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青年对领导力的认知--ABC如何发现了我

注:本文为世界日报跟我儿子贾端端的约稿,发表于8月13日教育特刊,经同意转载我网页把中译文全部刊载留底。

作者贾端端为新澤西蜜尔本高中畢業生,十二岁創辦ABC Club,今年秋天將進入杜克大學主修公共关系,也被布朗、康奈尔、达特茅斯、乔治城外交学院、纽约大学斯特恩商学院等录取。连续四年考入新州乐队,任高中网球队及辩论队队长。曾獲艾森豪威尔领导力獎 (Eisenhower Leadership Award),高中体育学者奖 (NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association & Educational Testing Service Scholar Athlete Award),新州学者夏令营(NJ Scholars Program),英文写作奖,也是新州美华协会第一届青年理事会主席。ABC俱乐部在新州几个镇的华人父母子女中开展活动,包括举办讨论会,公共演讲,接待中国学生,助选拜票,选民登记,面试培训等等。贾端端曾在中国高中介绍了这种模式,也借助微信和网络视频培训了加州、德州等地家长和学生建立俱乐部分支。

How the ABC Found Me
Austin Jia
6/3/2016

If you were to ask me to describe the ABC Club (Achieving Better Communication, hence after ABC), I’d chuckle, scratch my head, and ask if you’re prepared for a long conversation. You see, unlike a sports club or an orchestra or a debate team, the ABC cannot be approximated or even summarized. But that is why I write this piece. It may be long and it may be tedious, but I will try my best to capture on paper what has been less of a club and more of a concept, a friend, and a guide to me. 

The origins of ABC were rather nebulous. Nameless, even. Our household has extensive relationship with non Chinese friends in town so we called together monthly book discussions. What allowed this infantile discussion club to grow was our book choice and its multiracial, multicultural nature. Unintentionally, we had selected controversial books, dense books, simultaneously unifying and divisive in their provocativeness. My Name was Keoko unearthed the dilemmas underlying kamikaze bombing during the Japanese occupation of Korea, as part of the broader illustration of the miserable lives of the Koreans under brutal occupation. Our Jewish friends were not aware of such pain suffered by the Koreans (or the Chinese for that matter). Their awareness was with the other book Number the Stars, which we compared with the first one. Steve Jobs revealed the roots underneath a software empire. Book after book drew the most reserved students out from silence; after all, who could reserve an opinion on sending their son off to die on a bomber jet?

After a year of inciting discussion with literary merit, I discussed to target directly what I wanted: the controversy within the books. Instead of operating off of the pretense of a book discussion club, I decided to morph the concept into a “general discussion club”. This also coincided with the teenage/preteen conflict between American Born Chinese kids and their recent immigrant parents. I observed a lack of communication between the two generations, and started with a language survey of how kids view their parents' English skills and what language kids feel comfortable speaking with parents both inside and outside the home. 

The survey resulted in much discussion as parents lamented why their preteens shut them out of their lives. Over the years, I fed my club members' explosive thoughts with equally incendiary topics: the merits of peer pressure, the pitfalls of social media, the balance between social and academic life, Asian identity and stereotype, social justice, time management, mental health. Soon, our conversations became so irresistibly magnetic that the parents could not help but to join. And, as the entertainer that I am, I decided to spice up the room with debates about parent-child relationships and proper parental involvement.  And thus materialized an unforeseen byproduct of my unsuspecting club: allowing children and parents to settle disagreements that would never have materialized in their own households.

Soon, there came to be a rhythmic quality to my routine of preparation, a simple quality. As the club members and their parents became more outspoken and less dependent on my mediation to carry on the conversations, I found myself generating fewer and fewer discussion questions. My group, that had once looked at me to revive dead discussions, was now self-sustainable, even energetic.

Running the ABC Club over such a long span of time has enlightened my awareness of the nuances of leadership. With practice, explaining plans, motivating groups, and mediating discussions became instinctive - a natural way of interacting. It was a good thing, a healthy thing, an empowering thing to taste the responsibility of management, to delegate, and even to share the mantle of mediator to those who were bold enough to try. All told, my transformation was as acute as those that surrounded me. Because, before I discovered ABC and ABC discovered me, I, too, was a nonconfrontational, inward teenager.

