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THE UNIVERSITIES AND AMERICAN INTERNA
By George W. Nasmyth, Ph.D., President of the Eighth International Congress of Students. Director of the
International Bureau of Students
In the permanent work for the real object of the Clark University Conference on Latin America, to promote closer relations, mutual understanding and friendship between the United States and Latin America, the Universities of PanAmerica have a position of great importance. We have seen the importance of the universities as a part of American foreign policy in the awakening of China—the beginnings of the Chinese Republic can be traced in large part to the influence of Chinese students returning from their study in American universities. We are just commencing to realize the influence which the German universities have had in the shaping of American education, and to make conscious use of the exchange of professors and students to establish closer German-American relations. But the opportunities for the universities in improving American international relations is greater still on account of the dominant position of the Universities of Latin America in shaping public opinion. If the students of the United States and Latin America can be brought into closer contact, we shall not have the next generation of Latin America interpreting the utterances of our Jingoistic press as the true expression of our public opinion, and we shall not have the widespread ignorance in the United States of Latin-American civilization and of the achievements of many of the Latin-American countries in all departments of human life.
Definite steps have been taken to enlist the universities more completely in the continuance of the work of the conference. It is encouraging to review the beginnings which have already been made. The increasing importance attached to the study of the Spanish language in the universities of the United States and its almost universal recognition in the entrance requirements in recent years has been a factor of far-reaching influence. This has been followed by the establishment of professorships in Latin-American history and civilization in a constantly increasing number of universities. The courses offered last year in the following universities may be cited as examples of this important tendency:
Columbia University, Prof. William R. Shepherd, course on “Latin America."
Clark University, Prof. George H. Blakeslee, "Latin America." Dickenson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Prof. Leon C. Prince, "Spanish America.
University of Illinois, Prof. William S. Robertson, “History of Latin America."
University of Nebraska, Prof. Clark E. Persinger, "Spanish America.
University of Nebraska, Prof. Guernsey Jones, “Asiatic and South American History."
University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Leo S. Rowe, "Latin America." University of Southern California, Prof. David P. Barrows, “South America."
University of Wisconsin, the work of Prof. Paul S. Reinsch in "Latin-American Political Institutions" is being given by Prof. B. S. Moore and Prof. Stanley K. Hornbeck.
Yale University, Prof. Hiram Bingham, “Latin-American History.”
Another factor of increasing importance has been the coming of students from the Latin-American countries to the Universities of the United States. The tide has been turning from Europe to North America in recent years so that at the present time the United States has more than four times as many as France. The total number of students from Latin America in the year 1912–13 studying in American colleges was 436.
The geographical distribution of the Latin-American students in thirty-four universities, colleges and technical institutions was as follows:
The largest number of Latin-American students is claimed by Cornell University, with 88, then comes Pennsylvania, with 81, and then at a long distance, Michigan with 35, Syracuse 27, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 24, Columbia 22, Illinois 21, California and Pennsylvania State 20 each, etc., making a total of 436 Latin-American students in these 30 institutions. The total number of Latin-American students in all the French universities was 100 in 1910, 120 in 1911, 128 in 1912 and 123 in 1913.
In the order of countries, Porto Rico sends the largest number of students 90 (as compared with 107 in 1910–11); Cuba is second with 88 (62 in 1910–11). Mexico comes third with 81 (94). Brazil has shown the largest increase in recent years and has now 54 (as compared with 16 in 1910–11). Argentine sends 32 (an increase of 2 over 1910– 11). The Central American Contingent of 31 (34) is about equally divided between Guatemala, Panama, San Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Peru sends 13 (12); Columbia 11 (4); Ecuador 9 (5); Chili 7 (10); Paraguay 6 (9) and Uruguay 5 (1). The total for South America last year was 137, an increase of 1 over 1910–11. The increases in the individual countries were due in some cases to prosperity, as in Brazil, and in some cases to the direct action of the governments in awarding scholarships and encouraging foreign study in other ways.
In many of the institutions where the numbers are large the students have Spanish-American or Latin-American Clubs. These are helpful to their members and form a needed center for social intercourse, but, it is unfortunate that one influence is often to cut the Latin-American students off from contact with the other students, preventing them from learning the language and entering into the college life of their fellow students. It is possible that a policy of electing a larger number of associate members from among the sympathetic North American students who appreciate and are interested in the Latin-American culture, would serve to lessen the disadvantages while retaining the advantages which they undoubtedly offer.
The Cosmopolitan Clubs have had a large share in the movement for closer international contact between all American students in recent years. In institutions in which strong Cosmopolitan Clubs exist the Latin-American students often take an important part in their activities and reach the larger university communities by means of Argentine evenings, Brazilian evenings, Spanish-American evenings, Latin-American evenings, etc. The Cosmopolitan Clubs have been largely instrumental in establishing contact between the student bodies of North and South America also. Through their efforts a large delegation of students from the United States took part in the Third International Congress of American Students at Lima, Peru, in 1912. These congresses, which seek to emphasize the unity of ideals and the community of interest of America's new generation, illustrate the mine of undeveloped resources for international friendship which are present in the student bodies of American universities. At no other time is it so easy for the Latin and Anglo-Saxon to learn to understand and value the other as in youth, and this understanding once gained is treasured for life.
Since the Seventh International Congress of Students at The Hague in 1909 another bond has been established between the students of Pan-America by means of the “Corda Fratres” or International Federation of Students. The Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs and the Federacion Universitaria of Buenos Aires joined the International Federation at this Hague Congress, and at the Pan-American Student Congress in Lima in 1912 the entire Liga de los Estudiantes Americanos entered the “Corda Fratres” movement. At the Ninth International Congress of Students held at Ithaca, N. Y., last September, the Latin-American delegation reached a total of 35 students, many of whom were sent by their governments. The interest of the LatinAmerican students in the International Federation and the Congress was so great that it was decided to hold the Tenth International Congress, August 15–30, 1915, in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the representative from Porto Rico, Mr. Miguel A. Munoz, was elected the secretary of the Central Committee of the Federation.
In considering the definite measures by which the work of the conference for better relations with Latin America may be continued by the Universities, we may build on the foundations already laid, and the following may be suggested as a beginning:
1. Courses on Latin America, like those already introduced with such success into a dozen universities, should be introduced into every important institution in the United States during the next few years.