American Documents the Country’s First Exchange Students from China 美国文献记载第一批从中国来的交换学者

The VOA Special English Education Report
美国之音英语教育特别报告

成千上万的中国学生在美国的学校上学。作家李奥·里格贝茨说这些学生是踏着一八七零年代的先驱的脚步,来到美国就读的。

里格贝茨先生和作家马太·米勒在他们所著题为“幸运小子”的书中说到了那些先驱的故事。书中说,中国送了一百二十个中国男孩子到美国来学习怎样从事制造工业和怎样使中国现代化。

里格贝茨先生是在几年以前,当他与太太在中国旅行的时候,看到了有关这些孩子们的书而获得的启发。

李奥·里格贝茨说,“当我们在北京的时候,一天下午,天正好下雨,我们就留在酒店哪里也没有去。无聊地在个电视台的节目上转来转去,结果就看到了一张很特殊的照片,是一个中国人穿着很典型的中国服装,但是他显然是在这一栋耶鲁大学的知名建筑物前面。”

里格贝茨先生才发觉,那时清政府派出了一个以男孩子组成的代表团,到美国来学习西方的文化和科技。目的是让他们学成以后,回中国帮助中国发展。

李奥·里格贝茨说,“后来,我既兴奋又惊讶的发现,这些孩子回到中国以后,都成为卓越的人才。并且留下了一大堆珍贵的信件、日志、服装资料、他们在美国整个生活的详细记录,并且也记录了当他们回到中国所发生的事情。”

这书里说到,这些中国孩子在美国的马萨诸塞州、纽约州、新泽西州和康涅狄格州接受了教育。那必定是受到了最好的教育。里格贝茨先生说,中国废除君王制以后的第一任国家总理(唐绍仪,中华民国第一任总理 译者注)就是这些留美的学生之一。在中国建立第一条没有外国人帮助的大型铁路的工程师也就是这些留美的学生之一。同样的,中国的“教育之父”,“外交之父”和“海军之父”也都是出自这些留美的学生。

“幸运小子”的作者只打开了部分存放那些留学生的资料,从而才开始知道这些留学生的点滴。他们的笔记、日志、信件和明信片都是英文的。里格贝茨先生说,他真是感到极大的荣幸,可以得到那么丰富的、已经被保存了很久很久的资料。

里格贝茨先生说,“我们所得到的这些资料简直是无价之宝。我原来以为只是一堆支离破碎的残片,但是我十分震惊地发觉这些留学生是一丝不苟地记录了他们在美国的生活。”

他们都在美国学习了九年左右才回到中国。回来的时候,他们的中国话已经不是讲得那么好了,甚至不能用中文回答某些问题。当时的警察以将他们投入监狱的方式来欢迎他们回国。在监狱里关了差不多一个礼拜以后,这些留学生终于被释放了,并被安置在一些不起眼的工作岗位上。

里格贝茨先生说,这些留学生用了将近十年的时间,才慢慢地进入比较重要的工作岗位。但是他们的影响至今仍然深刻。知到现在还是有那么多的中国留学生在美国读书。


讨论问题:

1. 这篇文章有什么地方让你感到新奇?

2. 你是否想过或者准备出国留学?

3. 出国留学要具备什么样的条件?

4. 你是否有亲戚朋友出国留学的?他们觉得有哪些方面是比较有挑战性的?

Many thousands of Chinese are studying at schools in the United States. And writer Liel Leibovitz says the students are following an example that began in the eighteen seventies.

Mr. Leibovitz and writer Matthew Miller joined forces to tell the story of the students in their book, “Fortunate Sons.” The book says
China sent one hundred twenty boys to America to learn about developments that could help modernize their country.

Mr. Leibovitz got the idea for the book about the boys a few years ago when he was traveling with his wife in
China.

LIEL LEIBOVITZ: “One afternoon it was raining in
Beijing, and so we decided to stay in our hotel room and flip through television stations. And we came across this very arresting photograph of a young Chinese boy dressed in what appeared to be traditional Chinese dress. And he was standing next to a building that was very clearly Yale University.”

Mr. Leibovitz learned that the Qing government sent a whole delegation of boys to learn the ways of the West. The goal was for them to return to
China and help their country.

LIEL LEIBOVITZ: ”A little bit later on, I was delighted and amazed to discover that these boys, who later turned out to be very, very remarkable men, had left behind an archive of letters, of diaries, of clothing articles detailing their entire journey and also what happened to them once they finally returned to
China.”

The book says the boys received their American training in
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It must have been a very good education. Mr. Leibovitz says the first prime minister of the Chinese Republic completed this program. And so did the first engineer to build a large-scale railroad without foreign help. The same was true of the fathers of Chinese education, diplomacy and the Navy.

The book-writers had only to open some boxes containing the writings of these men to learn about them. Their notebooks, journals, letters and postcards were in English. Mr. Leibovitz said he was lucky to have so much information from events that took place long ago.

LIEL LEIBOVITZ: “It was an unbelievable gift. I was expecting a lot of piecing together. And instead, we were amazed to find how meticulous these men had been about documenting their lives.”

The students returned to
China after about nine years. They no longer spoke Mandarin well enough to answer questions. Police welcomed them home by putting them in jail. The young men were released after about a week. But they were given low-level jobs.

Mister Leibovitz says it took about ten years for them to rise to higher positions. He said their story continues today with large numbers of Chinese studying in the
United States


Discussion Questions:
1.  What is interesting to you about this article?
2.  Have you ever wanted to study abroad?  
3. What does it take to be able to study abroad?
4. Do you have any family or friends who has studied abroad?  What are some of the challenges they encounter?
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