Courtesy Reuters

The Foreign Student in America

DURING the academic year 1951-1952 more than 30,000 foreign students came to the United States for training of one sort or another. This is a fact which wins the warm approval of most citizens. Both the Government and private foundations have expressed their enthusiasm for international exchange of students by contributing substantial sums of money to carry it on.

The presence in this country of large numbers of impressionable youngsters from abroad accords beautifully with American notions of how international amity is to be furthered. We are entirely sure that all concerned will benefit if foreign peoples get to know us. We have the warmest faith that, knowing us, they will like and respect us. We believe (without ever having examined the belief very critically) that, if people can be placed face-to-face, they will find a common human basis for understanding. It is a Christian, humane belief and it does us credit.

So great is our belief, however, that we have tended to assume that the process will inevitably be successful, no matter how haphazardly planned and carried out. This is almost certainly untrue. There are better and worse ways of doing it; and, as in all human endeavor, there are hazards inherent in the enterprise. Those who have had extensive dealings with foreign students know that many of the individuals who have come here have not been wisely selected; that many have received training which has left them ill-fitted to deal with problems in their own countries; that many have left our shores despising us rather than loving us.

The problems vary according to the country from which the student comes, of course. The Canadian student, for example, has an infinitely easier task of adjustment to American life than the Indonesian student. The problems which require more thought than they usually receive are chiefly those of students from cultures unlike our own.

The United States has certain clear objectives with respect to the nations of the free world. We wish them

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