《纽约时报》2017美国大学申请优秀文章(三)

《纽约时报》每年会征集美国学生关于金钱、职业和社会阶层方面的大学申请陈述,并发表其中最出色的文章。下面是今年的四篇优秀申请文章之一。本文的作者是来自美国马萨诸塞州安多佛市的左伊·索狄尔(Zöe Sottile),她文章的题目是《戴尔和Macbook,我的身份和阶级困境》。索狄尔是菲利普斯学院(Phillips Academy)的学生,计划就读哥伦比亚大学。

The most exciting part was the laptop.

My mom grabbed the thick envelope out of my hands and read off the amenities associated with the Tang Scholarship to Phillips Academy: full tuition for all four years, a free summer trip, $20 a week for me to spend on all the Cheetos and nail polish my heart desired, and finally, a free laptop.

I had never had a computer of my own before, and to me the prospect symbolized a world of new possibilities. I was the only student from my public middle school I knew to ever go to an elite boarding school, and it felt like being invited into a selective club. My first week at Andover, dazed by its glamour and newness, I fought my way to the financial aid office to pick up the laptop; I sent my mom a photo of me grinning and clutching the cardboard box. Back in my dorm room, I pulled out my prize, a heavy but functional Dell, and marveled at its sleek edges, its astonishing speed.

But the love story of my laptop came clamoring to a halt. In the library, as I stumbled to negotiate a space to fit in, I watched my friends each pull out a MacBook. Each was paper-thin and seemingly weightless. And mine, heavy enough to hurt my back and constantly sighing like a tired dog, was distinctly out of place. My laptop, which I had thought was my ticket to the elite world of Andover, actually gave me away as the outsider I was.

For a long time, this was the crux of my Andover experience: always an outsider. When I hung out with wealthier friends, I was disoriented by how different their lives were from mine. While they spent summers in Prague or Paris, I spent mine mining the constellation of thrift stores around New Haven. The gap between full-scholarship and full-pay felt insurmountable.

But I also felt like an outsider going to meetings for the full-scholarship affinity group. My parents attended college and grew up wealthier than I did, giving me cultural capital many of my full-scholarship friends never had access to. Moreover, I’m white and could afford occasional concert tickets or sparkly earrings. The laptop, carried by all full-scholarship students and coded with hidden meanings, pivoted my friends’ understandings of me. At home, I grew up middle class, then became the privileged prep school girl. But at Andover, suddenly, I was poor. Trying to reconcile these conflicting identities, I realized how complex and mutable class is. My class is connected to my parents’ income, but it’s also rooted in cultural knowledge and objects that are charged with greater meaning.

Which brings me back to the laptop: in the middle of my senior fall, my exhausted Dell broke and I couldn’t afford another. When I managed to borrow a slim Mac from my school, I felt the walls around me reorient. I hoped that now I wouldn’t have to think about the electric web of privilege and power every time I sent an email. Instead, I felt a new anxiety: I worried when I sat in the magnificent dining hall with my beautiful computer that I had lost an important part of my identity.

When I started at Andover, these constant dueling tensions felt like a trap: like I would never be comfortable anywhere. (The school sensed it too, and all full-financial aid students now receive MacBooks.) But maybe it’s the opposite of a trap. Maybe I’m culturally ambidextrous, as comfortable introducing a speaker on the stage of Andover’s century-old chapel as getting my nose pierced in a tattoo parlor in New Haven. My hyperawareness of how my Dell hid my privilege and how my Mac hid my financial need pushed me to be aware of what complicated stories were hiding behind my classmates’ seemingly simple facades. I am a full-scholarship student who benefits from cultural, socioeconomic and racial privilege: my story isn’t easy, but it’s still mine.

以下是《纽约时报》中文网对英文进行的翻译。

最让人兴奋的部分是那台笔记本电脑。

妈妈从我手上夺过厚厚的信封,读出菲利普斯学院唐氏奖学金(Tang Scholarship to Phillips Academy)带来的各项好处:四年学费全免,一次免费的夏季出行,每周发放20美元——可以用来买我心心念念的奇多(Cheetos)和指甲油,最后还有一台免费的笔记本电脑。

我以前一直没有自己的电脑,对我来说,这意味着我将进入一个充满新可能的世界。据我所知,我是我所在的公立中学里唯一一个去精英寄宿学校读书的人,这感觉就像是被邀请加入一个门槛颇高的俱乐部。到达安多弗的第一周,我眼花缭乱于它的新奇和魅力,费很大劲才找到资助办公室,取到那台笔记本电脑;我给妈妈发了一张我抱着纸箱咧嘴笑的照片。回到宿舍后,我拿出自己的奖品——一台重量不轻但功能俱全的戴尔(Dell)笔记本电脑。它有着光滑的边缘和惊人的速度,让我惊叹不已。

但我与笔记本电脑的爱情故事却就此戛然而止。在图书馆里,我正在笨手笨脚地找地方,却看见朋友们都掏出了一台MacBook。每台都像张纸一样薄,似乎没有重量。而我的笔记本电脑重得让我背疼,还会像一只累坏的狗一样不停喘气,与这里明显格格不入。我原以为这台电脑是我进入安多弗精英世界的门票,结果却发现,它真真切切地暴露了我外来者的身份。

在很长的时间里,这一直都是我在安多弗的难题:总是一名局外人。我跟更有钱的朋友一起出去玩,会因为与他们生活差距太大而茫然若失。当他们在布拉格或巴黎度夏时,我在纽黑文附近的众多二手店里忙着淘东西。全额奖学金与全额支付学费之间的差距让人感觉无法逾越。

但是,当我去参加面向全额奖学生的活动时,也感觉自己像个局外人。我父母上过大学,小时候家境也比我好,他们给了我许多文化资本,这是我的许多全额奖学金朋友所没有的。此外,我是个白人,能负担得起偶尔去听场音乐会或买副闪亮的耳饰的费用。全奖生都携带的那台隐藏含义丰富的笔记本电脑,成为朋友们认识我的基点。在家乡,我属于中产家庭,之后还成了让人艳羡的预科学校学生。但在安多弗,我突然变成了穷人。在努力协调这些相互冲突的身份的过程中,我感受到阶级是多么的复杂易变。我的阶级与父母的收入有关,但它也植根于文化知识和被赋予更多意义的事物之中。

这就又讲到了那台笔记本电脑:高三秋天的时候,那台戴尔笔记本被用坏了,我又没钱再买一台。于是我设法从学校借了一台薄薄的Mac,之后便感觉周边的世界又不一样了。我期待以后发邮件的时候,都不用再考虑那个特权和权力的电子网。但取而代之的是一种新的焦虑:带着这台漂亮的电脑坐在华丽的食堂里时,我担心失去了自己身份的一个重要部分。

刚来安多弗时,这种始终处在斗争之中的紧绷状态就像一个陷阱:走到哪儿都会觉得不自在(学校也感觉到了,现在获全额资助的学生领取的是MacBook了)。但或许情况恰恰相反。或许我在文化上是灵活多面的,既能在安多弗百年礼堂的舞台上得心应手地介绍发言者上场,也能在纽黑文的纹身店里自在地穿鼻环。我清楚地意识到,戴尔笔记本掩盖了我的特权,Mac则隐藏我的财务需求,这让我明白了同学们看似简单的外表下隐藏着什么复杂的故事。我是一个受益于文化、社会经济和种族特权的全额奖学生:我的经历并不容易,但它依然是我的故事。

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