There are better ways to gain self-respect

I am greatly disturbed. I just finished reading the article titled “Chance encounter changes self-image” in the Nov. 17 News. The caption under the photo, “gained self-confidence and respect on a trip to Italy,” is what initially caught my eye because my older daughter spent two years in Italy and it certainly helped her self-confidence.

The article began with the author, a college student spending a month in Rome studying economics and politics, as a member of a group of girls she described as “stuck-up, back-stabbing, prep-school rejects.” I felt bad for her. She joined these girls for a night on the town, which is fine, and they ended up in a pub for “British expats and tourists.” The article went downhill from there, as her confidence booster involved putting herself in a potentially compromising situation that could have ended very badly – and often does for other girls.

I am shocked that this article would be featured on the front page of the Life & Arts section as a Women’s Voices article. I thought that women were trying to fight against the idea of needing the attention of a sleazy guy who probably hits on girls every night looking for a one-night stand to gain confidence and self-respect.

To gain self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment in a foreign country, break away from the stereotypical studying abroad party mold. Immerse yourself in the culture, history, art and architecture of the city. Learn some Italian, even if it’s just enough to order an espresso. Make some real friends from other cultures and broaden your worldview. Please don’t waste such an opportunity by using it to further the mistaken notion that young women need to compromise themselves in order to gain some “respect.”

Michael Zwink

Clarence Center