客从何处来 | Where are you from?

Posted on 2022-12-17  385 Views


[See the English version below]

第一周上课,一群来自世界各地的同学七嘴八舌地围了一圈开始自我介绍,比起在国内当然要多回答一个问题:“你从哪里来”?

我听见自己在用烫嘴的英文说“我来自中国,看起来我好像是班里唯一的一个中国人,甚至可能是唯一的一个东亚人,这让我觉得有些不安。”

“我想我现在正在经历一种“文化冲击”,新的语言,新的老师和同学,新的城市。很高兴认识大家,希望能与大家互相学习”。

有时候,很直白地跟大家分享自己的紧张,反而是一件好事。我接下来的整个学期都受到了不少特别的关心和照顾。

第一堂课有惊无险地结束,我当然也不敢期待听懂太多。事实上,直到学期结束,我还有讲座课不能完全听懂的,而研讨课——七嘴八舌逻辑散乱的讨论,加上世界各地大杂烩的口音,对我来说就是彻头彻尾的灾难片现场。

下了课,收到老师的邮件“下课后不忙的同学,我希望可以和你们一起去酒吧喝一杯”。我目瞪口呆地跟着去,第一次见识了这种酒吧文化。图书馆对面街角就是一个金碧辉煌的老酒吧,给我的感觉大概就相当于国内中小学门口全是零食小卖部一样。

这种社交场合,咱东方人含蓄的美德就显得有点格格不入了。我脸盲,记不清老外的名字,还不敢主动搭讪,好在有同学愿意主动打招呼。我开始跟美国的“杰克”,和一位德国丸子头同学左一搭右一搭地开始聊中国的社会风貌。聊着发现北京的面积是伦敦的几乎十倍大的时候我自己都震惊了。

后来跟外国同学打交道多了,我发现大部分外国同学问的都是类似的问题:自由啦,民主啦,人权啦,网络自由,疫情防控,新疆问题……一开始我很耐心地跟大家讲,从中国古代的王朝政治到近代的殖民战争,再到新中国成立以后的快速发展,我必须承认中国有很多不完善的地方,但它是一个传统与现代并存的发展中国家,我们应该对它的发展多一些理解和耐心。

到后面我开始耍一点小脾气,为什么大家对中国关注的都是负面的消息。我开始在解释这些问题的时候夹带一些私货,跟他们讲中国近现代的历史,讲李子柒和《舌尖上的中国》,讲我的成长经历和所见所闻……有一次跟三个中国同学,两个英国同学一桌子吃饭,讲到新疆问题,我的中国同学解释了一番,后来说“我觉得认识一个国家最好的方法是实地去观察,而不是只听媒体的一面之词”,原本在旁边犯懒的我听了使劲鼓掌,我也插一嘴说“每次讲负面消息的时候我都觉得好像给人传递了一种,我也不喜欢我的国家的印象,但实际上,我真的非常热爱我的国家。”讲得自己都多少有点动容了。

我同时也在尝试着了解和感受这座新的城市。有一段时间我下了课就满城逛,去看伦敦博物馆讲这座城市从罗马到中世纪再到世界名城,看看不懂的艺术展,跟朋友去集市品尝香喷喷的奶油蘑菇饭。

每天半小时的步行上学实在锻炼了我的步行能力。这边的交通费贵得让人灰心,只要是半小时能到的范围我都走着去。带着一个买菜小推车去上学,下了课从学校的河岸校区穿过桥去象堡收二手,再去Henley Road找朋友,最后乘风破浪地坐一辆红色的双层巴士回家。

又或者是上战争史的课,讲到特拉法加战役,于是下课走到不远处的特拉法加广场打个转,看英国民族英雄纳尔逊的雕像,还有漂亮的广场夜景。夜幕下的街景金碧辉煌,好些人围着广场上的喷泉一圈坐着,晚风吹着,正前方能看得到高高的大本钟。好舒服的氛围,让人觉得想融入其中。

