[作者父亲的话]
虾女的这篇文章发表在美国著名的媒体上,写于20179月初飞往西非之前在纽约肯尼迪国际机场转机时,那时她刚刚高中毕业不久。
她在前法国殖民地塞内加尔度过了大约一年的gap year(间隔年),在那里的一所高中她用刚学的法语教英文,离开时法文已达AP水平。她也学会了当地土著语言。她还和两位同伴创建了英语学习电台,从募捐买下黄金时段的频道到播音制作节目,临离开时又制定规章使之传承给接手人,完全亲力亲为。这段"非人"的生活收获极大。结束非洲的项目后的那年秋季,她开始了在牛津的大学生活。
女儿的这篇文章最初发在她自己的博客上,然后先被著名的Huffington Post看中,经考虑女儿拒绝了该媒体转载,后来被另一家专注教育的媒体看中而刊登。
本虾初读此文时是女儿刚到非洲时,心中有许多感慨,时有泪花模糊了文字。过去我对她的任性以及由此而来的担忧和牵挂有了些许缓解,而对她的理解和骄傲又增了一分。老爸需要和女儿一起成长,做父亲的要有一颗大心脏,让孩子走最远的路,做最好的自己。

Taking Charge of My Own Learning
我的学习我做主
作者:Shannon Yang, 翻译:《奴隶社会》编辑
Why are you taking a gap year?”
为什么你决定“gap year”(间隔年)
The question would often catch me unprepared, like astorm coming earlier than forecasted. I would often shrug and tell the curious askerthat I just needed a little more time, or that I felt burnt out, or that I was young for my grade anyway.
这个问题常令我措手不及,像一场提前到来的风暴。我常耸耸肩,告诉那个好奇的提问者,我只是需要再多一点时间,或者我感觉有些疲倦,又或者我反正比同级学生更小[注:作者曾跳了一级]。
Though all of these answers were true, they felt shallow and incomplete and, most importantly, they lacked a sense of direction – a narrative that made my goals clear. So after reflecting on this exact question all summer, I was able to determine what my intentions were. I can now tell you basically a million reasons why I’m taking a gap year or why you should, too. And most central to this reasoning is the idea of learning.
尽管所有这些回答都是真实存在的,它们却让我感觉浅薄、不完整。更为重要的是,这些回答缺少方向感,而那是一种让我的目标更明确的表述。我花了整个暑假沉思这一问题的答案,终于,我想清楚了自己最真诚的意图。这也就是为什么尽管我可以告诉你一百万个进行gap year的理由,我还是想说,最重要的原因,是(我想要真正地/自主)学习。
The word “learning,” as it has come to mean in oursociety, has been synonymous with “school”: a mandatory, formal and structured system put in place to educate the next generation. The problem with this 1:1 correspondence between learning and school is that it fails to recognize that school often is not conducive to learning and that sometimes the best learning occurs outside of the classroom.
在我们这个社会中,学习已成为了学校的同义词,一个用于教育下一代的强制性的、正式的、结构化的系统。这种学习和学校之间的一一对应关系存在一个问题:它没有意识到学校常常是不利于学习的,而最宝贵的学习有时恰恰在教室之外
In the context of my gap/bridge year, it’s been difficult for me to internalize this idea for myself, despite the fact that I was exposed to “alternate paths to success” and the idea wasn’t difficult to grasp intellectually. Fears pop up in my head comparing me to my friends, who are leaving for college, to learn and to grow and to lead, while I would be creating a “gap” in my life.
就我的gap year计划而言,尽管我早就知道成功的路径不止一条(这一概念并不难于理解,)我还是很难内化gap year的想法并与之和平相处。同侪压力有时让我感到恐惧:我的朋友们会进入大学,学习、成长、并成为领袖,而我似乎正在主动选择给生命创造一个缺口
For the first eight-ish years of my public school journey, school was incredibly fun. I haven’t been able to process or reflect on this until recently, but I remember the day my first-grade teacher, Ms. Bruno, asked the class to split our mini whiteboards into halves of the same shape and equal area. We each squeaked our markers and drew a line either horizontally or vertically across the center of our little rectangles. As we wiped our rags to erase, she asked us to split it into quarters, to which were sponded by drawing pluses and X’s. Then eighths. And then Ms. Bruno asked us to do thirds, and we were all stumped.
