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亚裔家庭望子成龙,补习班文化传至美国

更新时间:2017-10-29 11:25:48 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Asian Test-Prep Centers Offer Parents Exactly What They Want: ‘Results’
亚裔家庭望子成龙,补习班文化传至美国

On Main Street in Flushing, Queens’s Chinatown, the GPS Academy building announces itself with a sign printed in both English and Chinese, hanging over a crush of bubble-tea shops and souvenir street vendors. Inside, exactly 10 felt pennants adorn the back wall of the main office, bearing the titles “Harvard,” “Yale,” “Princeton” and so on. They seem to wield a hushed influence over the academy’s students, daring them to imagine one day being accepted to such universities. But it’s unlikely that they really need the reminder. They’ve known those names for a long while.

皇后区唐人街法拉盛的主街上,领航学术补习中心(GPS Academy)的建筑,以挤挤挨挨的珍珠奶茶店和纪念品路边摊上方的中英双语标牌宣示自己的存在。建筑内部,不多不少正好十面三角旗装饰着主办公室的后壁,上边分别印有“哈佛”、“耶鲁”、“普林斯顿”等字样。这些旗子似乎在无声地对补习中心的学生施加影响,问他们是否敢于想象有朝一日被这些大学录取的情形。不过他们其实并不需要提醒。他们早就已经熟知这些名字。

In the lobby, a lattice of makeshift certificates papers the walls. Each crimson-bordered “GPS Academy Award” boasts a name, almost always Chinese, captioned with the kind of hallmark accomplishment that just about any parent in the area would celebrate (or simply expect) from a child. A perfect SAT score, “Stuyvesant High School,” the name of an Ivy League institution. “That’s what parents are looking for,” says Lawrence Yan, the GPS founder and manager. “The results.”

大厅墙壁上的框框里展示着一些简易证书。每一张以深红色镶边的“GPS Academy Award”(领航学术补习中心奖状)上都有一个名字,通常是中文名,并列明了一些标志性的成就,该地区的任何家长大约都会因为孩子取得那样的成就而庆祝一番(或者只是期盼)。完美的SAT分数,“史岱文森高中”(Stuyvesant High School)——一家向常春藤盟校输送大量学子的机构的名字。“这就是家长们追求的东西,”领航的创始人兼校长颜谦业(Lawrence Yan)说。“结果。”

GPS Academy is an educational enrichment business that specializes in preparation for standardized tests. Students range from seventh to 12th graders, most of them from immigrant Chinese families. Group test-prep classes like these have become a coming-of-age tradition in Asian immigrant communities, which nurse entire ecosystems of businesses like this one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of New York City’s 411 prep centers are rooted in Queens and Brooklyn, with over a quarter of them springing up in the past four years alone, most notably in the boroughs’ Asian enclaves of Flushing and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. On the opposite coast, 861 such tutoring centers exist in California’s Orange, Santa Clara and Los Angeles Counties, all heavy with Asian-American families.

领航学术补习中心是一个教育补习公司,专门帮助为标准化考试做准备。学生来自七至十二年级不等,大多出自华裔移民家庭。在亚裔移民社区里,参加这种集体备考班已经成为成长必修课,领航这样的公司置身其中的整个生态系统由此得以形成。美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据显示,纽约市共有411家备考中心——其中超过四分之一是过去四年间冒出来——一多半都位于皇后区和布鲁克林,尤其是这两个行政区的亚裔聚居地:法拉盛和布鲁克林的日落公园。在对面的海岸上,加州的奥兰治县、圣克拉拉县和洛杉矶县,共有861家这样的辅导中心,那些县全都是亚裔家庭占比很高的地方。

At GPS, as with its competitors, one of the most popular courses focuses on New York City’s Specialized High School Admissions Test, an entrance requirement for eight of the city’s nine specialized high schools. (LaGuardia High, a performing-arts school, has an audition system.) Less than 20 percent of eighth graders who take the exam clear the minimum score needed to get into a specialized school, including — at the most competitive end — Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School. A typical summer class for this test at GPS lasts three hours a day, every weekday, and can cost around $1,400. But Yan says virtually all his students get into a specialized high school. He knows this because he hands out Visa gift cards once results come out: $50 for Stuyvesant, $30 for Bronx Science, $20 for the others.

