中国留学生哥大毕业典礼演讲:我来自中国,想倾听世界的苦难

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本文源自哥伦比亚大学口述历史专业2019届毕业生字同学作为学生代表,于今年哥大文理研究生院研究生毕业典礼上的演讲。

这是一个关于倾听的故事,有他人的激情、脆弱、歧视和困苦,也有作者本人的爱与痛,挣扎与希望。


From 哥大全球中心

微信号:ColumbiaGlobalCenter


感谢Alonso院长。


尊敬的Tolstoy常务副校长、各位老师、家人、朋友,以及哥大文理研究生院2019届的硕士毕业生们,


Thank you Dean Alonso; Executive Vice President Tolstoy; faculty and staff; family; friends; and of course, the MA Class of 2019,


我的妈妈依然没能搞明白我在哥大学的是什么专业,她也不是唯一一个不明白的人。


My mom still doesn't understand what I was studying at Columbia, and she is not alone.


我接触到的99%的人都不知道什么是口述历史。可能也是因为我的发音,在我尝试解释之后,75%的人都会回答说:“噢,这和我了解的艺术史不太一样。”


About 99% of people I have talked to have no idea of what oral history is. I guess because of my accent of pronouncing it, after my attempts to explain, 75% of them would say, "Oh, that's little bit different from what I thought of art history". 


我不怪他们。与传统的历史研究相比,口述历史是个相对年轻且不太知名的领域。在口述历史学,我们通过采访,了解过去,研究历史。


I don't blame them. Compared to the traditional historical research, oral history is a fairly young and less well known field, which is the study of history by interviewing people who have personal knowledge of the past.


1948年,历史学家兼记者艾伦·内文斯在哥伦比亚大学设立了世界上第一个学术化的口述历史项目。


In 1948, historian and journalist Allan Nevins created the first institution-based oral history program in the world, right here at Columbia.


自那以后,哥伦比亚大学口述历史研究中心就成为了超过两万小时采访录音和转录文稿的基地。


Since then, the Columbia University Center for Oral History Research has become the home of over 20,000 hours of recorded and transcribed interviews. 


今天,哥伦比亚大学也依然是美国唯一一所颁发口述历史硕士学位的学校。这也是我来哥大的原因。


Today, Columbia is the only university in the country that offers the graduate program which solely focuses on oral history. And that's why I came to Columbia.



我还记得告诉妈妈我想在读研期间学习口述历史的那一天。


I remember the day I told my mom that I wanted to study oral history for graduate school. 


她一辈子都住在中国。在中国,口述历史研究比在美国更加少见。她非常困惑,但她依然想要表示支持,所以她立刻回答:“去吧!我相信你肯定能学得很好!”


She has lived in China her whole life, and oral history is even less known in my motherland. She was very confused but she wanted to be supportive. So she immediately replied, "Go for it! I'm sure you will be good at it." 


几个小时之后,她问我:“所以,宝贝,你刚刚说想学的那个专业是做什么的?你知道我很爱你,但是我只是想问,你确定毕业以后能找到工作吗?”


Then after few hours, she asked me, "So sweetie, what was the thing you said you wanna study? And you know I love you, but are you sure that you can find a job after graduation?"


是的,未知确实让人感到恐惧,但当时,我依然只申请了一所学校,然后我被录取了。就这样,我成为了哥大口述历史专业第十届硕士学生。


Yes, the fear of an unforeseen future was real. But still, I only applied to one graduate program, I got in, and I became a member of the 10th Cohort of Oral History Master of Arts.



过去的一年里,我们了解了许多口述历史的研究和实践方法。但如果你想让我用一句话总结,我会说,在这里我学会了如何“倾听”(listen),不仅仅是“听见”(hear),而是倾听,真正的倾听。


Throughout the program, we learnt a lot about the methodology and practice of oral history. But if you want me to sum it up into one sentence, I would say, I learnt how to listen, not hearing, but listening. Truly listening.


一开始,区分“听”和“倾听”对我来说有些困难。在中文里,我们用“听”这一个词来表示听和倾听两种意思。对我来说,“倾听”就是“听”,它们都意味着用耳朵来接受信息。


At first, it was difficult for me to differentiate listening and hearing. In modern Mandarin, we only use the word 听 to express both hear and listen. For me, listen was hear, hear was listen, just like 听 was 听, receiving information with one's ears. 


