Worth a discussion
I want to respond to David Banov’s letter about my article in the Local on September 18, “That’s My Partner! Don’t Shoot!” First, I want to thank the Local for printing it.
I appreciate Mr. Banov’s response since it might open up a dialogue. To have that dialogue, it would help to compare apples to apples. I never infer that the Main Line suburbs didn’t have a black population. I lived there for 25 years and during that time, in my neighborhood at least, there were incidents of black folks being shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One such shooting was several short blocks from my home. In addition, black men were routinely stopped by police because they were thought to be suspicious and out of place. I can’t say what it’s like today since I haven’t lived there for many years, but I do know that there are current initiatives on the Main Line that address the racial divide.
With regard to safety in other neighborhoods in Philadelphia, nothing I say in my article refers to thefts or suggests they are reserved toward any one race in particular, in our neighborhoods or elsewhere. I am totally puzzled over why Mr. Banov discusses violent crimes in the United States outnumbering soldiers fighting in the Middle East wars. In “Don’t Shoot,” I try to make a very personal statement, not only about blacks, but “other-others.” I think Mr. Banov is projecting inappropriately my intention. And that, in essence, is simply how good it feels to be part of a community that works on welcoming ‘others’ as well as reaping the benefits of diversity in our midst.
As for comparing me to Al Sharpton as a perpetrator of race baiting, first, I do not consider the Reverend’s stands on the shooting of black men, including Amadeau Diallo, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and the dire situation that occurred in Ferguson to be race baiting. If I could do an iota of what he’s been able to do by bringing more awareness to these tragedies, I would be overjoyed.
Mr. Banov says that I should stop “thinking like a victim,” I don’t believe my article suggests that I or my partner feels that way at all. Though I don’t feel that Mr. Banov’s assertions are on point to my article, I do believe that some of what he says is surely worthy of a wider discussion.
Sincerely and with hopes for more discussion,
Susan Karol Martel
Better to immerse yourself abroad
I was interested in your article a couple of weeks ago on SCH’s focus on enrolling students from China (“SCH follows U.S. trends for int’l students,” August 28) I was surprised that the Chinese students live in dormitories with other mostly Chinese-speaking students, rather than with American families.
As an immigrant to the USA who had lived with host families in France, Germany and Italy during my formative years, I cannot over-stress the value of living in a foreign land, attempting to master the language, experiencing different values and norms, and encountering different perspectives on the world through immersion into the new culture.
Programs such as that at SCH enhances the focus on the Chinese desire for academic achievement and advancement in order to return with a western education to, one assumes, China’s long-term benefit.
I want to make your readers aware of a similar program which brings high school students from around the world to live in the USA in true immersion. These students live with volunteer host families for one school year, sharing values, traditions and perspectives both in the home and in the school. The host families rarely speak the student’s language.
The visiting students’ parents pay the agent a nominal amount in the students’ own countries (for testing, travel, visas and the like); hosting public high schools do not charge tuition; hosting families volunteer to accept the student into their home. At the conclusion of the school year, the host families, the visiting students, and the school community are much changed by the experience and have acquired a deeper understanding and tolerance of others.
While there are several differences between the goals of the two programs, I wonder which program offers the greater opportunity for fostering long-ranging, inter-cultural understanding and cooperation?