#37: Venizelos' suggestion (1923)
"We were some three days in Tiflis, we three Anatolia men,
eagerly observing and conferring. Representatives from a
city Gymnasium came to call on us and urgently invited us
to come and take over their school. They had kept it open
till then, 1921, but could not reopen after that summer
vacation. The Gymnasium had no support but student tuitions,
and the students had no money left for tuition. There was
almost no business in the city. But if we would come with,
say, two or three Americans to manage the school and teach
English, and perhaps $1,000 a year in cash, students would
crowd in; their tuition money would pay the salaries of a
staff of Russian teachers who would loyally work with us,
and the school would be a success. How we wished we could
accept their proposals! But the Bolshevik government would
be repressive, restrictive, suspicious and arbitrary. It was
not the thing to undertake it and we reluctantly turned away.
By degrees the conviction of some of us from the first, that
a college belongs with its human constituency rather than with
the location of its campus and material plant, came to prevail.
The Armenian element had largely moved eastward from Asia Minor
into the Caucasus area, but the larger Greek element with many
Armenians and others, had moved westward. Modern Pilgrim Fathers,
and families deprived of fathers, crossed the Aegean Sea; eighty
to ninety percent of our Anatolia constituency were exiles,
chiefly settling in the northern, that is the Macedonian, section
of the country. October 26, 1912, the flag of modern and Christian
Greece had again been hoisted over the famous White Tower in
Thessaloniki, and the boundaries of Macedonia were outlined
essentially as in the days of Philip of Macedon and his son,
Alexander the Great, and as they stood later when visited by the
Apostle Paul. Now for almost exactly 500 years, Macedonia had been
ruled by Moslem Turks.
On the way I stopped in Paris to see Mr. Venizelos, who was
then temporarily residing there. He knew in general about our
vicissitudes with Anatolia College in Turkey, and as soon as
introductions were over, he said, "We hope you will bring your
good work to our country. We want American education, though
I must say we cannot offer pecuniary support; we have too many
requirements and too few resources in our Greek situation to do
that; but we will give you any favors you want such as securing
*terrain*, water supply, and exemption from customs duties, taxes,
and the like. You had better locate in Saloniki; that's the best
place for you; it's the most international". I inquired whether
there was anything in the Greek regulations that would hinder or
hamper us and he assured me that there was nothing of the sort.
Then I asked for some letters of introduction to leading Hellenic
citizens, and he said, "Better than several letters to various
men is one letter to the right man. I will give you a letter to
Mr. Anastasios Adossides, who was recently Governor General of
Macedonia. You can rely on him".
October 14, 1923, was my sixty-second birthday and I was already
awake that morning when Mr. Getchell, in whose home I was
entertained, stepped into my room to congratulate me. He asked
me what I was thinking about, and I told him about the relocation
and rebuilding of the College. He said he knew *that* already.
Together we had already visited Vodena, or Edessa, the upland eyrie
of King Philip of Macedon and the old capital of the country, and
we inspected there the campus already selected provisionally for
favorable consideration. It was a wonderful site for a college,
but Vodena was isolated from the main currents of travel, and
influence, and human activity."
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