The American Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity plans to construct a social center for American students in Paris. The building will be of a grandeur hitherto unexampled in its field, for the site is the Chateaubriand Estate and its architect will be taken from a present employment in Rheims Cathedral. Every feature of American luxury has representation, including the swimming pool and the ubiquitous cafeteria, in what is apparently a very thorough and a very sincere attempt to transplant the homeland with its virtues and its faults intact.
The Conter will probably be successful, but its founders' description of it as an "oasis" reveals a rather unfortunate point of view. The student abroad has occupied, in the main, a liberal and an enviable position; his temporary isolation gives him a real stimulus in the fine are of transcending barriers of nationality. Not only language, but inter-racial insight and a grasp of a foreign culture have been the fruits of a conscientious attempt on the part of the student at self dependence. There have been, of course, men whose thirst for Keokuk or Hartford was so great as to handicap them even in their work, yet for the most part the disease is distinguished by rapid recovery and pleasant convalescence.
But the line of least resistance will obviously recommend the Center to the new American student in Paris, and will make it easy for him to practice group insulation. Thus a very large part of the value of study abroad must disappear, for one may hear mere lectures delivered in French as well in Cambridge as in Paris. Educational critics have long attacked the self-consciousness of the American student abroad, and his unfortunate tendency to establish an exclusive colony of friends in a single pension. Such a project as the present one, which contemplates the enshrinement of this separatism in a luxurious setting, can scarcely seem will advised.