交朋友,一开始我还是很局限在中国人圈子里。周末了,换乘两次公交车去找我的房东姐姐。大大咧咧的我出门忘了给手机充电,到人家屋门口了门铃按不响。我跑到房子后面,对着她的窗户,用手比出喇叭的形状喊她的大名,没有回应,我恶作剧地开始喊她的外号,好在终于听到了。后来她说:“刚打开音箱打算放歌,就听见有人喊我的名字,吓了一大跳”,我笑得要喘不过气来。

后来租到房子,有了新的室友,就开始相依为命一起去买菜做饭;课程里也逐渐认识了几位同学。但我还是很难记清楚外国朋友的名字。有一次坐在一个很脸熟的同学旁边,下了课我很开心地打招呼“嗨!丹尼尔”,结果人家叫米歇尔。

有时候我觉得遇到的所有人都可亲可爱,交作业迟了跟老师道歉,老师反而反过来安慰我;小组展示PPT做错了下课跟同学道歉,反而收到了每人一个结实的熊抱。这边对错误的容忍程度比东亚文化要高,大家都人性化地对很多事情表示宽容和理解。压力一变小,我开始暖融融地膨胀起来。

可是真的是因为我们有着更加严苛的文化吗?我想到高考的时候所谓“提高一分干掉千人”的口号,想到饱受诟病的“内卷和躺平”,以及日韩、港澳台地区类似的对压力、缺乏机会和竞争社会的抱怨。我觉得不能完全归咎于我们的文化,首先,传统文化的内涵和影响是动态演变的,如果一定要说我们受到了文化的影响,那也是近代文化的占比更大,而我们的近代是什么呢——残酷的战争和艰辛的重建,试问,这种情况下怎么产生宽容的氛围?更遑论还有现代不公平的国际秩序:生产力的、货币国际地位的、宣传话语权的不平等……这片广袤土地上的人们承受了多少的艰辛和苦难!

郁闷的时候想起这些沉重的话题就让我难过。于是此后我跟外国同学聊这些话题的时候又多了一个新的主题:当今世界潜藏的不平等。去了一趟沙特阿拉伯,加上期末论文提到了中东的百年动乱和民族主义,觉得这些概念更沉甸甸了。

当然这种结构性的东西不是能归咎于个人的,我依旧喜欢每一个遇见的人,无论他们有着怎样的一张面孔。

让我觉得难过的,是听到很少数的港台同学在批评中国文化。批评政府政策和宣传方式,批评民族主义情绪我都是可以理解的,但是上升到文化的贬低,是不是有点过激且不理性了呢?

我深刻地感受到我们自己的不足:过时的宣传方式、过激的民族情绪、程度较低的全球化。但一想到中国不平衡发展的国情又让我生气不起来了:这个国家从殖民主义的阴影中走出来才一百来年,还有很多人为生计发愁,请给我们一些耐心、鼓励和支持,就像我现在感受到的关怀一样。

感恩节的时候,我同一个小组的美国同学请我和他的几位同学一起去朋友家做感恩节大餐。七八个人围了一桌子,英国人、美国人、德国人、瑞典人,当然还有我一个中国人就着美酒吃火鸡。跟德国朋友讨论起两个国家不同的饮食文化,他问我“中国是不是也有类似的餐桌礼仪呢?”我请他列举了一下什么是他所说的餐桌礼仪:等人齐了再吃、不一次性拿太多诸如此类,我感觉熟悉地不得了。我回答说我们也有完全一样的习俗。人的感情是全世界都共通的,所以这些文化习俗也不至于有太大的本质区别。

逛完特拉法加广场出来步行回家,路上看到一座英国护士Edith Cavell的纪念碑,她因为在一战中帮助了200名协约国士兵逃跑而被德国军事法庭判处叛国罪。战争结束,人们为她立起了纪念碑,上面刻着她的一句话:“仅有爱国主义是不够的,我必须对所有人都没有敌意或怨恨。”

