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我来自哪里?一个亚裔美国人的自我追寻

更新时间:2017-1-18 18:41:36 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Finding Myself Through My College Major
我来自哪里?一个亚裔美国人的自我追寻

At some point during my freshman year in college, I went to a church in town with a friend. When the service was over, I stood up and an elderly man who sat in the pew in front of me shook my hand. I’m not sure I’d even gotten his name before he fired off, “So I suppose you’re from one of those Oriental nations, right?”

上大一时,有一次我和一个朋友去了城里的一座教堂。仪式结束时,我站起身,坐在我前面长椅上的一个老人和我握了手。我甚至不确定他是否告诉了我他的名字,就连珠炮似地问道,“所以我猜你来自那些东方国家,对吧?”

I was more shocked than offended. He’d meant it, I’m sure, without malice; I’d certainly heard worse before. I launched into a two-minute spiel about Where I’m Really From, trying to explain what it was like to be born in Montana, raised in Malaysia and going to college in Michigan. By the time I was done his eyes were glazed over and I was fumbling for the door.

我更多地是感到震惊,而不是被冒犯了。我确定他是认真的,没有恶意。我之前当然听到过更难听的话。我热情地开始了一段两分钟的套话,介绍我到底来自哪里,试图解释在蒙大拿州出生、在马来西亚长大、在密歇根州上大学是一种什么体验。到我说完时,他眼神呆滞,我则摸索着朝大门走去。

Two winters later, my speech has changed. Ask me some variant of “So where are you from?” and I smile and shrug.

又过了两个冬天,我的说辞变了。被问到类似于“那么你是哪儿人”的问题时,我会微笑着耸耸肩。

“Montana,” I say, swatting a hand vaguely westward. They ask about national parks and mountain oysters. They’ll tell me they always wanted to go there, but never did. Midwesterners, I’ve learned, are content that way. Then the conversation swivels to easier queries:

“蒙大拿,”我一边说,一边用手冲着西的方向大致指了指。他们会问到国家公园和山牡蛎。他们会对我说,他们一直想去那里,但从未成行。我了解到,中西部人对这种方式心满意足。之后,谈话便会转移到更轻松的问题上:

“What’s your major?”

“你学什么专业?”

“History and the classics? What are you going to do with that?”

“历史和古典文学?你打算用它们做什么?”

Over the years, I’ve learned to navigate these questions of identity and purpose, but still dread them. I never answer them well, never know whether I’ve said too little or too much. And perhaps even more disturbingly, sometimes I can’t even answer the question myself. Where am I from?

多年来,我学会了顺利地回答有关身份和目的的问题,但还是害怕它们。我从没回答好过,从来不知道自己是说得太少还是太多。也许更令我不安的是,有时我自己甚至都无法回答我是哪儿人这个问题。

I was born in Montana to Malaysian-Chinese parents, which is kind of like being both Polish and Jewish — one’s a nationality, one’s an ethnicity. Growing up both in America and Malaysia, I’ve spent most of life flip-flopping between the languages, cuisines and cultures I call home. I’m not one or the other. I’m somewhere in-between: a third-culture kid.

我出生于蒙大拿,父母是马来西亚华人。这有点像既是波兰人,又是犹太人,一个是国籍,一个是民族。在美国和马来西亚的成长岁月中,我大部分时候都在不同的语言、饮食和我称之为家的文化之间切换。我不是美国人,也不是马来西亚人。我处于中间地带,是一个第三文化小孩。

We spoke English at home, but when R-rated family gossip was involved my parents switched to Cantonese. My mother’s family spoke Hokkien and English, but when I went to a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur, we spoke Malay or Mandarin. When I’m in Michigan I find myself sliding into a nasal dialect of American English; in Malaysia (or in anger) my diction adopts a British-Commonwealth tone.

我们在家说英语,但涉及限制级的家长里短时,我父母会换成粤语。我母亲家说福建话和英语,但去吉隆坡的一家超市时,我们说马来语或普通话。在密歇根时,我发现自己不知不觉地习惯了说一种带鼻音的美式英语方言,而在马来西亚(或是生气时)我的发音会变成英联邦口音。

I can be archived under a plethora of labels: bookworm, American-born Chinese, suspected agent of the gay agenda. But labels can’t convey the experience of living them all at once. It’s a tension that no elevator speech or 20-page thesis could assuage. I’ve found that alongside my rebel’s gumption for individuality stands a palpable sense of gratitude. I am who I am because a century ago an 11-year-old leapt onto a schooner in South China and landed on British Malaya to work the fruit orchards. I’m me because I have two sets of founding fathers who carved forth from their great continents new nations.

我可以被归到很多标签下面:书呆子、在美国出生的华人、疑似同性恋议程代理人。但标签并不能传达出同时拥有这些身份的感受。它是一种不管是电梯里的交流,还是长达20页的论文都无法缓解的紧张。我发现,除了想要获取个性的反抗之心外,我还有一种明显的感恩之情。我之所以为我,是因为一个世纪前,中国南方一个11岁的孩子跳上一艘纵帆船,来到英属马来西亚,在果园里工作。我之所以为我,是因为我两边的祖先在各自的大陆上打造出了新的国家。

Perhaps this explains why I’m studying history and the classics. My family members are the descendants of odysseys that have taken on near-mythical proportions. Our identities are layered by many intersecting stories. Studying myth and history helps me reframe those dreaded questions about identity. It lets me converse with the distinct voices of my past and quilt together a narrative about movement in place.

这也许解释了我为什么学历史和古典文学。我的家人是历经艰苦跋涉的祖先的后代,跋涉的距离近乎神话。我们的身份因为很多相互交织的故事而呈现出不同的层次。学习神话和历史会帮我重构那些令人害怕的有关身份的问题。它让我能够用可以彰显我的过去的独特声音与人交谈,并拼凑出一通有关地点变换的叙述。

Where am I really from? That’s a long story. But that’s what history’s all about.

我到底来自哪里?说来话长。但历史就是解决这个问题的。

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