与竞争对手的情况类似,在领航,最受欢迎的课程之一聚焦于纽约市的特殊高中入学考试(Specialized High School Admissions Test),要进入该市的九所特殊高中就必须过这一关。(表演艺术学校拉瓜迪亚高中[LaGuardia High] 有一套选拔体系。)参加这一考试的八年级学生当中,只有不到20%的人分数能达到进入一所特殊高中所需的最低标准,其中包括竞争最激烈的史垈文森高中、布朗克斯科学高中(Bronx High School of Science)和布鲁克林技术高中(Brooklyn Tech)。在领航,这一考试的夏季考前辅导班通常每个工作日都上课,每天三小时,费用在1400美元左右。不过颜谦业说,他的学生实际上都进入了特殊高中。他之所以知道,是因为结果一出来他就会送出Visa礼品卡:考取史垈文森高中的,能收到50美元;布朗克斯科学高中,30美元;其他学校则是20美元。

GPS also prepares students for other exams: the SAT and the ACT, Advanced Placement exams, New York Regent Examinations. Its instructors can home in on almost any potential weak spot in a college application — even extracurricular activities and personal statements can be curated with the help of one-on-one college counseling. “You know how a GPS leads you to the place you want to go?” Yan asks. “GPS Academy is basically a place where we fulfill your dreams in terms of education. So we are navigating you to the right place.”

领航还帮助学生准备其他考试:比如SAT和ACT、大学预修课程(Advanced Placement)考试,以及纽约高中会考(New York Regent Examinations)。它的教师几乎可以针对大学申请中任何潜在的弱项进行辅导——即便课外活动和个人陈述也可以通过一对一的大学入学辅导进行策划。“你知道GPS导航系统会怎么把你带到你想去的地方吗?”颜谦业问,“领航学术补习中心基本上就是我们在教育方面实现梦想的地方。所以我们是在为你导航,带你到正确的地方去。”

The GPS staff includes Ivy League alumni and full-time high school teachers; some tutors are both. Yan himself grew up in Flushing, attending the selective Da Vinci Science and Math Institute for high school. As an adult, he worked as a financial analyst until 2011, when, feeling a lack of purpose on Wall Street, he turned to the test-prep industry. “I felt like I was just part of the process,” Yan says about his former career. “But now I feel very proud when my kids get into a top school or get a very high SAT score. I see the results right away, and I feel more in control.” He floods local Chinese radio stations and newspapers with ads for GPS, but he estimates that a majority of his customers arrive through simple word of mouth. “Basically,” he says, “one person gets into Stuyvesant — all his relatives and friends ask where he went for prep.”

领航员工包括常春藤盟校毕业生和全日制高中教师;一些导师兼具这两种身份。颜谦业本人在法拉盛长大,高中上的是择优录取的达芬奇科学与数学学院(Da Vinci Science and Math Institute)。长大后,他当上了金融分析师,直至2011年,当时他感到身在华尔街的自己缺少生活目标,于是转向了备考行业。“那时我觉得自己只是工序中的一部分,”颜谦业说起他以前的职业。“但是现在,当我的孩子们进入一流学校或者取得非常高的SAT分数时,我感到非常自豪。我可以得到立竿见影的结果,感受到了更多的控制权。”他在当地的中文广播电台和报纸上为领航做了大量广告,但他估计大部分客户都是通过口碑找到他的。“基本上,”他说,“只要有一个孩子进了史岱文森高中(Stuyvesant),所有的亲戚朋友都会来问他是在哪里补习的。”

It was in a GPS Academy class for the city high-school test, three years ago, that Join Wang first met most of his close friends. That group, now juniors at Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, regrouped again this summer for SAT classes. “It’s kind of become a joke: ‘What are you going to do in the summer?’ ‘Go to prep,’” Wang says. “We all go to prep.”