然而,在哥大的学习过程中,我被反复告知,对于一个口述历史学者来说,仅仅听见你的采访对象是不够的。你必须保持敏锐,在采访时专心致志、时刻思考。你必须倾听。


However, I was told multiple times throughout the program - for an oral historian, hearing your interviewees' stories was not enough. You have to be alert. You have to give consideration and thoughtful attention. You have to listen.


所以,我尽我所能去倾听。


So I tried my best to listen. 



 Credit: InSapphoWeTrust


2017年秋天,我开始了在哥大的第一个口述历史专题。我与Wikipedia的AfroCrowd项目组合作,探访纽约地区的少数族裔和语言社群。


The first oral history project I conducted at Columbia was a project I collaborated with AfroCrowd, Wikipedia in Fall 2017, focusing on the marginalized ethnic and linguistic communities within the New York City area. 


在那个学期,我采访了一位反种姓制度的达特利社会活动家。她在三岁的时候,因为皮肤比别人更黑,在学校里遭到歧视和霸凌。


During the semester, I listened to a young anti-Caste South Asian Dalit activist talking about the story of being discriminated and bullied in school because of her darker skin when she was three.


我采访了纽约大学的一位教授兼海地语语言学家。曾经,她用自己的母语海地克里奥尔语说话时,有陌生人靠近并试图纠正她“糟糕”的法国口音。


I listened to an NYU professor and Haitian linguist telling the story of being approached by a stranger who wanted to correct her "poor" French when she was speaking her mother tongue Haitian Creole.


我还采访了一位音乐家,他讲述了自己在布鲁克林的布什维克的创业故事——他在自己的社区里教孩子们黑加勒比人音乐。


I listened to a musician telling the story of starting his music entrepreneurship in Bushwick, Brooklyn and teaching Garifuna music to the children from his community.


我倾听的故事多种多样,它们关乎激情、痛苦、童年、脆弱、自尊、歧视、女性和爱。


I listened to the stories of passion, of pain, of childhood, of vulnerabilities, of pride, of discrimination, of womanhood, of love.



在倾听马里、薇妮和詹姆斯(译者注:指上文提到的三位采访对象)的过程中,我记录下这些平凡的人们为了守护自己的文化传统,以个体的力量各自战斗。


During my journey of listening to Maari, Wynnie, and James, I found myself documenting ordinary people fighting to preserve their heritage from an individual and intimate approach. 


我开始直面自己对其他文化和语言的无知。我跟他们站在一起,从他们的叙述中,审视各种文明的复杂性和包容性。


I found myself facing my ignorance of other cultures and languages. I found myself standing with them, reviewing on the complexity and inclusivity of civilizations that surfaced from personal narratives.


我开始明白,倾听不仅仅是口述历史学家的工作。没有人是一座孤岛,当别人想要诉说自己的故事时,我们有义务留心倾听。因为无论是低语还是呐喊,每个人的声音都很重要。


Then I realized the ability to listen should not merely be an oral historian's job. No man is an island. We own the obligations to be mindful when others are trying to tell their stories, because every personal voice, mummering or loud, matters.


在口述历史学中,我们相信个人的就是政治的,个体的就是公共的。


In oral history, we believe what is personal is political, what is individual is public. 


我的文化人类学教授曾经告诉我,对现在的媒体来说,周五晚上哪个球队赢得了橄榄球比赛,比在某个非西方国家发生的恐怖袭击要重要得多。她说:“非西方国家发生的惨剧在新闻播报中只有30秒,且在这些国家里发生的悲剧是唯一会被报道的事。”


My cultural anthropology professor once told me that in today's media, a terrorist attack in a non-western country is not even as important as which team won the football game on Friday night. "The TV will only give 30 seconds to the non-western tragedy, and tragedy is what they only report on these countries", she said. 


对这些声音的忽视鼓励并滋养了今天社会、媒体和政治谈话中对特定群体的无知和歧视。我们身为未来世界的希望,应该做出改变。


The neglecting of some voices encourages and fosters arrogance and discrimination towards certain communities in today's society, media and political context. And we, as the promising future of our world, need to change that.



如果你问我,倾听的旅程该从哪里开始,我会说:从倾听别人生活中的挣扎开始。


If you ask me where to start the journey of listening, I would say, start with listening to other people's struggles in life.


在哥大读书期间,我失去了两个挚爱的人。


I lost two loved ones during my time at Columbia.


