#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.

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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.

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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".

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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."

NEXT: Thessaloniki, Greek again (1923)

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