我对此珍而视之。伦敦很多公园的长椅上都有一个小牌子,写着捐赠者留下的话,他们对社区的一些记忆和感情。“从不厌烦伦敦”,“纪念一个冰激凌鉴赏大师”诸如此类,穿行其中很容易为之动容。

我不断地看到这些不同,并且与我的国家做比较。这一学期以来,我是如此地关心它的每一点变化和发展:疫情防控造成了一些不应该出现的灾难,我为此难过;一些地方的人们走上街头争取权益,我觉得震撼又担心,跟在国内的朋友们聊了一通宵;我还关注新的国家会议、汇率的变化、防疫政策和开放政策的改变、前任主席的去世……

在课程中我还关注了很多以往了解较少的国家和地区,非洲、中东、拉丁美洲,看不同地区的人民如何努力让自己的国家和我们的世界变得更好,并被这些事迹和精神深深打动。当然也看到战争、灾难和仇恨,它们是如此地深重和复杂,复杂到人们很难改变什么。在讲索马里内战的课堂上,班里同学Khalid正好是祖籍索马里的英国人,班里同学和老师围着他七嘴八舌地问:“那索马里现在是什么情况?”,“索马里和索马里兰区别大吗?”,“如果我们去旅游安不安全呢?”

这些不同的文化和相同的理解和共情让我不断反思。学期末去了一趟沙特阿拉伯,印象最深刻的还是一些当地特色的环境、语言、文化和历史。我在跟外国朋友聊天的时候,大家也对这些不同国家的差异更感兴趣。我觉得还是要保留一些自己的特色,更何况我们的国家还有如此灿烂美好的文明。“我是中国人民的儿子,我深情地爱着我的祖国和人民。”

但同时也大发一些世界主义的愿心。在申请研究生的时候,我引用了Michael Jackson的歌曲Heal the World作为开头,写到这里我又打开音乐软件,悠扬轻快的旋律飘了出来:

“Heal the world. Make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race.”(治愈这个世界,让它变成一个更好的地方,为你、为我,也为了全人类。)

"Though it's plain to see, this world is heavenly, be God's glow."(很明显,这世界原本就是上帝的荣光。)

民族情感和世界主义并不完全对立,每个人、每个民族、每一种文化,都是造物者的光荣,我们共同地生活在美丽的世界上。


English Version:
In my class in the first week, a group of students from all over the world gathered around and started to introduce themselves. Of course, we had to answer one more question than in our home country: "Where are you from?"

I heard myself say in a bit unskilled English, "I come from China, and it looks like I'm the only Chinese in the class, maybe even the only East Asian, which makes me feel a little uneasy."

"I think I'm experiencing a kind of "culture shock" now, new language, new teachers and classmates, new city. But it's nice to meet everyone here and I hope to learn from each other."

Sometimes it's a good thing to be honest about your nervousness. I received a lot of special care and attention throughout the following semester.

The first class ended without any risk, and of course I didn't dare to expect to understand too much. In fact, until the end of the semester, I still have lectures that I can't fully understand, and seminars-discussions with random logic, coupled with a hodgepodge of accents from all over the world, are complete disaster movie scenes to me .

After class, I received an email from the teacher saying: "For those who aren't in a rush, I'm happy to join you in the pub for a drink. " I followed along dumbfounded, seeing this bar culture for the first time. On the corner opposite the library is a resplendent old bar, which gives me the feeling that it is equivalent to the snack vendors near the secondary schools in China.

In this kind of social occasion, the implicit virtues of our orientals seem a bit out of place. I have difficulties in recognizing the faces of foreigners and remembering their name, and dare not strike up a conversation. Fortunately, some classmates are willing to say hello first. I started chatting with the American "Jack" and a German classmate with a top knot hair style and chatting about China's social outlook. I was shocked when I found out that Beijing is almost ten times the size of London.

