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「網上遞件後,請給我一封電郵,我會將妳女兒的申請以個案加速處理。」

這家一年前想都沒想過女兒會去的學校,奧克拉荷馬大學,的確在三月底我們登記後給女兒許多專屬優惠:五年學費全免,提早畢業的話可以挪到研究所用、四年每年五千五獎學金、五千特別給National Merit Scholars的獎學金、第一年住宿費四千二補助、兩千元買電腦或書本等各種雜費,以及兩千元海外留學費用。

第一年除了機票,我們大概都不需出資,但第二年以後得自付一些住宿費。那麼,怎樣能讓女兒開心的去上這所大學,就是我們最大的目標了。

凱是行動派,在我跟女兒都還盪在谷底的時候,每天都跟我們報告他的發現:

「妳知道OU(University of Oklahoma,奧克拉荷馬大學的簡稱)的mascots(吉祥物)是兩批馬喔!叫做Boomer and Sooner。」吉祥物在台灣的大學好像沒有吧?剛來美國時根本不認識這個字,對我這種不懂球類運動的宅女來說,球類比賽前,穿動物裝出場的表演有啥稀奇呢?

「是真的養了兩批馬耶!」喔,那又怎樣?凱總以為,美國小女孩對馬情有獨鍾,對我家女兒應該也是吧?結果牽牽只是微笑了一下。

「居然是全美前十大有學生當選Rhodes Scholars的學校耶!」

「那是什麼?」牽牽轉頭問,這顯然對她比較有吸引力。

「那是一個國際獎學金,提供全額獎學金去英國牛津大學念研究所,最有名的得獎人是柯林頓!」

「喔。」這太難了吧?女兒又洩了氣。

「為了提升排名,OU是公立學校裡面收最多 National Merit Scholars的喔!每年都有將近兩百人!」

「喔。」好可憐,這些都是因為念不起其他大學而選擇OU全額獎學金的窮學生嗎?不過,也許這樣比較不會跟同學感覺生活在不同世界裡,而格格不入吧?大家的生活背景比較相當啊。

「學校有專屬宿舍給National Merit的學生喔,每棟宿舍還安排一位教授一起住,提供就近諮詢耶!」

「喔。」這的確很特別。

學校呢?則不斷寄邀情函,提供參觀校園的免費住宿,還有夏令營能參加。

「我不能去,我得去NIH(National Institute of Health)打工。」

「那沒關係,可以優先電話註冊,妳什麼時候有空呢?」原來,National Merit Scholars選課有優先權,甚至可以在老生和研究生之前選課,確定想上的課絕對不會額滿,而且還有專門的老師在電話裡諮詢任何選課問題,六月初就能選好課。

「可是我還沒決定要去念啊!」女兒終於說出心裡的話。

是的,還有兩所學校給她備取,但是得等到五月一日以後,正取生決定要不要去,學校才能統計出還有幾個空缺可以給備取生。但是,學校也說了,請別抱太大希望,建議先去其他學校登記。

「可是,學校也說,我可以寫信請他們考慮正取我,我想寫信。」平常要女兒寫文章或信,總是拖拖拉拉,最後草草了事,這次居然主動想寫!

「我這兩天就會寫好,昨天晚上已經在心裡打好草稿了,媽媽,可是我寫好不想給你們看。」

「為什麼?」這大概是第一次女兒把我排除在外吧!

「因為我會提到叔叔。」

「那是他不能看啊,為什麼我也不能?」

「嗯,好吧,妳可以看。」哈!我就知道這女兒拿我沒轍!只要一點點人情攻勢,或者說多問一次,就能讓她投降。那時才四月初,剛被長春藤盟校拒絕的時候,Johns Hopkins和Washington University in St. Louis給她備取,女兒這封信給的是Washington University in St. Louis,凱的母校,那所凱口中多好多好、多美的學校。憑良心說,雖然是繼父,但兩個女兒都很看重凱的意見,比我說的還有影響力,她們壓根就看不上我的母校,University of Texas at Austin,說那是給德州佬念的!

