Thank you for the wonderful story about dragon boating featuring my team, the Philadelphia Schuylkill Dragons, in the February 2006 issue.
Through no fault of your own, but my mix-up in haste, the photo on page 14 shows not Team USA Grand Masters in Berlin, but Team USA Premier Women. This photo gives me a chance to plug Sharine Wittkopp ’01, second paddler from the right, who is superior at the sport and races with both the elite men’s and women’s teams for the United States. We were teammates four years ago and discovered we were Mawrtyrs. She was 21 and I was 62, but she encouraged me and even helped to coach me in technique. I was remiss in not mentioning her during the interview, but was focusing on the fact that older women can transition and learn to excel at new ventures, even as strenuous and challenging as dragon boat racing! I would also like to thank Karen Mauch, the photographer who took the slides of my artwork.—Elizabeth Lyle Huberman ’37
Editor’s note: Dubin’s professor of economics was Mort Baratz, not Peter Bachrach, a professor of political science.
After seeing the story about Marlene Dubin, I wanted to elaborate further on the greatness of dragon boating. As a member of the Philadelphia dragon boat community, I have seen, firsthand, the dramatic changes in the lives of women like Marlene who are vigorously taking on this sport. This sport can also change the life of just about anyone, for example, the children on the youth team who went to Berlin. Many of these children go to less-than-adequate schools and have parents who don’t support them. Through this sport, they find a social network for doing something positive and healthy that also allows them tremendous opportunities. How many of their friends get to represent their country in a world championship sporting event? They have the chance to learn something new, be surrounded by positive role models, and participate in trips that they would otherwise never be able to afford or pursue. So dragon boating benefits the young and the old alike. And the in-between? Well, I’ve actually changed my career plans to go back to school for an M.D./Ph.D. because of all the physiology I’ve learned through this sport and the questions I’ve been inspired to ask. In all, this is a fantastic sport, a beautiful celebration of Chinese culture, and a wonderful opportunity for all involved.
—Sharine Wittkopp ’01
I address the letter to the editor from Catherine Foster ’94 and Hilary Becker ’99 in the February Bulletin misrepresenting my Newsweek essay, “With No Boys to Ogle, We Had Time To Learn.” I am not surprised at their reaction, since I received a large number of similar responses from our sister alumnae. It is disheartening to see that Bryn Mawrters can be so entrenched in their views of gender equality that they can’t acknowledge the importance of giving women (and men) a comfortable atmosphere in which to operate, free from the distractions caused by exposure to the opposite sex.
There is nothing “backward” in maintaining that an environment that allows women to concentrate on their studies and not their social skills is beneficial. Furthermore, unless the letter writers have had experience teaching in single-sex and coed environments (as I have) they would be advised not to make dismissive comments such as “equally problematic is the assumption that co-ed education will result in nothing more than flirtation and distractions.” Having taught in all-boys, all-girls and coed schools, I feel justified in stating that the single-sex options produce students who are more serious, more dedicated to the subject matter and less likely to end up in exclusive and exclusionary cliques. That my evidence may be personal and not empirical makes it no less compelling.
I also take issue with the letter writers’ final comment that “the focus of a Bryn Mawr education [is] to produce independent, open-minded and success-ful young women in a nurturing and challenging environment that encourages an active social life.” As a former teacher, current attorney, active pro-life advocate and occasional journalist, I agree with the first part of their statement. However, I can assure them that my parents did not make significant financial and personal sacrifices so that I could have an “active social life.” On the contrary, they sent me to Bryn Mawr to develop the skills that would help me lead an honorable and successful life. That task would have been significantly more difficult on a coed campus and, much as it might disturb the letter writers, many women (and men) share this viewpoint.
—Christine Flowers ’83
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