來自馬來西亞的女孩蕭靖彤 ( Cassandra Hsiao ) 今年獲得全部8所常春藤大學（布朗大學、哥倫比亞大學、康奈爾大學、哈佛大學、達特茅斯學院、賓夕法尼亞大學，普林斯頓大學和耶魯大學），以及阿默斯特學院、斯坦福大學、約翰•霍普金斯大學、南加州大學、西北大學，紐約大學和加州大學伯克利分校多所頂級大學的取錄。
靖彤的母親顏愫慧 (Grace Yan) 生於馬來西亞，父親來自台灣。靖彤五歲時，舉家由馬來西亞移民美國。靖彤的高中成績優秀，在 Orange County School of the Arts 的 GPA 為 4.67，而 SAT 得分為 1540 (1600滿分)。她修讀的 AP 課程包括: AP 生物、AP 物理，AP 美國歷史和 AP 微積分BC。AP 美國歷史和 AP 微積分BC 的老師就為靖彤的大學申請寫了推薦信。
以下就是為 Cassandra Hsiao (Class of 2021) 取得15所頂尖美國大學入場券的 Common App 個人陳述:
(15所大學包括: Harvard (#2), Princeton (#1), Yale (#3), Dartmouth (#11), Brown (#14), Columbia (#5), Cornell (#14), Penn (#8), Amherst (#2 LAC), Northwestern (#12), Johns Hopkins (#10), USC (#23), NYU (#36), UC Berkeley (#20), and Stanford (#5))
In our house, English is not English. Not in the phonetic sense, like short a is for apple, but rather in the pronunciation – in our house, snake is snack. Words do not roll off our tongues correctly – yet I, who was pulled out of class to meet with language specialists, and my mother from Malaysia, who pronounces film as flim, understand each other perfectly.
In our house, there is no difference between cast and cash, which was why at a church retreat, people made fun of me for “cashing out demons.” I did not realize the glaring difference between the two Englishes until my teacher corrected my pronunciations of hammock, ladle, and siphon. Classmates laughed because I pronounce accept as except, success as sussess. I was in the Creative Writing conservatory, and yet words failed me when I needed them most.
Suddenly, understanding flower is flour wasn’t enough. I rejected the English that had never seemed broken before, a language that had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Everybody else’s parents spoke with accents smarting of Ph.D.s and university teaching positions. So why couldn’t mine?
My mother spread her sunbaked hands and said, “This is where I came from,” spinning a tale with the English she had taught herself.
When my mother moved from her village to a town in Malaysia, she had to learn a brand new language in middle school: English. In a time when humiliation was encouraged, my mother was defenseless against the cruel words spewing from the teacher, who criticized her paper in front of the class. When she began to cry, the class president stood up and said, “That’s enough.”
“Be like that class president,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. The class president took her under her wing and patiently mended my mother’s strands of language. “She stood up for the weak and used her words to fight back.”
We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.
As my mother’s vocabulary began to grow, I mended my own English. Through performing poetry in front of 3000 at my school’s Season Finale event, interviewing people from all walks of life, and writing stories for the stage, I stand against ignorance and become a voice for the homeless, the refugees, the ignored. With my words I fight against jeers pelted at an old Asian street performer on a New York subway. My mother’s eyes are reflected in underprivileged ESL children who have so many stories to tell but do not know how. I fill them with words as they take needle and thread to make a tapestry.
In our house, there is beauty in the way we speak to each other. In our house, language is not broken but rather bursting with emotion. We have built a house out of words. There are friendly snakes in the cupboard and snacks in the tank. It is a crooked house. It is a little messy. But this is where we have made our home.
- Heather Navarro and Irene Moore. “First-Generation Immigrant Teen From LA Accepted to All Ivy League Schools.” NBC Southern California. April 4, 2017. http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Ivy-League-Los-Angeles-Girl-Teen-Accepted-All-Immigrant-Walnut-418270493.html
- “華裔美女學霸囊括八所常春藤盟校錄取書”. BBC中文網. April 15, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/world-39609118
- Susan Christian Goulding. “OC School of Arts student admitted to every Ivy League university – and then some”. Orange County Register. April 10, 2017. http://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/08/oc-school-of-arts-student-admitted-to-every-ivy-league-university-and-then-some/
- Lin, Vivian. “The Malaysian-Taiwanese Teen Who Cracked Every Ivy League School Wants To Be… ” South China Morning Post. April 13, 2017. http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2087046/malaysian-taiwanese-teen-who-cracked-every-ivy-league-school-wants