Friday, June 13, 2014

August 3, 1939: Any Word Yet?


Thomas Doppner
Amstelveen, August 3rd, 1939.
Emmakade 8

Dear Miss Salmon,

Thank you again for your kind letter of June 22nd. I appreciate the personal interest you have taken in my case and all of the time and effort you have spent on my behalf.

Naturally I am greatly interested to learn if the winner you mentioned has secured the proper affidavit and other necessary documents. I will appreciate you informing me immediately a decision has been reached.

If the winner qualifies, does this mean, that there are no other scholarships available immediately for Oberlin College? If all scholarships have been awarded, how long will it be before additional ones are available, and will my application be considered at that time? Also are there any other scholarships available in other colleges or universities?

If so, I should like to have an application entered and considered, because I am anxious to arrive in America and to continue my studies without interruption.

Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas Doppner.

Opa writes to Charlotte Salmon at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) - he still has no idea of his offer from McPherson College. In fact, he is writing to check in on Oberlin’s wait list. He wonders if he might have a chance at getting in, and if there are any other scholarships available at Oberlin.

Opa’s perspective of the process that Charlotte has been involved in is pretty narrow. In his mind, Oberlin has been really the only school- all the eggs were in that basket. He asks “are there any other scholarships available in other colleges or universities?” It’s as if he thinks Charlotte is only engaging one university at a time on his behalf- and it makes sense. We apply to schools and wait to hear back. The process of placing refugee students in schools is very different from the way we typically apply and receive acceptance or denial from universities. Opa basically tells Charlotte- apply anywhere! He doesn’t realize that she has been diligently referring him to every college or university that has shown interest in refugee students. Even from the handful of files we have looked into - we have found several letters where Opa’s named was offered as a possibility. There are likely documents in other files we haven’t seen that have his name on them. Opa has no idea how hard Charlotte and the AFSC has been working on his behalf. Come to think of it- he probably never knew. He probably never saw his case file. That kind of blows my mind.

What support have we had in our own lives that happen completely without our knowledge? How many times have my parents, teachers, siblings, friends, even strangers to me perhaps- been an integral part of my well-being without my knowledge? Like Opa’s last letter- how many times have we thought that we were on our own, when in fact there were people working hard for our sake?

A little side note: Charlotte received this letter on August 14, 1939. That is Grandmother’s 17th birthday. Little did this 17 year old know that the world’s events was bringing her future husband closer and closer to her.

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