In the following days, as I got to know more and more foreign friends, I found that most of them asked similar questions: freedom, democracy, human rights, Internet freedom, epidemic prevention and control, Xinjiang issues... At the beginning, I was very patient with these questions and tried to give a impartial answer admitting that China has many imperfections, but it is a developing country where tradition and modernity coexist. We should Be more understanding and patient about its development.

But I also got confused, why everyone just pays more attention to negative news about China. So when explaining these issues again, I began to add something I am really interested in, the history of modern China, the vlog of Li Ziqi and the documentary "A Bite of China", my own growing experience and everything I saw and heard... Once I had dinner with three Chinese classmates and two British classmates. When we talked about the Xinjiang issue, my Chinese classmate explained it and said, "I think the best way to know a country is to observe it in person, not just listen to the media's words", I was lazy to this question at the beginning but started to applaud after listening to these words, and then I interrupted saying, "Every time I talk about these negative news, I feel as if it conveys an impression that I don't like my country either, but in fact, I am really proud of my country." I was moved as well when I said it.

I am also trying to understand and feel this new city. After class, I wandered around the city, visited the London Museum which displays the city history from Rome empire to the Middle Ages and finally turns into a world-famous city, saw art exhibitions I didn’t really understand, and went to the market with my friends to taste a delicious creamy mushroom rice.

Walking to school for half an hour every day really exercised me. And the transportation fee here is frustratingly expensive, everywhere as long as it is within half an hour, I will walk there. Once I went to school bringing a grocery shopping trolley, crossed the Waterloo bridge from strand campus to Elephant & Castle to collect second-hand daily necessities after class, went to Henley Road to find friends, and finally took a speeding red double-decker bus home.

There was also a class on the history of war, which talked about the Battle of Trafalgar, so after class, I walked to Trafalgar Square not far away to look at the statue of Nelson, the British national hero, and the beautiful night view of the square. The street scene under the night is resplendent and magnificent, many people are sitting around the fountain on the square, with the evening wind blowing, and the tall Big Ben can be seen right in front of it. Such a comfortable atmosphere that makes me feel like really want to be part of it.

In terms of making friends, I was limited to the Chinese circle at the beginning. In weekend, I would take two transferring buses to find my former landlord friend. Once I was so careless that I forgot to charge my phone when I went out, and when I got to the door of her house, I couldn't ring the doorbell. So I ran to the back of the house, faced her window, and called her name with my hand in the shape of a trumpet. There was no response, and I started calling her nickname as a joke, but fortunately, she finally heard it. Later, she told me that when she just turned on the speaker and was about to play a song, she heard someone calling her name which was a great shock to her, I couldn't stop laughing.

Later, when I settled down and had new roommates, we started to depend on each other; I also gradually made several classmates in the course, but it is still difficult for me to remember the names of foreign friends. Once I was sitting next to a classmate who was very familiar. After class, I happily said hello, "Hi! Daniel", and it turned out that his name was Michelle.

Sometimes I feel that everyone I meet is cute and friendly. I apologized to the teacher for being late to hand in homework, and the teacher comforted me in turn. The level of tolerance for mistakes here is higher than that of East Asian culture, and everyone shows tolerance and understanding for many things in a humane manner. As soon as the pressure eased, I began to enjoy daily life much more.

But is it really because Asian people have a more strict culture? I thought of the so-called slogan of "improving one point so you can killing thousands of people" in Chinese college entrance examination, the much-criticized "involvement and lying flat", and similar complaints about pressure, lack of opportunities, and a competitive society in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. I don't think it fair to impute all these blame to our culture. First of all, the connotation and influence of traditional culture are dynamically evolving. If we must say that we have been influenced by culture, it is modern culture that accounts for a larger proportion. What is our modern era like? -All about cruel wars and arduous reconstructions. How can an atmosphere of tolerance be created under such circumstances? Not to mention the unfair international order nowaday: the inequality of productivity, the international status of currency, and also propaganda...how much hardship and suffering the people in this vast land have endured!

