International UnderstandingorEtudiants sans frontières – Students without Borders
International understanding stood at the cornerstone of Donald and Charlotte MacJannet's lives. An example of international understanding themselves - a couple of two nations - they believed that their work in education should help people of different cultures and nations learn about each other. In particular, the MacJannet Schools and Camp exemplified this aspect of their lives. The Elms School, also known as the MacJannet Day School for Americans, or simply the MacJannet School was the first American day school in Europe. It attracted not only Americans but brought together students from many nations. And by introducing children of different cultures to each other, to learn and live together, international understanding would flourish. Long before 'global citizenship' was coined as a phrase, the MacJannet created opportunities to create citizens of the world. For example, as the MacJannet School was not allowed by the French government to teach French children, Donald MacJannet started the MacJannet Camp in Talloires to allow the children of these two nations, and others, to understand each other. The children lived together, struggled to speak each others language, played games and became aware of worlds and cultures outside their own. For by truly experiencing a culture and living within it is how one learns and appreciates others in the MacJannet world.
"The real thread for my accounts is the search, the quest for what is meant by 'international living' - and I even wonder if the MacJ. story should not have a subtitle about it. One uses the words so lightly - but international living is a great challenge and a difficult one. It demands a constant effort towards freeing the individual from prejudices ... He must learn to detect intellectually the impact of another culture both past and present in the surroundings he finds himself. That means he develop his creative imagination and empathy, - and find the means to do so in the circumstances he is placed. This takes courage and willingness to tackle fear successfully. It also means a better way of education of the young and a continued education of older generations. ... I hope that you gathered my - our - concern about living internationally - ... Donald and I learned a great deal during our travels in South America. Central America, the Far East, Africa, etc. as well as in the USA - and the rest of Europe. I think we learned it partly through our children in school and Camp, that kind of awareness, questioning and acceptance that youngsters have"1 Charlotte writes to Herbert Jacobs, the MacJannet biographer in 1981. Travel was an important part of this international understanding; experiencing first hand different places and cultures. The MacJannets themselves traveled extensively around the globe. And where they did not visit themselves they had friends and relatives who corresponded with them. Charlotte shows Donald's spirit of internationalism and his belief in education in this vignette from their trip to Moscow in 1970: "when he [Donald] had ended his visit to the highest TV Tower in Europe (more than 1700 feet) and was trudging towards a bus stop a half-mile away, a big man in a little car drew up and waved Donald into the seat beside him. "Hotel Rossia", said Donald in answer to his host's seeming question (in Russian). "Da da", nodded the driver. Suddenly he frowned and pointed to his passenger. "Capitalist? --- Communist?" Niet communist; niet capitalist;" Donald replied; "professor." The driver laughed, took him the dozen miles to the Rossia, shook hands, refused the proffered package of cigarettes, and drove off waving."2
It was not just within the spheres of the school, camp or travel the MacJannet were examples of international understanding but in their daily lives in Geneva as well. "We do some entertaining of the Fletcher students here. They're really a choice lot, and those who are out in jobs in international organizations are doing very well. They too visit us often. Then we help our young Swiss and French friends to get 'au pair' jobs in America or internships in hospitals. And then so much of vital interest goes on here in Geneva." To the end of their lives the MacJannets were involved in the world around them, continuing on with gathering around them students and travelers. The work of international understanding would be carried on at the Tufts University European Center at the Prieuré in Talloires. Here programs and conferences of international concern are scheduled, along with educational programs. Through scholarships at the Prieuré and exchange programs with the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies, scholars of international studies are encouraged to this day in the memory of the MacJannets.