(事实上,)我在公立学校的前八年过得非常愉快。尽管直到最近我才有机会去反思我的这段经历,我始终记得一年级时的一堂课。老师Ms. Bruno让我们把自己的小白板分成形状大小相同的两半,我们每个人都兴奋地掏出马克笔,通过小小矩形的中心画出了或横向或纵向的线条。我们把笔迹擦掉后,老师又让我们把小白板分成四块,我们也很快的解决了问题:我们经过白板中心画出“+”号或者一个“X”。八等分也不是什么难事。突然,Ms. Bruno让我们把白板三等分,我们一时被难倒了。
My classmates and I drew lines from the center of the board, almost peace-symbol-looking, spread out at 120-degree angles. One student I peeked at who was frustrated at the rectangular shape of the board had actually drawn a circle on it and split that circle into three slices. After much agony, something finally clicked and I had a breakthrough. I realized that, unlike the other examples, the solution wasn’t to have equal sectors radiating out from a center but to draw two parallel lines on the board. I was mind blown. With two proud squeak noises, I had completed the challenge, and slowly, the whole class had figured it out, too.
我的同学和我经过白板中心画出了一个类似和平标志的形状,线条两两之间成120度夹角。我(甚至)看到一个因把矩形三等分而困扰的学生选择去画一个圆在白板上并把圆三等分。经过一阵苦思,我脑海突然灵光一现。我意识到,与之前的情况不同,这次的解决办法并不是画出通过中央辐射的线条,而是在白板上画出两条平行线。我终于想出来了!随着马克笔两声骄傲的嗄吱声,我圆满完成了挑战。逐渐地,其他同学也想出了解决办法。
It was moments like these that drove me to push myself. Moments that made me itch in curiosity. Moments that provided me with the exhilarating thrill of figuring something out that was so new and unfamiliar and challenging, yet so rewarding. I loved being able to connect what I had so ingeniously figured out to the next concepts we learned. And since I had figured it out myself rather than things just being told to me, I felt like I was playing an active role in my education and was able to understand the concepts better because I understood why. I was encouraged to ask questions, to find creative solutions and to collaborate with my peers.
正是像这样的时刻激励我不断超越自我。在这些时刻,我的好奇心蠢蠢欲动;在这些时刻,我面对全新的未知的挑战,(而能够不胆怯地冲上前去,)享受解决问题后令人振奋的快乐。我喜欢将我创见性的想法与下一步要学习的内容有机结合起来。而正因为我是自主性地弄明白了这些问题而不是被填鸭式地告知答案,我感觉在自己的教育中承担了更积极的角色,知道为什么让我对这些概念有了更好的理解。(在这八年,)我被鼓励去提问,去找到更有创造力的解决方式,去和同伴们团结合作。

As I approached the high school years, things began to change. At some point, I had stopped deriving formulas and started to memorize them blindly just to regurgitate them. I didn’t understand how they connected, how they fit into a bigger picture. I had lost the meaning in homework — it was often frustrating and felt like a waste of time. Suddenly, school became a race for the best grades, the best scores. It became unsafe to take risks, to be creative, and to make mistakes. It became seemingly impossible to fail and come out of the other side okay.
当我升入高中后,事情发生了变化。不知何时开始,我不再需要推演公式,而是为了能够快速枚举而盲目记忆它们。我并不理解它们是如何相互联系的,以及它们在整个知识体系中处于何种位置。我也不知道作业的意义在哪里——做作业经常只是令人懊丧,让我感觉是在浪费时间。突然地,学校变成了一个分数的竞速场。尝试承担风险、尝试更有创造力、尝试犯错误都成为了不安全的选项。失败看起来代价沉重,而你难以摆脱它的阴影。
The purpose of grades is to incentivize students to dowell in school and to measure their progress, whether that means for themselves or for parents or for college apps. But sometimes the best learning happens between or beyond the metrics, and doing well in school didn’t always mean learning. It meant quickly cramming and just as quickly un-cramming, filling in the blanks and writing to fulfill the bullets on the rubric rather than to simply write well.
(我知道)分数的本意是衡量学生的学习成果并激励他们好好学习,无论这种意义是在于学生自身、学生家长、或是大学申请。但有时候最好的学习过程并不能够用分数衡量,在学校表现好也不总意味着真正学到东西。好成绩有时只意味着学得快忘得快,填空或写出标准格式的要点,这甚至称不上是合意的写作。
Through the value placed on grades over learning itself, I had lost my intrinsic motivation to succeed and was faced with the decision to compromise my values for the larger system at play. In fact, multiple teachers in my high school career have told me that what I needed wasn’t to get good at the subject matter. It was to get good at playing the game – at “doing school.”
重视成绩多于学习过程本身的后果是,我失去了内心最真诚的对于成功的渴望,并且面临着在这个巨大的既定系统中妥协自我价值的难题。事实上,高中阶段遇到的许多老师都告诉我说,了解事情的本质并不重要,重要的是在上学这个游戏中成为赢家。
How do you expect me to think deeply when I’ve been continuously wading in this shallow scenario? How do you expect me to think outside of the box when my classrooms my whole life have been boxes?
