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老外中国“重生”记(2006-04)

(2006-03-22 16:20:26)
分类: 栏目———国际双行线
老外中国“重生”记(2006-04)
 
    由于该图片无法取得与杂志同等的比例和清晰度并存,在此只是给朋友们展示杂志内文《老外中国“重生”记》的排版风格,其真实效果以杂志为准。
    下面语音和文本为上图的相应内容。



(点击右键“另存为”可下载音频内容)

“美国文化强调个人价值。与此相反,中国传统文化却是以社会价值来评价一个人的。奇怪的是,到了中国之后我才变得真正自立起来。在这里,我开始了解自己,并在此过程中认识到了依靠他人的重要性。”
 
Being Reborn
 
老外中国“重生”记
 
keywords: reborn, individual, cultural differences, human experience

In Buddhism, when someone dies, his or her soul is “reborn” as another human or animal. Well, I'm not a Buddhist, but when I came to China, I felt like I was a baby all over again. I arrived, and all I wanted to do was sleep because of jet lag. I got a new name, but I didn't really understand what it meant. I couldn't say anything, and everything sounded like gibberish to me. I couldn't get my own food—someone had to order it for me. I couldn't even go to the bathroom on my own because I couldn't read “male” or “female!”
I had to learn the alphabet (pinyin) and sounds all over again. I had to re-learn the concepts of clean and dirty, polite and rude, time and personal space. Everyone told me to be careful crossing the street, and to wear more clothes so I would stay warm. As much as I felt like a 25-year-old child, I appreciated the “mothering” my friends gave me—it helped me adjust better and avoid being homesick the first few months.
When I talk to western friends who live in Guangxi, they sometimes joke, “In a previous life, I was a computer systems administrator,” or, “I was a mathematician in my previous incarnation.”And I know what they mean. Our experience and skills were often useless in our new language and culture. Suddenly we were incompetent and unsure, surprised as fish out of water. We were helpless infants, pushed from our comfortable womb of familiarity into a bright, noisy world we didn't understand. No wonder newborns cry and want their mothers. 
After graduating from college, I lived by myself in a new city for the first time. I began to make my own life, to be recognized for my own accomplishments and personality, to stretch socially. But in the end, I had to come to China to really understand myself as an individual. No one here knew me, and most found that I did not fit their concept of what Americans are supposed to be like. Building new friendships, learning to communicate, understanding cultural differences—all of these things showed me how rich the human experience is if you don't take it for granted.
I started out pointing and nodding with shopkeepers, but soon could put recently learned phrases to use. With practice, I could finally eat noodles with chopsticks. My first friends were all English majors, happy to help me with Mandarin and shopping while practicing their English. They and some foreign friends helped me choose between local colleges, rent an apartment, and buy household items. I was glad for their help, but made sure to do less important things on my own.
I was excited to see my progress as an individual, but at the same time, I began to realize my dependence on others, my need to connect with those around me. I thought it mattered to make a life on my own, but after accomplishing that, I realized there was something missing. I had to live in China to see my need to share life with others. I had to “be reborn” into a new culture to balance the values of individuality and society.

在佛教中,一个人死后其灵魂就“投胎”变成另一个人或动物。虽然我不是佛教徒,但来中国之后,我感到自己仿佛又变成了一个彻头彻尾的婴儿——抵达中国后,因为时差反应,我一心只想睡觉;我取了一个新名字,但并未真正理解它的含义;我啥都不会说,周围的一切听起来让我莫名其妙;我无法自己点菜而必须依靠他人替我点;我甚至无法自己去卫生间,因为我分不清“男”和“女”!
我必须从头开始学习字母(拼音)和发音。我必须重新界定干净与肮脏、礼貌与粗鲁、时间与个人空间的概念。每个人都告诉我过马路时要小心,多穿点衣服保暖等等——我感觉自己如同一个25岁的大孩子一样。朋友们给予的无微不至的照顾让我深深感激,它帮助我在最初的几个月里调整得更好,避免发生思乡病。
当我与居住在广西的西方朋友谈话时,他们有时会开玩笑说,“我上辈子是电脑系统管理员”,或者“我上辈子是数学家”。我明白他们的意思。面对新语言和新文化,我们的经验和技能常变得毫无用处,我们突然变得能力尽失、信心不足,就像离开水的鱼儿一样惊愕万分。我们好似无助的婴儿,被迫离开舒适而熟悉的子宫而来到了一个明亮而嘈杂的陌生世界——难怪新生婴儿总会啼哭着找妈妈呢。
大学毕业后,我第一次在一个新的城市里独自谋生。那时,我开始创造自己的生活,使自己的成就和人品得到他人的认可,并拓展我的社交能力。但最终到中国之后,我才真正了解了自身的概念。在这里,没有人认识我,而且大部分人发现我与他们心目中所想象的美国人相差甚远。结交新朋友、学会交流、理解不同的文化差异——所有这些让我感到人类的经历是如此丰富,只要你不将其当成是理所当然的。
在商店,我开始试着与店主比比划划,新学会的短语也很快派上了用场,而且通过练习,我最终能用筷子吃面条了。我最初的朋友都是英语专业的学生,他们都乐意帮我学习中文、和我一起逛街练习他们的英语。这些学生和一些外国朋友还帮助我挑选当地的大学、租房以及买家用。我非常感激他们的帮助,但也要求自己独立做些次要的事情。
我为自己作为个体所取得的进步感到高兴,但与此同时,我也开始意识到了我对他人的依赖,意识到我需要与周围的人进行交流。我原以为独立创造生活至关重要,但实现这个目的后,我发现自己错失了一些东西。生活在中国,我才意识到自己需要与他人分享我的生活。我需要在一个崭新的文化中“重生”,以对个人价值和社会价值进行权衡。

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