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Letter: A poor girl in America would not have had Hill’s opportunities

Fiona Hill (Lunch with the FT, FT Weekend, June 13) apparently believes she owes her success in becoming the White House Russia expert to the American dream and would not have had access to the opportunities afforded her in America had she remained in the UK where the class system would have blocked her escape from a working class life.

Possibly she was relying on the reference to the American dream to get the American Congress on her side. However, it is questionable whether as a girl living in the American equivalent of the declining coal working community she grew up in, she would have had access educationally or financially to an Ivy League college. For the American class system is every bit as real as the UK class system, albeit it is one based on money.

It is probable she owes her escape from working class life in the UK to the teachers in her Bishop Auckland school who gave her the education and encouragement to apply to top UK universities and the grant system available in the 1980s which would have made it financially possible to obtain a good degree. A good first degree gave her the opportunity to access the top American universities.

The wider choice of institutions in the US and their generally greater access to funding makes the decision to stay in America likely the correct one but her entry point as an exchange student would have been key.

Since she did not experience life as a poor girl in a deprived community in America she apparently lacks an understanding of the barriers she would have encountered and which any such girl still encounters. A poor girl in America is unlikely to ever have come as close as she did to attending Oxford along with Boris and Dave. Perhaps she should be grateful to the Oxford don who did not think she would fit in.

Anne Sutherland
Tain, Ross-shire, UK

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