我的好朋友楠在2017年11月因癌症离世。而在我写硕士论文期间,从小养育我的姥姥也离开了人世。我难过万分,逐渐支离破碎。


My good friend Nan died of cancer in November, 2017. Then I lost my grandmother who raised me since I was a baby while I was working on my thesis. I was devastated, gradually falling apart. 


我不记得自己有过多少个无法入睡的夜晚,盯着天花板,就好像它能告诉我答案一样。


I lost track of how many nights I couldn't fall asleep, staring at the ceiling like it would give me an answer. 


我不记得自己有过多少个无法清醒的早晨,躲避着日光,就好像这样能够逃离一切。


I lost track of how many mornings I couldn't wake up, hiding myself from the sunlight like I could escape from everything.


我也有过许多自我怀疑的时刻——我真的可以完成这个学位吗?我真的可以从痛苦和悲伤中走出来吗?


There were many moments I doubted myself, would I ever be able to finish the program and move on with all the pain and grief?


然而,在哥大,有人听到了我求助的声音。不,他们不仅听到了,他们还倾听了我的挣扎。


However, someone at Columbia heard my creaking for help. No. They did not just hear it. They listened to it.


我的项目主任玛丽·马歇尔·克拉克、艾米·斯泰尔彻斯基,还有我的教授盖里·埃尔波尔里,他们陪伴着我,倾听我的痛苦,给予我理解和帮助,耐心地等待我从黑暗中走出来。


My program directors Mary Marshall Clark, Amy Starecheski, and my professor Gerry Albarelli were there, paying attention to my struggles, offering me understanding and help, and waiting for me to save myself from darkness with patience.


我清楚地记得艾米的邮件,还有在玛丽·马歇尔办公室里的宁静,她花了很多时间倾听我的痛苦,并让我相信,我的脆弱可以转化为力量。


I remember Amy's emails. I remember the quietness of Mary Marshall's office, where she spent hours listening to my pain and convincing me that my vulnerabilities could be converted into my strength. 


最终,我记录下了自己经历的爱与死亡,以此完成了毕业论文。


Eventually, I finished an oral history article documenting my personal account of love and death as my graduation thesis.


现在,我从事着一个我真正信仰的工作,在全世界的社群传播有价值的思想。换句话说,如果当初没有人倾听我的挣扎,我现在就不会站在这里。


I landed in a job I truly believe in, bringing the ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe. In other words, I couldn't be here without their listening to my struggles at the first place.



2019年的毕业生们,希望我们这代人不要回避走心的对话。请你们作为家人、伴侣、朋友,倾听他人。


So my fellow of 2019 graduates, don't become the generation that is afraid of mindful conversations. Go listen, as families, partners, and friends.


倾听并不意味着你能够立刻解决他们的问题,但倾听本身会让他们感受到自己被重视。


Listening to others will not automatically grant answers to their questions, but your listening will make someone realize they are valued. 


有的时候,一个迷失的灵魂只是需要被一个人倾听。


Sometimes one's lost soul just needs to be heard by one listener.


同时,也请你们作为社群的一员和关注社会的公民倾听世界。倾听来自不同文化、政治和社会经济背景的人,用另一个视角理解你以为已经十分熟悉的世界。


Go listen, as members of communities and concerned citizens. Listen to people from different cultural, political, and socio-economic contexts. Listen to their perspectives of the world you thought you were familiar with.


让我们在每日的倾听中,再次成为一个谦虚的学生。然后运用我们在哥大收获的知识和资源,传播那些话语,搭建桥梁,改变或许就会随之到来。


Become a humble student again in everyday's listening. Then utilize the knowledge and resources we harvested at Columbia, spread the words, build bridges, and wait for the changes you want to see in the world.



几个月前,我的妈妈从中国来看我。她让我带她去看看校园中我最喜欢的地方。


My mom visited me from China few months ago. She asked me to take her to my favorite place on campus.


我带她去了Lerner Hall里,那块滚动着超过151个国家和地区名字的电子屏幕前。每一天,它都提醒着我,为什么自己一开始会选择哥大:为了多样的故事——那些不同的文化,不同的声音。


I took her to the wall rolling the names of more than 151 countries at Lerner Hall. Everyday, it reminds me why I chose Columbia at the first place, for the stories, of different cultures, and of different voices.


字同学与毕业生们


谢谢大家,恭喜2019届的毕业生们!今天是令人激动的一天。让我们共同庆祝,并从今天开始,倾听别人的故事。


Thank you and congratulations again to my fellow class of 2019! It's an exciting day. Let's celebrate and enjoy, and start listening to other people from today.



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