当我不断地在浅薄的脚本里涉水时,你如何期望我能深入地思考?当我的课堂我的整个生命都一直在框框里时,你如何期待我想问题跳出框框?
In the classroom, nothing real is at stake. Your dignity, reputation or friendships are never really on the line — only your grade is. So important skills like grit and empathy are turned into impersonal, robotic factors if they are even considered at all. In the classroom, decisions are made for you without ever needing critical thinking, and there are right and wrong answers, with no gray areas.
在课堂上,没有什么真正的危险。你的尊严,名誉或者友情从来不会被危及——只有成绩会。所以像性格坚毅或者富有同理心这样重要的品质几乎不会被考虑在内,即使考虑,它们也会被量化为客观的、机械的指标。在课堂里,为你做的决定根本不需要批判性思维,只有正确或错误的答案,没有灰色地带。
Over the past week, I’ve connected with others who will be embarking on similar journeys, and I’ve realized that though I may come from a high school with a reputation for being especially competitive and stressful, my experience with the education system is nowhere near unique. It’s echoed in the stories of students from different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses, throughout the nation and even the world. We’ve all been stuckrunning on the treadmill of a toxic system, a broken system. And through our gap years, we are getting off.
在过去的一周里,我与一些将与我走向相似征途的人建立了联系。通过交流我意识到,尽管我所在的高中以竞争激烈和充满压力而闻名,我在教育体系中的经历却实在十分普遍。我在这些来自全国各地甚至世界各地、具有不同背景和社会经济条件的学生的故事中找到了我自己故事的影子。这是个支离破碎的有毒的教育系统。这个系统中的我们像在跑步机上跑步,永不停歇,却又从未前进半分。而gap year会是我真正踏下这台跑步机的时候。
I need to rekindle that love of learning that I’ve always had, feel the same sparks of curiosity that I felt in first grade. And I’m not ashamed that I have to take a year “off” to do that. I need some time to cleanse myself, to take life slowly and to be carefree. I want to learn according to my own needs, not for my goals to be dictated by an educational institution. To me, it’s actually a year on.
我需要重燃我对于学习的热爱,唤起我在一年级时曾抱有的探索未知的好奇。我并不感觉花一年脱离去做好这一点是一件令人羞愧的事。我需要一些时间来清洗头脑,从容生活,抛却忧虑。我的学习会出于我自己的热情和需要,而不是某个教育机构指定的目标。对我来说,这其实是上阵的一年。
For the next year, the world is my classroom. It has so much to teach and to offer. I can’t wait to immerse myself in a new language and culture, build connections with those around me, be vulnerable and open to new experiences, understand global issues from a different perspective, learn how to be grittier, more compassionate, become a better leader and discover the complexities of the gray areas in life.
接下来的一年,世界会是我的教室,它可以教我太多,给予我太多。我迫不及待地想要沉浸在新的语言和新的文化中,和周围的人建立联系,不断尝试新的事物,从全新的角度理解世界话题。我还要学会更坚毅,更有同情心,成为一个更好的领导者,去探索生活中灰色地带的复杂之处。

I hope my experiences will make an indelible impression on me. I’ll emerge refreshed, with that childhood curiosity in a mature adult mind. I’m excited to go back to college afterward with the lessons I’ll learn this year in mind, keeping me grounded and motivated, and informing the work I do, giving me a sense of purpose.
我希望这段经历最终会给我留下不可磨灭的烙印。待我归来时,我会成为全新的自己,带着孩提时的好奇心和长大后的成熟心智;待我归来时,我会携着一年之所学兴奋地踏入大学校门,而这一年的经历会让我在仰望星空的同时又能够脚踏实地。我会更明确自己的方向,并向着那个方向努力。
So here I am, sitting in the middle of John F. Kennedy International Airport waiting for my flight to Dakar to board, trying to hear my own voice amidst the beeping of carts, the news on the TV, the PA system, others’ phone calls and the wails of babies. The brew of emotions I’m feeling is indescribable. I think I’m scared, excited, overwhelmed and in denial all at the same time. But I remind myself that it’s for the better.
这也是为什么我会在这里,JFK机场,等待登上去往Dakar(达喀尔)的航班。行李车咕噜咕噜地经过,电视上在播放新闻,广播系统在通知航班信息,有人正在打电话,小婴儿的哭声间歇传过来。在这些嘈杂中,我试图倾听自己心里的声音,它难以言喻却又异常清晰。紧张、激动、不堪重负、拒绝的情绪同时席卷而来。但是那个声音告诉我,我会变得更好。
There’s a story I was told when I was younger. A war general and his troops had crossed a river to reach enemy territory. After everyone got off the ships, he burned them. There was no turning back. There was no retreat. They were all in.