三年前,在领航的纽约高中升学考试辅导班里,卓伊·王(Join Wang)结识了自己大部分最亲密的朋友。这个小圈子如今都已经成为史岱文森和布朗克斯科学高中(Bronx Science)的三年级学生,今年夏天,他们又重新聚在一起上SAT备考班。“说起来有点像笑话:‘你们今年夏天打算干点什么?’‘上预备学校,’”卓伊·王说。“我们都上了预备学校。”

Wang’s parents came to the United States from Fujian, China. He says it’s difficult to get them to open up about their past, but he knows his mother came from an affluent family of winemakers, while his dad grew up in the countryside. They started fresh here, teaching themselves English and saving money to help family members follow; now they run a laundromat business in Elmhurst, Queens. This summer, Wang and his two younger brothers shared a room with one bunk bed, taking turns sleeping on the floor’s bamboo mat. His parents were in the other bedroom, with his sister and youngest brother. If test-prep classes were ever a financial burden for them, they never showed it, brushing off Wang’s questions, he says, telling him: “You’re just a little kid. Calm down, and leave the finances to us.”

卓伊·王的父母来自中国福建。他说,很难让他们畅谈自己的过去,但是他知道母亲来自一个富裕的酒业之家,父亲则是在农村长大。他们来到美国,一切从零开始,自学英语,攒钱帮助其他家庭成员来到这里;如今他们在皇后区的艾姆赫斯特经营一家自助洗衣店。在家里,卓伊·王和两个弟弟住一个房间,屋里只有一张上下铺的床,这个夏天,三人轮流睡地上的竹席。父母带着一个弟弟和一个妹妹睡在另一个卧室里。就算备考班对他的父母来说构成了经济负担,他们也从没流露过这种情绪,卓伊·王说,不管自己有什么问题,他们都不理会,只是告诉他:“你还是小孩呢。不要慌,让我们来操心钱的事。”

Yan says many of his customers struggle financially but will still pay thousands if it helps ensure that their children can get into a prestigious high school, which will, presumably, lead to a prestigious college. “It’s more like a culture thing, you know?” he says. “They would rather not get expensive sneakers, but they will try to put their kids in a very expensive prep school.”

颜谦业说,他的很多客户在经济上都有困难,但是如果有助于确保孩子进入一个有名望的高中,从而有可能进入一个有名望的大学,那么他们仍愿意支付数以千计的金钱。“这更像是一种文化上的东西,你懂吗?”他说。“他们宁愿不买昂贵的运动鞋,但他们会尽量让孩子去上非常昂贵的预备学校。”

Traces of the Asian tutoring industry have emerged in the United States after each wave of immigration from countries like China and South Korea, says Pyong Gap Min, a sociology professor at Queens College in the City University of New York. They began in the 1960s, Min says, after the repeal of longstanding exclusionary immigration laws — but it was in the 1980s that cities like New York first saw a notable presence of supplemental educational centers, following a swell of migration from China, Korea and South Asia. Min considers the test-prep centers of Flushing offshoots of their origin countries’ rigorous “cram schools,” called bǔ xí bān in China and hagwon in South Korea. This rigor is seen as necessary to keep up with national test-based systems like China’s, where a single exam determines university placement. “It’s Confucian to emphasize your children’s education,” Min says. “You go to China, Korea and Taiwan, there’s after-school programs that they transplanted here.”

