A Tree Grew in Illinois
In 1954, I chose to go to Wellesley because it had the most beautiful campus of any other college I had seen. (The education was pretty great, too.) The beautiful article on the Wellesley landscape (“A Sense of Place,” fall 2021) reinforced my memories of the inspiring landscape, and I’m so glad that time and progress has not damaged the campus. The present students are lucky to have even more beautiful surroundings and courses in environmental studies. I hope they are motivated to improve the environment by planting trees. … I planted a red oak acorn in my Illinois backyard in 1972, and it is now towering above the house. When we moved to a wooded acre in 1985, I spared five of the squirrel-acorn-planted baby oak “weeds” when mowing the lawn. By the time we left in 2011, the bur oak trees were 15 feet tall. One day, I saw a chart in the Morton Arboretum showing the size of the largest trees in the state. There was a very large red oak in my backyard, and I measured the C.H.D. (chest height diameter). It was 5 feet larger than the one mentioned in the list. I planned to call the arboretum the next day to put my tree on the list, but a strong windstorm during the night caused the tree to fall to the ground. It left a 6-foot-high stump that was hollow inside, with only a foot of tree around its perimeter. I guess it didn’t want to become famous.
Mary Benedict Sauer ’58, Naples, Fla.
The Cross-Generational Connection
Oh, what a beautiful story Fatimah shares about “Nana” (“Thank You, Nana,” fall 2021). This type of authentic, accepting, open, cross-generational connection is the real gift the Wellesley network gives us. This story moved me to tears and reminded me of the close alums from prior generations who have shared their inner thoughts and opened my heart and mind with their friendship. How lucky we are to be part of the network.
Annie Crawford ’00, Williston, Vt.
Gratitude for Wellesley and Alumnae
Beautifully written thank-you note to Nana (“Thank You, Nana,” fall 2021). Fatimah Gilliam ’96 has not only reminded us of the importance of friendship and gratitude, but we are also reminded of the life-changing experiences that Wellesley afforded us as students. Rest in peace, Nana, and long live the amazing women educated at Wellesley College.
Tracy Pilgrim ’96, Vieux Fort, St. Lucia
No Art by Women?
Why do we have sculptures done by men rather than women (“A Myth Carved in Stone,” fall 2021)? And Wellesley women at that?
Ellen “Denny” Stein CE/DS ’92, Fremont, Calif.
A Fine Line Between Visibility and Invisibility
I truly like the title “The Fight Against Invisibility” (fall 2021); it is loaded.
I have fought against being invisible all my life, even before I immigrated to the United States. As an Asian immigrant, I do understand why the older generation of non-American born Asian Americans to which I belong tend not to make waves, not because of the “model minority” complex, but because they do not want to draw attention to themselves, inviting troubles into their lives, especially if they are undocumented, and perhaps they wish to be accepted as one of “them.”
I, as an educated Asian American immigrant, experienced racial discrimination and harassment during my professional life and fought hard against them but without much success. My reward was further marginalization and the road for me to achieve career advancement was made long and difficult by the powers that be. In the end, for voicing my opinion, I still remained invisible and was not accepted as one of “them.” Being a minority, it is not easy to walk the fine line between visibility and invisibility.
When the coronavirus was unfortunately called the China virus, Asian Americans immediately became visible; they were targeted for violence and blamed for the ravages caused by the virus on the world.
I believe the “model minority” myth does not help to advance the visibility of Asian Americans. It is up to the American-born Asian Americans to fight for visibility and recognition of Asian Americans in our country; they are in a better position to do so. The current climate of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness hopefully is not just a passing phase, but will bring about real changes.
Kwan Kew Lai ’74, Belmont, Mass.
How Do We Make Change?
I become increasingly disappointed by the articles in the alum magazine. The most recent issue featured an article on “anti-Asian hate” (“The Fight Against Invisibility,” fall 2021). My problem is that much of the magazine focuses on discussions of issues rather than on action we, as individuals, can take to make this world a better place. This article in particular hit a minefield with me. I was told by an elementary school teacher that girls shouldn’t learn math. I have been subject to discrimination in the workplace by a member of another minority group—because of what I was, not who I was. As a magazine from an educational institution, I firmly believe you should be proactive, to encourage people to embrace and accept their differences, to use the opportunity to teach about the cultural differences that separate us. Otherwise articles like this risk propagating the problem. My household receives alum magazines from four different institutions. The other three do a much better job of educating their readers on long-term issues and presenting a clear way forward to making the world better. It’s sad that Wellesley has opted to take a different direction.
Susan Berets ’84, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
From the Editor: We welcome thoughts from alums about how to make our world a more equitable place. In “The Fight Against Invisibility,” we felt it was important to devote a significant amount of space to describing the scope of the problem of discrimination and hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders precisely because, as Amy Yee ’96 poignantly described, it has long been overlooked by the media, and as Yee further wrote, education can be an important first step in enacting change.
A Lasting Influence
I attended Wellesley as a pre-med biology major during the tumultuous construction of the “new” Science Center. Classes were shoehorned into dusty old labs, moved into the library when the ceilings leaked, ushered into new lecture halls while seats were still being screwed to the floors, and classrooms sometimes were challenging to locate when demolition caused barricades to spring up in hallways and stairwells. It was fun searching through old, disused corridors to find alternative routes around the building. For my four years, I was constantly amazed at the emerging modern architecture that embraced the ancient bricks of Sage with new colored columns, high ceilings, and endless glass. And amidst it all was Professor Dorothea Widmayer (“In Memoriam,” summer 2021), overseeing the construction and science faculty, holding classes despite the dust and jackhammers, and inspiring a new generation of scientists. She was a tough taskmaster and demanding educator, pushing us all to do more, better, faster. She fostered my love of genetics and evolution, and nurtured my self-confidence to undertake any challenge with logic and persistence. Today, as a science teacher myself, her instructional methods underlay my own. Now I am teaching genetics and evolution to a new generation, and her wisdom is still guiding me. Gone but certainly not forgotten, Dr. Widmayer. Thank you for sharing your passions and gifts.
Sarah Faulkner ’78, Collinsville, Conn.