It makes me depressed when think about these heavy topics. So when I talked about some negative topics with foreign students, I added a new theme: the hidden inequality in today's world. I went to Saudi Arabia during this semester, and my essays mentioned the century-old turmoil and nationalism in the Middle East, and I felt that these concepts were even more vivid to me.

Of course this kind of structural stuff cannot be attributed to individuals, I still love every person I meet, no matter what kind of face they have.

What makes me sad is sometimes hearing a very small number of students from Hong Kong and Taiwan criticizing Chinese culture. I can understand criticism of government policies and propaganda methods, as well as criticism of nationalist sentiment, but is it a bit extreme and irrational to rise to the depreciation of culture?

I deeply feel our own inadequacies: outdated propaganda, sometimes radical nationalism sentiment, insufficient globalization level. But when I think about the facts of China’s unbalanced development, I can’t criticize anymore: this country has only went out from the shadow of colonialism for a hundred years, and there are still many people worrying about their livelihoods. Please give us some patience, encouragement and support just like what I feel right now.

On Thanksgiving, an American classmate in my class group invited me and several classmates to have a Thanksgiving dinner at his friend's house. Seven or eight people sat around a table, we have British, Americans, Germans, Swedes, and of course I, a Chinese, ate turkey with good wine. Discussing the different food cultures of the two countries with a German friend, he asked me, "Does China have similar table manners?" I asked him to defined what he called table manners: don't eat until everyone comes, don't take too much at once, etc. I feel very familiar. I replied that we have exactly the same custom. Human feelings are common all over the world, so these cultural customs will not have much essential difference.

Walking home after visiting Trafalgar Square, I saw a monument to British nurse Edith Cavell, who was convicted of treason by the German military court for helping 200 Allied soldiers escape during World War I. At the end of the war, people erected this monument to her, engraved with her words: "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

I treasure these small details so much. There is always a small board on the benches in many parks in London, with the words left by the donors, some of their memories and feelings for the community. "Never tried of London", "In memory of a master ice cream connoisseur" and so on, it is easy to get moved when walking through it.

I keep noticing the differences and comparing them to my country. Since this semester, I have been so concerned about every change and development in my homeland: the epidemic prevention and control which caused some disasters that should not have happened, and I feel sad for it; people in some places went to the streets to fight for their rights, and I feel shocked and worried, that day I chatted with my domestic friends all night; I also paid attention to conferences, the exchange rates, changes in epidemic prevention policies and opening policies, and the death of the previous chairman just several days ago...

In the course, I also paid attention to many countries and regions that I knew little about before, in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. I saw how people in different regions worked hard to make their own country and our world better. I was deeply moved. Of course, I also saw wars, disasters and hatred, which are so deep and complicated that it is difficult for people to change. In the class about the civil war in Somalia, our classmate Khalid happened to be a British native of Somalia. So the other classmates and teacher surrounded him and asked him: "What is the situation in Somalia now?", "Is there big difference between Somalia and Somaliland?”, “Is it safe for us to travel there?”

These different cultures and the same understanding and empathy make me constantly reflect. I went to Saudi Arabia at the end of the semester, and I was most impressed by the local environment, language, culture and history. When I chat with foreign friends, everyone is more interested in the differences between our different countries. I think I still need to keep some of my own cultural characteristics, not to mention that our country has such a splendid and beautiful civilization. I would like to quote a famous saying here by Deng Xiaoping, our former chairmen,which is: "I am the son of the Chinese people, and I love my motherland and people deeply."

But at the same time, I think cosmopolitanism aspirations are important as well. When applying for my master study, I quoted Michael Jackson's song Heal the World as the beginning of my personal statement. When writing this, I opened the music software again, and a melodious and brisk melody floated out:

"Heal the world. Make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race."

"Though it's plain to see, this world is heavenly, be God's glow."

National sentiment and cosmopolitanism are not completely opposite. Every person, every nation, and every culture is the glory of the creator. We live together in such a beautiful world.