纽约市立大学(City University of New York)皇后区学院(Queens College)的社会学教授平甲敏(Pyong Gap Min,音)表示,在中国和韩国等国的多次移民浪潮之后,亚洲辅导行业的痕迹就出现在了美国。平甲敏称,它们是在20世纪60年代废除长期的排外移民法后出现的,不过在20世纪80年代,中国、韩国和南亚移民大量涌入之后,纽约等城市才第一次明显注意到补充教育中心的存在。平甲敏认为法拉盛的备考中心是那些移民祖国严格的“填鸭式学校”的衍生物——在中国叫“补习班”,在韩国叫“补习学校”。这种严格的要求被认为是与中国等国以考试为基础的全国教育体系相一致的必要做法——在中国,一次考试决定能上什么大学。“是儒家在强调孩子的教育,”平甲敏说。“你去中国、韩国和台湾看看,都有课后班,它们被传到了这里。”

The preparation certainly pays off; Asian students from varying backgrounds are now a majority in New York’s most competitive public schools. Stuyvesant is three-quarters Asian, and Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech’s shares are over 60 percent. This has come with its share of controversy; a federal complaint, filed by a coalition of advocacy groups in 2012, argued that the high-stakes, single-exam admissions process has a discriminatory impact on black and Latino children (who may find fewer resources and opportunities to prepare for it), and should consider a wider set of factors, like previous grades, interviews or teacher recommendations. (The Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights announced that it would open an investigation, though the current status of that investigation is unclear. Only the New York State Legislature — not New York City itself — can change the admissions policy for the schools.)

备考当然是有回报的,来自不同背景的亚裔学生现在在纽约最具竞争力的公立学校里占多数。在史岱文森高中,四分之三的学生是亚裔,在布朗克斯科学高中和布鲁克林技术高中,亚裔学生的比例超过60%。这也引发了争议。2012年,一个倡议团体联盟提起的联邦诉讼声称,关系重大的单一考试录取过程对黑人和拉美裔儿童产生了歧视性影响(他们能找到的备考资源和机会更少),应该将一系列更广泛的因素考虑进来,比如之前的成绩、面试或教师推荐(司法部[The Justice Department]的民权办公室[Office of Civil Rights]宣布,它将展开调查,但目前尚不清楚调查的具体情况。只有纽约州的立法机关——而不只是纽约市本身——可以更改学校的招生政策)。

But David Lee — a Brooklyn Technical High School class of 1978 alumnus — argues that students at the three most competitive specialized schools are not necessarily economically privileged: About 40 to 60 percent of them qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Lee is a leader of Coalition Edu, a group that defends the test-based admissions policy, joining a chorus of former students who say cultural values and an exceptional work ethic have pushed Asians of all income groups to excel in the specialized high school system.

但是,1978年从布鲁克林技术高中毕业的戴维·李(David Lee)说,能上三所竞争力最强的特殊高中的学生,并不一定来自经济条件优越的家庭:他们中大约有40%到60%的人有资格享受免费或减价午餐。戴维·李是捍卫以考试为基础的招生政策的组织联合教育联盟(Coalition Edu)的领导人之一,该组织和许多从这些特殊高中毕业的学生都说,文化价值观和杰出的刻苦工作精神促使来自所有收入阶层的亚洲人在特殊高中的系统里表现优异。

Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, says such perceptions of Asian exceptionalism percolate in both liberal and conservative circles, with conservatives using Asian success as a main point in arguing against affirmative-action policies. But that shouldn’t suggest, she says, that other minorities don’t value hard work or education. She argues in “The Asian American Achievement Paradox,” her 2015 book with Min Zhou, that much of Asian-Americans’ educational attainment actually stems from a hyperselective immigration policy: A 2015 census report found that a majority of Chinese immigrants have college degrees, a distinction matched by fewer than one-third of Americans as a whole and only 16 percent of the population in China itself.

哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)社会学系教授詹妮弗·李(Jennifer Lee)说,这种亚裔例外论的看法渗透在自由派和保守派的圈子里,保守派把亚裔的成功作为反对平权政策的一个主要论据。但她说,亚裔的成功并不意味着其他少数族裔不重视努力工作或教育。她在与周敏(Min Zhou,音)合著、出版于2015年的《亚裔美国人成就悖论》(The Asian American Achievement Paradox)一书中指出,亚裔美国人在教育上的成就实际上源于一种具有高度选拔性的移民政策:2015年的一份人口普查报告发现,华人移民中多数拥有大学学位,与之相比,美国全国人口中拥有大学学位的人低于三分之一,而在中国本身只有16%的人口有大学学位。

The fortunes of educated Asian immigrants become what’s known as “ethnic capital,” a stock of knowledge and resources that can trickle down — through networks ranging from test-prep centers to religious institutions to ordinary family and social connections in immigrant enclaves — and benefit less established families as well. According to David Lee, demand for supplemental classes is higher for Asian immigrant families that are not as wealthy: “They’re hungrier,” he says. “They need to have this as a steppingstone.” And since they’re often utterly unfamiliar with the American college-admissions process, having obtained degrees overseas or not at all, test-prep schools can be an essential tool. “So working-class families sacrifice what they have,” he says.

受过高等教育的亚裔移民的际遇已成为所谓的“种族资本”,这是一种可涓滴的知识和资源储备,通过各种社会网络——从备考中心到宗教机构,再到移民聚集地区的普通家庭和社会关系——也惠及了条件不那么好的家庭。据戴维·李说,对并不富裕的亚裔移民家庭来说,补课的需求更高:“他们有更多的渴求,”他说。“他们需要这种踏脚石。”而且,由于新移民或是在外国获得学位,或是根本没有学位,他们对美国大学的录取过程一无所知,备考学校对他们来说是一个必要的工具。“所以,工薪家庭要为孩子牺牲他们的一切,”他说。

Join Wang still remembers the pressure of the city test in eighth grade, which had everyone competing for admission to Stuyvesant. He felt nervous during the beginning and the end of the exam and believes he was too careless in the middle. Rushing through without checking his work is, he says, “a pretty big problem for me.” Early the next year, when scores were revealed, his middle-school Spanish class became a flurry of children opening letters and discovering their test scores. Wang read “551” on his own letter — just a few points short, he’d later learn, of a score that could have won him a place at Stuyvesant. He was able to hold his tears back until a classmate noticed his downcast face and offered a hug. He politely declined. That’s when the sobs came. “It was kind of like anarchy,” he recalls. “They made sure to give it to us the last class in case this happened.”

卓伊·王仍然记得八年级时参加纽约市特殊高中考试时的压力,所有想上史岱文森高中的人都要经历这个竞争。他在考试开始和结束时都很紧张,觉得自己在答题时太粗心了。他说,匆匆忙忙地做题但不检查自己的答案,“这是我的一个相当大的毛病。”第二年年初考试分数出来时,他的初中西班牙语课上一群孩子忙着打开信封看自己的考试成绩。他在自己收到的信里看到的分数是“551”,他后来得知,这个分数比能让他在史岱文森高中获得一席之地的分数低了几分。他强忍着眼泪,直到一个同学注意到他沮丧的脸,表示想给他一个拥抱。他礼貌地拒绝了,却再也无法忍住泪水。“当时的情况有点像无政府状态,”他回忆道。“学校有意在最后一堂课上把分数发给我们,就是为了防止出现这种情况。”

The conversation with his parents that night seemed anticlimactic in comparison. “I got into Bronx Science,” he said, as if confessing to a small disobedience. “Oh, it’s not the end of the world,” his dad responded. But Wang couldn’t help feeling disappointed. “You know, they’re my parents,” he says. “I don’t want to make them sad or anything.”

相比之下,当晚与父母的谈话反而显得容易了。“我进了布朗克斯科学高中,”他说,好像是在承认自己犯了个小错似的。“哦,这不是世界末日,”他的父亲回答道。但卓伊·王仍不免感到有些失望。“这么说吧,他们是我的父母,”他说。“我不想让他们伤心或怎么地。”

Wang has never thought of his mother and father as “tiger parents,” that stereotype of the cold, disapproving Asian parents who demand success, on threat of denouncing their child as a dishonor to the family. Wang’s parents, he says, just want him to be happy. “But my dad also wants me to get into Harvard, just like every other Asian dad!” he says with a laugh.

