Thursday, September 3, 2015

April 15, 1940: How to Appreciate

Letter from Kathleen Hambly Hanstein of American Friends Service Committee
to Mr. Dadisman of McPherson College


April 15, 1940

Mr. Elmer Dadisman
Co-Chairman of the Student
Christian Movement
McPherson College
McPherson, Kansas

Re: Thomas Doeppner

My dear Mr. Dadisman:

I am sorry to have been so long in answering your letter about Thomas Doeppner, but I have been trying to get together the necessary technical information in regard to his visa.

As I understand it, he entered on a visitor's visa instead of a student visa and we want to arrange, if possible, to obtain a student visa for him in place of this. This will take a little time to work out and I shall write you about it again as soon as I have the necessary information.

There should be no difficulty in having the transfer to a student visa made and on a student visa Mr. Doeppner would be permitted to work during the summer, or at any time when it would not interfere with his studies. I think it will be splendid if you can find some work by which he can maintain himself during the summer months. I am so glad that you expect to be able to keep him at McPherson for another year.

Very sincerely,

(Mrs.) Kathleen Hambly Hanstein
Associate Counsellor

Letter from Opa to Mrs. Hanstein of American Friends Service Committee


Thomas Döppner                April 15, 1940.

Mrs. Kathleen H. Hanstein
Placement Worker
American Friends Service Committee

Dear Mrs. Hanstein,

I thank you very much for your letter. I do not have yet definite plans regarding the summer, but there are some people here in Kansas who have offered me a job in a farm, so that I at least would have a place to stay. Such a job of course would not make me much money, it would only give me board, room, and a small amount for my expenses, and therefore I am still looking for a better job. The college is helping to find such an one for me. It is rather difficult, because I do not know anybody who would have use for me. I would be very thankful if you would help me looking for a job.

As far as I could find out the college is planning to have me here for another year, and I would be very glad if this would be possible. The work of this college is not directly in my line, but here are several courses which are of great help to me, and thus I would like to graduate here. It might be possible that I shall be able to do this already next year, but that is not quite sure yet.

I do not know what to do about the prolongation of my visa. What steps are to be done concerning it? Is there any possibility of changing my student visa into an immigration visa? I would appreciate it very much if you would inform me about that.

I continue to enjoy being at McPherson very much, and I daresay that I am having the happiest days of my life here, and I know how to appreciate it. I feel very thankful to everybody who has helped me to come here and to stay here.

Thank you very much for your interest and help in my affairs.

sincerely yours,

Thomas Döppner.

This is when we need a group email or text. Alas- we must assume everyone gets on the same page eventually. So let's recap the facts and perceptions here:

Hanstein wrote to Dadisman (at McPherson) that she is working on changing Tom's (Opa's) visitor visa to a student visa so that he can work in the summer. The understood facts here are that Opa is still living in the USA on a visitor's visa, which technically prohibits him from working.

Opa writes to Hanstein and talks about changing his student visa to an immigration visa. He doesn't seem to know what he's talking about. He needs to get a student visa first. He should know this- he wrote about it in his letters and his autobiography. He'll catch up. He doesn't seem to realize the visitor's visa limits his ability to work because he is lining up jobs and asking Mrs. Hanstein to help him find a better one. I wonder if he was alluding to the summer work camps- although I would think if he wanted to do that he would flat out ask about it. He learned about the Quaker work camps when he first arrived to the USA. 

Mrs. Hanstein now has to educate Opa on what kind of visa he has and which one he needs to have. But by the end of these two letters, one thing is clear: Opa is staying in McPherson for at least another year and he is happy there.

I just love Opa's closing comments- he is so grateful to everyone for helping him get to where he is. My favorite line: 
I continue to enjoy being at McPherson very much, and I daresay that I am having the happiest days of my life here, and I know how to appreciate it.
I love that last part- I know how to appreciate it. Don't you get the depth of that? Just like a parent who has had a very sick child knows how to appreciate a child who is well. Like a person who has known hunger can appreciate the feeling of having enough to eat. 

Opa, who has worked for a year and some to find safety and education, and who knows many who are not safe or free to learn- he KNOWS how to appreciate what blessings he has. It gives me joy that he allowed himself that pleasure of appreciation and happiness. 

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