Major Arthur Howe

Change

The Interim

Galatti's team of faithfuls continued on without him.

Within the upper levels of the administrative staff, there was exceptional ability and experience. George Edgell, Sachiye Mizuki, Dot Field, Alice Gerlach, Robert Applewhite, Vernice Greisen, Mary Annery, and the others were an extraordinary able and experienced group who in effect had been responsible for the many phases of day-to-day and month-to-month administration that kept the organization functioning with a high degree of effectiveness. They too were widely known throughout the AFS world by reason of their contacts with volunteers and participants and their communications to the "field". There was, however, no one among this group both willing and able to assume the leadership. Consequently, the Board turned to one of its own members to lead the organization during this period.

Mr. Masbach had been deeply and increasingly involved in program matters. As a Founding Member, as a Director, as Treasurer, as a member of the Executive Committee and many other standing and ad hoc committees, Mr. Masbach was thoroughly familiar with corporate matters and with the needs and requirements of the program as well.

W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

Masbach assumed the interim until, not long after, AFS found Galatti's successor: Arthur Howe, Jr.

I was on the selection committee, I recall now, and we started systematically collecting names, and I sent in quite a number of nominees myself. I had an awareness they were all looking at me time and again, and we didn't go very far before they had asked me.

Arthur Howe, in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

Operations continued under the everyday direction of George Edgell, until January 1st, 1965, when Mr. Howe took over the reins.

 

The New Quarterback

Education had been a major influence in Arthur Howe's environment. He was born on July 19, 1921, in Watertown, Conn., and attended public school in that city while his father was serving as President of Hampton Institute in Virginia, a training school for Negro teachers founded by Arthur's maternal grandfather, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong.

Mr. Howe graduated from Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., and spent a year as an English Speaking Union exchange student at England's Rugby school in 1938. [...] As a sophomore at Yale University in 1942, Arthur volunteered as an ambulance driver, and so began his association with AFS.

Attached to the British Eighth Army, he was assigned first to the African campaign and then to the Italian. He served from Alamein to the Sangro. In one year he rose to the rank of Major.

[...]

Illness forced Major Howe's retirement in 1944 and his return to the United States. There, however, he continued to work for AFS in raising funds, publicity work, and recruiting. In 1949 Mr. Howe was elected a Director of AFS and in 1952 was named a Vice President.

Mr. Howe graduated from Yale in 1947, taught Latin and mathematics at Hotchkiss School, and returned to England for a year of study at Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1951, he was appointed Assistant Dean of the Freshman Year at Yale; he became Director of Admissions in 1953, and three years later was named as Dean of Admissions and Student Appointments.

At Yale, Mr. Howe was responsible not only for selecting freshmen each year, but also for granting financial aid, for vocational counseling, and for educational research. Among other innovations, he originated Yale's Summer School, a program for educationally deprived high school students of superior intelligence.

W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

As a member of the faithful, in taking up the AFS flame, Howe was by nature and by background more of a "Jesuit educator" than a "warrior monk". He was a University man and his first reflex was to demystify Galatti's organization.

I had to modify certain deeply instilled tendencies, first of all around what I would call the personality cult of the organization. [...] I remember my first battle over this was when I picked up the little book we gave to the student, Through the Year, and found George had written for Steve's signature an almost incredible statement about "I" --- "I" want you to do this ----call "me", "I", "I", "I", "I"... To an outsider it was distressing.

[...]

Another area where this personality thing was dangerous, it seemed to me, was in our dealings with the field. There was an arrogance to this office's "You must do this..." We didn't negotiate with people; we told them. There was a presumption of "we know best" which often was correct, but in a certain number of cases was wrong. But it was disastrous, whether right or wrong, to force our will on volunteers. It took a Steve Galatti to get away with it and Steve could do it because of his touch of genius, but no one else could. I felt it was scandalous the way we were treating our volunteer structure, with a great need to make the staff listen to the field, instead of telling the field.