好吧,來洩漏一下女兒的作文能力。牽牽喜歡理工,之前參加那些拼字、地理競賽,是因為她記性好,平常除了看小說,並不喜歡文史,尤其討厭作文,寫出來的文章都很簡短直接,像回答簡答題一樣,或是很明顯的起承轉合,第一段和最後一段幾乎一模一樣,「要說的都說完了啊!」她總是如此埋怨。

「寫好了嗎?」兩天後我問。

「本來寫超過三頁,拉拉雜雜把想說的話說完,心裡舒服點了,可是,我想學校不會想看這麼長的信吧?所以刪成兩頁。」

「沒抱怨或酸葡萄吧?」

「不算有啦,給妳看吧!」

女兒進了自己的房間,我則很好奇的拿著信。原本背靠椅背,看完第一句,放下信,左手撐著椅子扶手坐直,最後兩手交握,頂著下顎…我掉下淚來,這是我看過最美的一封信!

我走進女兒房間:「叔叔不能看嗎?我覺得妳寫的很棒,我都哭了!」

「真的嗎?謝謝!好吧,他可以看,我只是怕你們笑我,妳幫我拿給叔叔吧!我怕他不喜歡…」

凱看信的速度比我快多了,只見他低頭看完信,抬頭問我“Since when can she write?”

我看見他眼裡的淚光。

================================

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I know you receive thousands of formulaic letters from wait-listed applicants so I will spare you yet another one and simply tell you why I want to go to Washington University in St. Louis.

My stepfather went there.

When my sister and I were little he regaled us with tales of Wash U., about how rigorous the classes were, how intelligent the other students were, how beautiful the campus was, and on and on.  He always told me how I would fit in perfectly with all the other slightly geeky students.  Listening eagerly, I drank up all his stories and vowed to myself that I would go to Wash U. someday too.

When I was in middle school, I wanted to become a lawyer just like him.  He is funny and smart, driven and determined, ambitious and hardworking; in short, the best role model I could have asked for.  As I grew up, I was drawn toward science and away from law, but the motivation to learn and work hard remained.  Because of him, while still in middle school, I studied geography for the county geography bee (I won), and spelling for the National Spelling Bee (I did not make it past the semifinals).  In high school I studied Spanish on my own with his help and skipped two years of classes (I scored 5 on the AP exam), and, most recently, began studying German outside of school because of the abundance of scientific articles written in German (this is still a work in progress).  His own drive is evident in everything he has done, from working his way through law school to repairing our house on the weekends after working grueling overtime hours at his law office to finding time to watch movies and laugh with us no matter how busy he is.

He does all of this while undergoing treatment for Stage IV cancer.

He has been battling the disease for four years and has not once given up.  No matter how much his back pains him or how tired and drained he feels from taking four different medications a day, he always finds time to crack jokes, complain about constantly driving me places, toil on our infinitely problematic house, and quiz me on German verb conjugations.

I am not the best writer.  I am not an athlete.  I will never become a concert pianist or play the flute in a symphony orchestra.  I am most definitely not the next Picasso.  I am shy and tend to clam up in interviews.  I have the worst handwriting of any girl in my class, and I cannot drive a car to save my life.  I am impatient and impulsive and talk too fast and fidget and laugh too loud and too often and have much too short of a fuse.  Even if you accept me, not only will my family be unable to make big donations, I will need substantial financial aid.

But I am strong like him.  I will never give up.  Because I am driven and determined and passionate and talented and hardworking and ambitious, I will try and try and try again.  I am Thomas Edison sifting through thousands of materials to find the perfect light bulb filament.  I will throw myself against the iron door until it breaks because I will not shatter before it does.  Wherever I go, I know I will bring this fiery passion, this stony determination to bear.  I want to set the world on fire.  I want to make sure everybody knows my name.

