abbot and the Whittier School for 14 1/3 points out of the 15 points for admission. It is suggested that she work up some Algebra during the summer to complete the requirement and that, so far as possible, also, she should broaden her preparation in English and possibly French. Just at resent I was trying to work out the best solution for the summer, and I think that I am on the right track.

The first plan suggested by Dr. Sze, and highly approved by me, was to locate Mary for the summer in the home of a member of the faculty of Almira College where she would have not only necessary instruction but wholesome influence and proper guidance. The plan fell through at the last minute, as the good woman on whom Dr. Sze had counted for this work decided to pass the summer abroad. No other suitable place or person appeared to be available. Dr. Sze then suggested that Mary might spend the summer at Ithaca, New York, taking work in the Cornell Summer School and living in one of the dormitories reserved, I understand, for girls and over which an officially appointed matron would exercise a certain amount of control. As Dr. Sze advised me further that he, himself, and his family were to spend their summer in Ithaca, it seemed to me that this would perhaps be the best solution of the problem. Frankly, though, I did not quite relish the idea of leaving Mary for the entire summer in a large university town with more or less of a floating and unstable population and subject to the somewhat free and easy influences and ways that are apt to be in evidence under those conditions. I know from experience that the chaperonage provided in university centers and dormitories for girls is often a pretty nebulous thing. One cannot always tell what the strongest influence working on an individual student is going to be.

Just after I had tentatively expressed to Dr. Sze my approval of this plan, I was confronted with the problem of providing a place for Mary for the three weeks intervening between the close of her school year at the Whittier School and the beginning of the summer session at Cornell. My own home is in such a turmoil at this time of year, with the commencement season just ahead, that I could not, much to my regret, arrange for Mary to be with me at that particular time. I also hesitated to bring her again in such intimate touch with the influences at and connected with Abbot Academy which had worked so much mischief for us all in the past. Some one suggested the Sea Pines School at Brewster, Mass., a rather unusual school for girls, and which I found had a regular summer session. Friends of mine, who have had their daughters there and who have been wholly concerned about the cultural and Christian influences under which they wished their daughters to come, have spoken to me in the highest terms of this school and its atmosphere. The Misses Bickford, who conduct it, are known to be women of unusually high ideals and character. I called Miss Pickford on the telephone and found to my great satisfaction that she would be willing and glad to take care of Mary for the period in question and that she was even eager to welcome a Chinese girl at the school, believing that her presence would exert a wholesome influence on her own students in whom she has always sought to inculcate more of an international mind. Miss Bickford, herself, happened to be in Boston just when Mary’s school at Merrimac closed; so that the transfer was easily made. Miss Clemons meeting Mary in the city and putting her in Miss Bickford’s charge.

I have had a letter from Mary only this morning in which she says that she is very lonesome; but of course that is natural and to be expected, for the first plunge in a new environment is hard enough for anyone, and especially for a foreigner. I shall be greatly surprised if Mary doesn’t find within a short time that the atmosphere at Pines is far more congenial and satisfying than at Whittier. In any case I am strongly disposed just at present to authorize Mary’s continuance at Sea Pines through the summer rather than to take what I feared would be somewhat of a risk by sending her to Cornell. The Sea Pines authorities advised me that a prompt decision will be necessary because their list for the summer is already practically full and in justice to other applicants they must know whether or not Mary is to occupy a place. I have written Dr.Sze about the matter and am inclined to think, from the letter received from him yesterday, that he approves of the plan, although, of course, he doesn’t pretend to know much about the school in question. What I do know is that there is a marked emphasis placed on Christian character and an exceptionally wholesome physical life provided for the pupils, a life which includes sea bathing, horseback riding, tennis, and other outdoor activities. “Whatever the final decision is, I can assure you that it will be the result of careful and prolonged thought and the earnest desire to do only what will prove best for Mary in the end and most nearly in accord with your personal wishing.

I hope very much that Mr. Robinson is going to get here before I leave for my summer vacation, though I inferred from a recent letter from Dr. Sze. as well as from a remark which Tom dropped the other day, that he might not appear until early in July.
With warm personal regards, believe me

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


June 7, 1926


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