Arthur Howe, Jr, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

Nonetheless, despite first reactions, Howe sometimes recognized --- as a man of the "faith", and with some natural misgivings --- the appropriateness of Galatti's "anachronistic" ways.

You always had to negotiate change. You didn't push it through, because George and Sachiye were the key to holding the whole show together in those days. It seemed to me my game was to push through changes over a period of a year, or two or three. In many instances it took that long to bring matters to where I was comfortable. And partly what happened in those three years was that I learned there was more wisdom than I realized in the original procedure, so I didn't have to change things by the end of three years as much as I thought I did initially. [...] Maybe I was getting conditioned, dangerously, to accept some things that earlier I'd seen more clearly as evils...

Arthur Howe, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

In any case, faced with the necessity of bringing an expanding organization in line with the social, economic and political realities of its times, the University man puts his faith in the application of a rational, objective, professional approach.

When I arrived at AFS I felt strongly that for a time at least our energy had to be directly primarily toward a consolidation of the extraordinary expansion and complexities of organization which we have developed over the years. There were urgent needs in connection with personnel, finances, organization, educational liaison, policy coordination, and office space. In putting a good deal of emphasis on these things, I have undoubtedly removed the sense of urgency which Steve Galatti always maintained for rapid expansion of our programs.

Arthur Howe, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

Thus, Howe encouraged the AFS coordinating structure to evolve from a company of "knights of the round table" to an institution. This meant that, bye and bye, the "Old Guard" turned in their arms and were replaced by younger staff. However, the nature of AFS coordinating activities did not change --- intense demands requiring whole-hearted commitment, an unrelenting "front line battle crisis" atmosphere, --- all for minimal pay: more like a crusade than a promising career.

We were subject to a very high rate of staff turnover, for example, to the point that you really couldn't delegate a great deal of authority. The whole thing was being restructured every few years.

A. Howe, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

We played the game about every two or three years of restructuring the country. You know, the number of divisions. We had a famous thing called the Metropolitan Division for a while. Given the fact that the staff was turning over 40 percent a year, it didn't make much difference within the office whether the structure changed or not, but it was confusing to the outside world.

We had a wasteful, expensive turnover of staff here. There were many procedures a staff person had to learn to operate effectively in this office, reaching out to the specific needs of other countries and other parts of this country --- it's just enormously wasteful to have this turnover. By the time a person is trained, a lot of time and money have been spent. This was one of our great problems, and I spent much effort, and not very successfully, to slow down the rate of turnover.

[...]

But the times were against us [...] and we continued to be, far more than I would have wished, a place where bright, able, idealistic young people came and worked for a year or two or three and then moved on.

W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

 

Demystification

Through an evolution from archaic "crusade" to modern "educational institution", AFS naturally began to try to explain itself in terms more readily consonant with contemporary perspectives. First, it had a program, the term now referring more to a course of study than to a mission. What then was the program and who were the "teachers"?

The University perspective was in a poor position to explain. Long in the service of a society aspiring towards material well-being and freedom from the tyranny of the irrational, Education has been based on the intellect. The separation of Church and State perspectives has long since been consummated leaving spirituality, emotional well-being and other non-rational dimensions of the human experience with little place in the educational agenda, other than as mere intellectual formulations..

AFS operates on the frontiers of contemporary social and educational theory, and in my darkest moments of frustration with "experts" who cannot see this, I am tempted to seek their endorsement by redefining our activity in their nightmarish jargon: The Cross Cultural Consortium for Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Conflict Resolution Through Confrontation Dynamics.

Arthur Howe, Our World, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

In fact the "program", definition or no definition, refers to the field matrix within which participants --- student and hosts alike --- live and learn from their common experience. Everyone is both teacher and learner in this context. But the educational term "program" implies that the "student" is what counts, leading to the reinforcement of the idea that AFS is primarily a matter of sending young people somewhere, not hosting them. At the same time, the term "program" highlights the activity of the coordinating function of AFS to the detriment of the actual day-to-day inter-relations among people which comprise the most important aspect by far of the "AFS experience".