卓伊·王从来不觉得他的父母是“虎妈虎爸”,那是一种感情冷淡、总对孩子表示不满意的亚裔父母的刻板印象,他们用谴责孩子给家庭带来耻辱的威胁要求孩子成功。卓伊·王说,他的父母只是想让他快乐。“但我爸也想让我上哈佛,就像所有其他的亚裔爸爸那样!”他笑着说。

His comments reflect the unspoken contract that the children of immigrants often perceive: Because our parents sacrificed so much for us, we will always be in their debt. Those expectations weighed heavily over my own hometown, Cupertino, Calif., an affluent suburb full of Asian immigrants working high-skill STEM jobs in Silicon Valley. Local parents poured exorbitant shares of their income into mortgages to secure their children spots in public schools regularly ranked among the nation’s best — and then poured even more into supplementary tutoring classes, music lessons, sports leagues and more.

他的话反映了移民子女常常觉察到存在的一种不成文的契约:因为我们的父母为我们付出了太多,所以我们将永远在感情上欠他们的债。这些期望在我的老家加州库比蒂诺(Cupertino)也让人感到沉重,库比蒂诺是一个富裕的郊区,住的都是在硅谷从事科学、技术、工程、数学(简称STEM)这种需要高级技术工作的亚裔移民。为了确保他们的孩子能上当地的公立学校(这些学校在全国的排名都很靠前),这里的父母把他们收入中高得离谱的份额花在抵押贷款上,然后还在更多的补习班、音乐课、体育联赛,以及更多的课外活动上花大钱。

I did not quite express the same gratitude for this as Wang does. I spent my time fuming over being born into a hypercompetitive bubble and missing out on the “true” high school experience. When the time came for summer SAT classes, I made a point of not paying attention or finishing the homework packets, out of sheer annoyance with my parents. I wished I could just live a “normal” life. But as soon as I escaped the Bay Area and moved to the Midwest, I saw that being normal was never entirely possible for me, whether socially or professionally. “The Asian American Achievement Paradox” touches on this, too: Despite supposedly positive stereotypes of Asians, we still face what Lee calls a “bamboo ceiling,” keeping us from leadership positions and from recognition in more subjective career fields — which tend not to favor a demographic that lacks networking connections and has long been imagined to be uncreative or submissive. This, she says, is why some Asian immigrant parents view their children’s future through such narrow lenses. “In order for their kids to succeed as minorities,” she says, “having the right credentials, scoring well and getting into a top school can achieve mobility in a field where you might be less likely to experience discrimination.”

我并没有像卓伊·王那样对父母有同样的感激之情。我把高中的时间花在生气上了,我恨自己生在一个超级竞争的泡沫里,没能经历“真正的”高中生活。到了上SAT考试的暑期补习班的时候,我故意上课不专心,也故意不完成家庭作业,这都是为了让我父母烦恼。我只是希望我能过一种“正常”生活。但当我逃离湾区,搬到中西部时,我发现,过正常生活对我来说从来都不那么简单,无论是在社会上还是在职场上。《亚裔美国人成就悖论》一书中对这个问题也有所触及:尽管对亚裔人有貌似正面的刻板印象,但我们仍然面临着詹妮弗·李称之为“竹子天花板”的情况,让我们得不到领导岗位,在判断更主观的职业领域得不到承认,这些领域往往对在其中欠缺人际关系的群体不那么欢迎,而且长期以来,亚裔被认为缺少创造力,还唯命是从。詹妮弗·李说,这就是为什么一些亚裔移民父母用非常狭隘的目光来看待他们孩子的未来。“为了让他们的孩子成为成功的少数族裔,”她说,“拥有合适的证书,取得良好的成绩,进入一所顶尖学校,可以让人在一个不太可能经历歧视的领域获得流动能力。”