我小时候曾经听过一个故事。一个将军带领军队跨过河流袭击敌人驻地。所有人下船后,将军烧掉了船只。他们没有退路,只能全力以赴。
I used to think this was incredibly stupid of him to do. He had removed his backup plan, his safety net. But it turns out doing that meant he didn’t need it. Knowing that retreat wasn’t an option, they were motivated to fight harder, to win. Burning the ships drove them forward.
当时的我认为这个决定简直是太愚蠢了。他抛弃了备选计划,就等于失去了安全网。现在我终于明白,他并不需要备选计划。当他的军队知道撤退不再成为一种选项,他们战斗得更加勇猛,因为摆在他们面前的,只有一条路可走。原来,烧掉船是为了让他们走得更远。
Soon, I’ll be scanning my boarding pass to board the plane, and when the wheels leave the ground, I’ll be burning the ships behind me. I’m taking a huge leap of faith, but I know I can’t live in two places at once. I want to be all in, to immerse myself fully and be present. Retreating would be the wrong choice. Because using the world as a tool to learn is magical.
很快,我将扫码登机。当飞机离开地面时,就是我烧毁我的船只时。我正在经历一次巨大的信仰飞跃,但我知道人不能同时活在两地。我会全力以赴,活在当下,沉浸此时。撤退不会成为我的选项,因为将世界作为学习的工具该是多么的神奇!
2017.9.2
如果你的梦想没吓着你,那这梦想就不够大

[作者介绍]
Shannon Yang, 2017
年于硅谷一所高中名校毕业,2018年秋季入读牛津大学久负盛名的PPE(政经哲)专业。
高中时期,Shannon显示出语言、写作和数学的天赋。她的西班牙语和数学均跳了一级。西班牙语在十一年级已完成了两门AP,曾获西班牙语全国考试金牌,全校拼字比赛(SpellingBee)3名,目前掌握英文、西班牙文、中文、法文和西非沃尔夫(Wolof)5种语言,略通德语。写作和新闻方面多次获奖,包括国际青少年新闻(International Youth Journalism)写作奖一等奖1 项、荣誉奖5项,艺术及写作竞赛Scholastic Art & Writing Awards的全美银牌和西部赛区2金、2银、2荣誉奖,新闻教育协会社论类全国银奖、网络新闻北加州金奖等。她还是校报多年的记者,并在全国和地方报纸杂志发表文章。Shannon在数学竞赛上也表现突出,自八年级以来连续五次打入全美数学邀请赛AIME(每年全美约5000人入围),连续四年获邀参加在MIT的女子数学大奖赛MPfG(美加最佳女子250人有资格)
在繁忙学习之余,Shannon还积极参加各种课外活动,在高中数个俱乐部担任重要职务,包括西班牙语俱乐部(外宣)、数学俱乐部(副主席)、模拟联合国(大会主席)等,获得模拟联合国硅谷大会的最佳研究奖。

Shannon
热心公益,高中累积社区服务达上千小时。她入选学区的少数族裔及资优咨询委员会三年,高中课时调整委员会负责沟通的共同主席二年,硅谷地区青少年心理健康工作委员会一年,防止自杀项目组长一年,市青少年咨询委员会外联组长三年,湾区青少年环境和可持续性大会咨询委员会成员一年。她曾数次赴州府参加学生议会,任州教育委员会学生委员二年。她数年义务服务于许多项目,包括城市青少年财务普及、市青少年环境气候项目社交媒体经理、初中母校数学竞赛MathCounts辅导、加州YMCA模拟联合国教练和青年参政项目成员、高中一对一功课辅导、教师助理等。鉴于她的突出表现,学区教师家长学生协会颁给她最特别服务奖全市每年只颁二份奖给学生)
高中几年的假期,Shannon除参加一些项目和夏令营外,还从一些实习和工作中获取经验,共从事过六份带薪工作。
高中毕业后,Shannon利用间隔年(gap year)去西非塞内加尔的一个小镇高中用法语教英语,还辅导了一家614岁的课后班,同时在那里创办了英语学习电台并扩展了相关网站并在离开时完成了所有章程,使之可以以公司形式永续化经营。该项目的三人团队获得T-Mobile主办的三十名全美最佳Changemaker Challenge (改变及挑战)奖,并获该公司高管的特别培训和董事长接见。结束非洲项目后的暑假又赴明尼苏达州语言村做中文教师。

Shannon
还是硅谷地区创业大赛的积极参加者,获得过团体第一(Code Day)和第二(Startup weekend))的好成绩
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