After a six-month tour of Southeast Asia, Francis D. Fisher '47 arrived in Boston yesterday to report to his sponsors, the International Commission of the United States National Student Association, located at Phillips Brooks House.
Chairman of the Harvard Student Council International Activities Committee in 1947, Fisher visited Asian colleges and universities after representing American students at a conference of councils in the Philippines.
Although he was not there to study the political situation, the University alumnus did learn a great deal from speaking to undergraduates. He said they "play a much bigger role" in the government than in the United States, where a larger percentage of the people receive education.
The present Burmese cabinet, for instance, is made up almost entirely of the 1938-39 Student Union officials of Rangoon University.
Fisher reported that he found "strong, vigorous, democratic student groups" wherever he stopped. Although these colleges have been bombarded by Communist propaganda, he said that "stories of anti-American sentiment have been overdone." "You don't receive individual student hostility," he added.
Some of the pupils he met had visited Moscow at Russian expense. Nevertheless, Fisher noted no strong trend either toward Russia or the West.
Particularly interested in the projects of Asian student organizations, he found that these groups were actively combating illiteracy, aiding public health problems, and making economic surveys for the use of their governments.
Fisher also observed that social restrictions on woman students were gradually breaking down and the situation was improving even in Afghanistan, where formerly less than ten percent of the women received formal education.
His itinerary included Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Fisher spoke no foreign tongue but said, "It's a lot easier to travel in Asia with English than in Europe."
Commenting favorably on the U.S. Information Service, which sponsors American libraries in most of the large cities of the Orient. Fisher said that he had had no trouble in keeping up with U.S. developments while abroad. On his first day in the States after a trip of six months. Fisher boasted a Stevenson button on his lapel. He also looked well for a man who "ate nothing but rice for three months."
While in Cambridge, Fisher will report on his trip to the University Student Council, which has been in charge of the entire N.S.A. program for Southeast Asia. Fisher is a graduate of the Law School Class of 1951, and a native of Winnetka, Illinois