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一个哈佛学生的“假期自救指南”

更新时间:2017-12-24 10:17:40 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Home From Harvard, Back in the Holiday Hot Seat
一个哈佛学生的“假期自救指南”

A few weeks ago, I called an Uber to take me to the Boston airport for a flight home for the holidays. As I slid into the back seat of the car, the warm intonations of the driver’s accent washed over me in a familiar way.

几个星期前,我叫了一辆优步送我去波士顿机场,打算坐飞机回家度假。当我钻进汽车后座时,司机口音的温暖语调让一种熟悉的感觉涌上了我的心头。

I learned that he was a recent West African immigrant with a few young children, working hard to provide for his family. I could relate: I am the daughter of two Ethiopian immigrants who made their share of sacrifices to ensure my success. I told him I was on a college break and headed home to visit my parents.

我了解到,他是一名新近来美的西非移民,有几个年幼的孩子,他在为养家努力工作。我有同感:我是两名埃塞俄比亚移民的女儿,为了我的前程,他们作出了牺牲。我告诉他,我是大学放假,正要回家看望父母。

That’s how he found out I go to Harvard. An approving eye glinted at me in the rearview window, and quickly, we transcended the boundaries of rider and driver. I became his daughter, all grown up — the product of his sacrifice.

于是他知道了我在哈佛上学。他从后视镜向我投来了赞许的目光,很快,我们就超越了乘客和司机的界线。我变成了他的女儿,已经长大成人——是用他的牺牲换来的。

And then came the fateful question: “What do you study?”

接着就是一个致命的问题:“你在学什么?”

I answered “history and literature” and the pride in his voice faded, as I knew it might. I didn’t even get to add “and African-American studies” before he cut in, his voice thick with disappointment, “All that work to get into Harvard, and you study history?”

我回答说“历史与文学”,他声音里的自豪就消散了,我就知道会这样。我还没来得及多说一句“还有非裔美国人研究”他就插了话,他的声音中满是失望,“你费了这么大的劲进了哈佛,就学个历史?”

Here I was, his daughter, squandering the biggest opportunity of her life.

就这样,我,他的女儿,浪费了自己生命中最大的机遇。

He went on to deliver the age-old lecture that all immigrant kids know. We are to become doctors (or lawyers, if our parents are being generous) — to make money and send money back home. The implicit demand, made across generations, which my Uber driver laid out explicitly, is simple: Fulfill your role in the narrative of upward mobility so your children can do the same.

他接着就开始大谈那些移民的孩子都知道的老生常谈。我们要成为医生(或者律师,如果我们的父母足够大方)——要挣钱,再寄钱回家。我的优步司机直接敞开来说的这个代代相传的隐性要求很简单:完成你向上流动的叙事角色,好让你的孩子也可以这么做。

I wasn’t offended. If anything, I’m used to these kinds of conversations by now.

我没有觉得被冒犯。要说的话,我现在已经习惯了这种对话。

They’re very similar to the ones many college students face from their families over the holidays. At some point during the festivities, a relative’s friendly question — “How are you doing?” — morphs into the more treacherous, “What are you going to do with that degree?” It’s part of the nature of college breaks. They are a time to procrastinate on papers and postpone mental breakdowns. For those of us who are fortunate enough to travel home, they are a time to trade dining hall food for home-cooked meals. But college breaks also mean being on the hot seat.

这和许多大学生在放假回家时要面对的与家人的谈话非常相似。在节日的某个时候,亲戚一个善意的提问——“你怎么样啦?”——会变形成可憎的“你拿着这个学位能做什么?”这是大学假期的属性之一。它是一个用来拖延论文写作、推迟精神崩溃的时间。对于我们这些有幸可以回家的人来说,这还是一个能把食堂饭菜换成家常饭菜的时候。但大学放假也意味着你会被拷问。

I used to feel anxious and backed into a corner by the questioning. But now that I’m a junior in college, the routine inquiries have lost their edge. No, I still don’t have a boyfriend. Yes, I should probably gain a little weight.

我以前会感到焦虑,被问题逼到了墙角。但现在我已经大三了,这些例行的提问对我来说已经不再尖锐。对,我还没有男朋友。对,我应该再长胖一点。

For the children of immigrants, going to a school like Harvard is a community event. My parents, aunts, uncles and all of their friends take pride in my accomplishments and that’s wonderful. They also take a certain degree of ownership, and that can be a little exhausting.

对于移民的孩子来说,能去哈佛这样的学校是一个社区事件。我的父母、婶婶、叔叔以及他们所有的朋友都会为我的成就感到自豪,这样很好。他们还会认为这其中有他们的一份,这就让人感到有些疲惫了。

But it’s because they are wrapped up in my future, however it pans out. They sacrificed a lot for me and they are anxious to see me succeed. That the phenomenon extends to perfect strangers is part of the charm.

但这是因为他们在一心为我的未来付出,不论结果如何。他们为我作了许多牺牲,也迫切地想要看到我的成功。这个现象能延伸到一个完全不认识的陌生人身上,也是它的魅力之一。

There are the Uber drivers who dish out well-intentioned advice, free of charge. The dining hall worker with the same name as my mother who persistently asks how I’m doing. And the African-American woman who stopped me in a campus bookstore, and after asking if I went to Harvard, gave my hand a little squeeze.

有免费送来好心建议的优步司机,有与我妈妈名字相同、一直问我最近怎样的食堂工作人员,还有那位在大学书店里拦住我,问我是否在哈佛上学,然后捏了捏我的手的非裔美国女人。

I’m grateful for their support. This holiday season, I’ve promised myself I won’t huff and get annoyed at their inquiries. I won’t defensively respond with “but I plan to go to law school!” when I get unsolicited advice. I’ll just smile and nod, and relish the warmth of the occasion.

我很感激他们的支持。这个假期,我答应自己不会因他们的询问而生气或厌烦,不会在别人主动指点后防备性地回答“但我计划是上法学院!”。我只会笑着点头,享受这个时刻的温暖。

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