- Purchase/rental options available:
Journal of Women's History 13.2 (2001) 158
[Access article in PDF]
Lynette Yorgey's School without Walls
Susan K. Freeman
A regular participant in the National History Day competition, Lynette Yorgey has presented performance pieces over the past five years. In her sophomore year of high school, she created a performance based on the life of Austrian and Jewish physicist Lise Meitner. For the 2000 competition, she researched the situation in Afghanistan following the takeover by the fundamental Islamic political group, the Taliban. "I started out doing research on-line from my home computer and then did most of the rest of my research at George Washington University's Gelman Library," Yorgey explains. A few books were available, including ones dealing with the history of Afghanistan, giving her "a broad overview and information about the years directly before the Taliban takeover." Two more recent books, as well as a number of newspaper and magazine articles, supplemented her knowledge about Afghanistan's history, culture, and poli- tics. Adding other dimensions to Yorgey's project were World Wide Web sites and an interview she conducted with a friend's father who had worked in the U.S. Peace Corps in Afghanistan in the recent past.
Yorgey was especially interested in women's strategies of coping with the regime. During her performance, she depicted the lives of five different Afghan women, concentrating on the various ways they dealt with change. One woman accepted the new order and did not question the change; another fled to the United States. Other characters she created and performed resisted in various ways, making compromises in their courageous efforts to ensure the health and education of women of the present and future generations.
Yorgey's commitment to this project--and understanding women's lives cross-culturally--brought her a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. She recalls, "Last year, I found that the time I had spent over my years in National History Day has indeed been worth it, as I made it to the final level of national competition for the first year and then, unexpectedly, had my project named the best senior project in women's history. As I went to the awards ceremony stage I had watched others walk across for four years, I realized that the award did not mean nearly as much to me as did the knowledge that the things I have grown to be passionate about had touched the hearts of others."
Susan K. Freeman is a doctoral student in history at the Ohio State University, where she is completing a dissertation on adolescent girls and sex education in the mid-twentieth-century United States.