#26: A difficult year (1915-16)

It was a serious question in Managers' meeting, Sept. 7th, 1915, whether the College should open at the appointed hour the next day or not. There was not an Armenian teacher left to the institution, and but one student, though a few employees and two families had been spared to us by special official favor at the time of deportation. The financial problem was exceedingly difficult. It was decided, however, to continue on as nearly lines as possible, and we thus completed thirty-two weeks of the academic year in a very rewarding way. Five men went through this period as regular members of the Faculty, three Americans and two Greeks. One young man who began teaching in September went as a soldier in October. Another continued until December, when he, too, was called to the colors. Another, who began in January, was drafted away in February. There was no regular teacher of Mathematics or Science, and the higher work in these departments was omitted. Several of the lower classes were taught by advanced students. Mrs. Getchell, Mrs. Pye, and Dr. Marden finely volunteered to share in teaching.

About sixty-five students were registered, seven Russians, eight Turks, and the remainder Greeks. The three Seniors left for military duty during the year, as did ten others. But the student spirit was earnest; discipline, easy; religious interest, fully alert. During and following the "events" of the summer, it was unspeakably difficult to preach or conduct religious exercises, but as the months went by it became easier, until it became almost easier than ever before to give the Christian message, and audiences were more responsive than ever. The Protestant Church maintained its depleted Sunday School and prayer meeting, though the pastor was lost in the deportation, with nearly 900 out of 950 members of the congregation, but its other services were merged in those of the College. Student attendance at preaching services was wholly voluntary, and habitually all attended. There was a gracious season of spiritual refreshing in the winter. Four of the six Greek pastors in the Marsovan field visited us, each for some days during the year, and each shared helpfully in our religious services. The Y.M.C.A. was the one active student organization, and to some extent it took up and carried literary and athletic interests among the students. The Greek community in the city was so straitened by war conditions that it abandoned the effort to maintain a school. The Y.M.C.A. met the need. The College readily supplied the rooms and furniture required, and the Association employed one of its members as a regular teacher, and added volunteer instructors for various lessons to the number of about twelve, thus providing a first class school of four grades with forty-eight pupils. Those student teachers were thus prepared to manage and maintain other and larger schools in later years.

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About the middle of the year the officials, acting on behalf of the Department of Education, demanded the exclusion of Moslem students from Bible lessons and religious exercises. The students were excused from such attendance, and they were constrained to remain away, though several of them would really have been glad to share with the other boys. As for the common Turkish people, however, the great majority were steadily friendly, as were most of the officials personally.

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