The office had always played a catalytic role in a much larger picture, and was accustomed to a role as intermediary and coordinator. However, as an ambulance service, its program had been "All and Everything for the Cause", not "an interesting experience driving cars for the French and British". In adjusting to contemporary perspectives and "running its programs", for how long could the AFS office remain in touch with the Program its field matrixes were promoting? Was it not inevitable that the "facts of life" would lead to a misapprehension, if not a psychic split, between participants in the field, "up to their elbows" in the "meaningfulness" of their experience, and an administrative structure in New York with a job to do? Arthur Howe sensed the danger.

Without question, I've enjoyed the stimulation of far-reaching ideas and the wonderful warmth of people. But without any question it's the people I would put first; the personal associations were quite extraordinary. The quality of the people associated with us in New York, and then all over the world, I don't know where you could find associations of that richness. It has given great satisfaction to me personally. I've always liked the opportunity to deal directly with individual students and staff. I wasn't much on departmental formalities; I always wanted to have my hand in the day-to-day business which involved students, families, volunteer workers, and school people. I spent a lot of time on individual counseling problems. I guess I enjoyed it; I wouldn't have done it if I didn't. But I also feel that if you're directing an operation your greatest hazard is isolation from the reality of the nitty-gritty. And the fact that we were so unstructured --- dangerously so at times, I suspect --- made it possible for me to keep involved in more than just administration. I loved it even if it did wear me out.

Arthur Howe, quoted in W.P. Orrick, The First Thirty Years, AFS International Scholarships, 1947-1976, New York: AFS, 1991.

In Old World terms, the AFS "program" could best be compared to traditional apprenticeship, if it can be admitted that masters have as much to learn from apprentices as vice versa. It might also be pointed out, in this comparison, that the Industrial Revolution has largely put the traditional guilds out of business! What is the difference between craft and industry, between the value system promoted by Medieval Guilds and that of today's society? We are hardly in a position to understand, even if we are able to say that the Guilds promoted the sacred within their craft. Perhaps at the heart of all misunderstandings in the AFS world is the inability to be clear about the sacredness of its task in everyday life. Moreover, the Sacred is by nature the domain of Silence, lived and not named. It is referred to indirectly; hence all the anecdotal AFS stories of individuals' increased awareness, sensitivity, emotional growth from which many volunteers draw their inspiration.

Sometimes such concerns have been interpreted as "idealism", implying that the "profane" perspective that drives our society is more "realistic". Unlike the generations that produced men like Piatt Andrew and Stephen Galatti, contemporary society is at sea in this essential dimension of life itself, as attested to by a recent study:

The working group first of all has noted a certain number of observations:

We are living in a society in mutation. This mutation brings about a state of permanent crisis, characterized notably by:

* The rise of individualism, along with the phenomenon of media-prompted mass culture which leads to the non-recognition of the person and his or her place in society.

* The lack of ideological and ethical bearings which consequently leads to the absence of the very notion of "value". The fundamental problem of our society today --- and it is perhaps the one to which our youth is most sensitive --- is that of the quest for meaningfulness and the search for certitudes for the future.

* The crisis of institutions. These institutions, whose real mission is often unclear, have become professionalized and grounded in technique. They have become service providers.

Report of the Working Group "Education Populaire", French National Committee of Popular Education and Youth, April 16, 1991, AFS-VSF Archives

In the absence of a working concept of the "sacred", AFS would find it increasingly difficult to interpret to itself the real "value" of what it was doing. Meanwhile, the numbers of participants were increasing and Operations had "more serious" things to do. The result was an understandable tendency to deal with the AFS "process" in terms of a "product". How could it have been otherwise? AFS headquarters was located in the heart of the American business world, where success is often contingent upon the ability to interpret qualities in quantitative terms. In the long term then, what had begun as a process of demystifying the Galatti approach in favor of something more reasonable, moved inexorably towards deepening the misunderstanding between volunteers on the one hand, enthusiastic promoters of the Cause, and administration on the other, intent on rationalizing operations and conquering "the market".

Under Construction