There’s also the concept Lee calls “parental bragging rights.” When immigrants move to the United States, she points out, they often experience a drop in status — socially, professionally and legally. Some will never regain that stature, settling over the long term for more menial jobs. But they may attempt to recoup some standing through their children’s success. Chris Kwok, a 1992 Stuyvesant graduate who knows Wang from church, grew up in a working-class family in Flushing; in China, his father had been an engineer, but in Queens, he worked as a blue-collar city contractor, and Kwok’s mother was employed in a garment factory. For his first summer prep class, Kwok recalls: “I made no decision. It was just, ‘This is what you’re doing.’”

还有一个詹妮弗·李称之为“父母炫耀权利”的概念。她指出,当移民来到美国时,他们通常会在社会上、职业上和法律上有一种地位下降的感觉。有些人将永远无法重新获得他们以前的地位,只能不得不长期从事较为卑微的工作。但是,他们可能试图通过孩子的成功来挽回一些地位。1991年从史岱文森高中毕业的克里斯·郭(Chris Kwok),在教会里认识了卓伊·王。克里斯·郭在法拉盛的一个工人阶级家庭长大,他的父亲在中国时曾是一名工程师,但在皇后区,他是纽约市的一名蓝领合同工。克里斯·郭的母亲在一家服装厂工作。克里斯·郭回忆说,第一次上暑期预科班,“我没有做任何决定。父母说,‘这是你要做的事情。’就那么简单。”

The programs he attended in the late 1980s, he remembers, were “terrible,” but at least half his classmates got into either Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, in part because the classes forced a certain kind of discipline. “My parents spent money that they earned,” he says. “The message is that you’re supposed to be paying attention to studying. If you didn’t, you know, you just felt guilty.”

在他的记忆里,虽然他在1980年代末参加的暑期班“很糟糕”,但至少有一半的同学进了史岱文森高中或布朗克斯科学高中,部分原因是这些课程给学生强加了某种自制力。“我的父母把他们赚来的钱花在我身上,”他说。“所传递的信息是,你应该下功夫学习。如果你不下功夫,你知道,你只会感到内疚。”

Now that Wang is halfway through high school, he wonders at times where he will go from there. He admits that he would like to leave New York and try being independent for a while. But, he says, “my No. 1 priority is making my parents happy, because they have done so much for me. After that is what I like.”

现在,卓伊·王的高中已上完一半,他有时会想他下一步会去哪里。他承认他想离开纽约,试着独立生活一段时间。但他说,“我的首要任务是让我父母高兴,因为他们为我付出了这么多。那之后,才是做我喜欢的事情。”

On a recent Saturday, Wang was logging in to check his SAT results at a Thai cafe near his house. “Oh!” he exclaimed, breaking into a sly smile at the score that emerged. “Checking my answers was so worth it.”

最近的一个周六,卓伊·王正在他家附近的一家泰国咖啡馆里登录查看他的SAT成绩。“哦!”他惊呼道,看着眼前的分数,他露出了狡黠的笑容。“检查我的答案真值了。”

Was he going to celebrate? Wang wasn’t sure; it might be premature. His parents had already started him on private college counseling. He would have plenty of time to relax and pursue hobbies later, he said — once he had a solid job. I was reminded of a phrase he had recited earlier, one that almost every Chinese child has heard, including me: “Xiān kǔ hòu tián.” First bitter, then sweet.

他要庆祝吗?卓伊·王不确定,这可能为时尚早。他的父母已经开始掏钱让他咨询上私立大学的事儿。他说,等他以后有了一份好工作后,他会有足够的时间放松,追求业余爱好。这让我想起了他之前说过的一句常用语,包括我在内的几乎每个华人孩子都听说过:“先苦后甜。”

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