Before you toss my letter in the trash can with the thousands of other wait-list letters, I want you to see me.  See me not just as a walking assortment of grades and test scores, extracurricular activities and predictable essays, but as a unique person who very much wants to study biology at Wash U.

Whatever happens, I have no one to blame but myself.  Maybe this letter is crazy, the outstretched arm of a dying soldier bleeding from a bullet to the gut.  Maybe this letter will not influence you at all; maybe it will merely prove why I should not be admitted.

But I have to try.

================================

有這樣的女兒,人生何嘆?如果這封信改變不了無法進名校的事實,我們心裡只有欣慰,沒有後悔,相信命運自會做好最棒的安排。

七月中,女兒收到備取學校的拒絕信,也好,省去我們為學費操心。

「歡迎妳即將成為OU新生,內附學長姐聯絡名單,有問題不用客氣!八月三十橄欖球賽開場時,請穿附贈的T恤進場接受表揚;另外,請從下列三本書選一本,OU將免費贈送,祝妳暑假愉快!」

這是所一直帶給我們驚喜的學校!今天,女兒將自己搭飛機去報,得等到聖誕節前才能回家。希望她喜歡這所學校,但願一切順利。

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  • 悄悄話
  • Monica
  • wow !!!!!!!!! 真的好感動喔,我也快哭了.真的.
    牽牽真的好棒喔!!!
    沒有錄取牽牽的學校,是他們的損失)))))))
  • 我們都很感動 可是你知道嗎
    學校居然都沒回信 只是很制式的說 優秀學生太多了 無法錄取
    凱對他的母校很失望 說學校已經沉淪了
    跟以前不同 這麼爛的學校不去也罷 哈

    shoshay 於 2014/08/16 11:47 回覆

  • 悄悄話
  • 悄悄話
  • Monica
  • 同意凱的說法.
    也許根本沒看就丟掉或是根本是叫工讀生看.

    其實有時事後我們會發現,這樣的選擇更好,
    我回想起以前的事,
    雖然當時想來不盡如意,
    後來反而有更好的發展.
  • 我們也這麼覺得
    一定沒人看
    看過報導說 通常學校會專聘一批學商的人
    決定學生錄取與否的條件是未來會帶給學校資金
    能幫學校生財 所以說 捐錢財主的孩子優先考慮
    我們這些生活在不同世界的人 就算了吧
    女兒開學了 感覺還滿喜歡這個學校
    應該是還好的選擇

    shoshay 於 2014/08/19 08:36 回覆

  • Vince
  • congratulations.

    Very heart felt letter.
    We will never know what life has in store for us in the future. Life is so full of twist and turns. But for now, i agree hers is the best choice.

    take care.
  • 謝謝 Vince 的關心
    非常高興看見老朋友來留言
    是的 人生充滿驚奇
    我們只能盡力往前走

    shoshay 於 2014/09/14 03:08 回覆

  • 大貓
  • 我在自學社團中看過一篇分享,那人是大學老師(不知職稱),當過大學聘請的外僱人員,根據描述,所謂的沒有歧視根本是假的,他們有一套基分標準,那人發現他覺得值得考慮的學生都被其他老師刷下來,他還被找去談話,所以他再也不接這種工作了。
    只能說每種制度都有缺失,人生如此漫長,不管現在是否不如己願,上帝給的路有時我們很難理解,但只要以後回頭看能面帶微笑就值得了。
    最後一定要提,這信真的太美了~
    我也好感動
  • 對啊 人生際遇很難理解
    即使倒最後 可能還是不清楚為什麼被安排這樣的運
    就是盡量努力吧 永遠心存希望
    希望未來會是美好的
    牽牽目前算是很快樂 也可能是因為她天性樂觀
    很好笑喔 她在 iPhone downloaded an app called "Happy"
    告訴我說 那App 可以讓用的人更快樂 問我要不要試
    那封信 對她來說已經過去了 雖然再看還是很痛
    但對我們來說 是最美的回憶

    shoshay 於 2014/10/06 03:34 回覆