Some people ask me why I persist in running ABC, why I take so much time to support the growths of other people, rather than of myself. I think that at the end of the day, leading the ABC was never about its self-inflating moments spent heading discussion groups and directing conversations. Guiding a dozen listeners certainly made me feel powerful and leaderlike, but ironically, I felt always as if my personal satisfaction was derived from a sentiment that seemed diametrically opposed to leadership - that of humility. I think that it is quite appropriate that only now, as I hand the mantle of ABC down to the next generation, do I finally understand this irony. 

I understand that leadership is a fundamentally supportive role, about enabling rather than receiving. Power, when flaunted and demonstrated, devolves into mere accessory. Power, when exercised in charity and in selflessness, does good. And nothing feels as good as seeing a quiet teenager compelled by my efforts to shirk the limits of shyness and contribute his presence, his voice, and his bottled-up opinions. Five years with ABC was a gift because it allowed me to feel that singular rush when my leadership emboldens timid hands to raise, insecure mouths to speak, unsure souls to unlock and embrace their potential, vibrant and boundless. 

ABC如何找到了我
作者:贾端端
翻译:于长游

如果你希望我描述一下我们ABC俱乐部(名字缩写取自“达成更好交流”)到底是个什么样的东西,我一定会一边挠头一边笑,并问你是否准备好了一段臃长的对话。你看,和其他一些体育,乐队或辩论性质的俱乐部不同,ABC俱乐部好像很难一下子三言两语总结出来。不过,这正是我决定写这篇文章的原因。本文可能会有点长篇大论的感觉,但我会在下笔时尽力捕捉那些ABC对我来说作为一种理念或指南的性质,大过一个俱乐部的意义所在之处。

ABC的起源其实很模糊,甚至一开始连个名字都没有。我的家庭跟镇上的一些非华裔家庭一直来往密切,所以我们弄了个多族裔读书讨论会。这个一开始并不成形的读书讨论会得以壮大成长,要得益于我们对书籍的选择以及成员本身多种族和多元文化的特点。并非刻意,但我们挑选的都是一些颇具争议,内容艰深的书籍,它们在无意中达到了既能激发读者不同观点,又有统一共同之处的奇妙结果。比如,《当我的名字是Keoko》,这本书描述的是二战时韩国人被日本占领的悲惨境遇以及日本人的神风突击队自杀轰炸模式。我们的犹太朋友并不了解当时韩国人所遭受的痛苦(或当时中国人经受的磨难),所以他们关注的是另外一本书,《细数繁星》,我们把这两本书放在一起比较阅读。而《史蒂夫. 乔布斯传》则揭示了一个软件帝国内在最深层的故事。就这样,一本本书读过后,即使最保守的学生也开始打破沉默。说到底,谁会在就是否一个父母该忍心送自己的儿子去驾驶自杀袭击飞机这个问题上,吝于发表自己的看法呢?

经过了大约一年多关于书本文学价值方面的探讨后,我开始转向集中讨论我更感兴趣的:书本里指出的现实中具有争议的地方。而且,我也开始把ABC从一个限于读书讨论俱乐部的形式逐步过度成“普通讨论俱乐部”的概念。而这,也正好契合美国出生的华裔孩子普遍在青春/青春前期与父母冲突这个典型话题。我注意到了这两代人之间缺乏交流的问题,做了个调查--美国出生的华人后代,究竟该如何看待他们父母的英语技能,以及孩子们在家里家外和父母交流时,能够接受哪种语言交流方式。

调查结果引出很多讨论,华人父母们大多为孩子将父母拒之于(心灵)门外而苦恼。在五年多的时间里。我给俱乐部成员们提供了形形色色颇具争议的话题来讨论:同伴压力的价值,社交媒体的陷阱,如何平衡社交生活和学业,平衡亚裔身份认同和亚裔刻板形象间的矛盾,社会对我们的看法,时间有效管理,精神健康状况,等等。很快,我们的父母也被这些吸引住,以至于他们没法不加入我们的讨论。而我作为整个讨论气氛的总调动者,决定给讨论再加点料,即,让大家讨论父母子女关系,和父母介入多少算适当程度之类的话题。由此产生了出乎我意料的效果: 让父母和子女间有机会讨论和解决那些在家里绝无可能做到的分歧。

很快,我就形成了一个固定的准备模式,而且效果极佳。随着俱乐部成员及其父母变得越来越敢于放开说话,和越来越少依赖于我的情绪调动, 我发现自己越来越不需要提出下一个讨论问题了。我的小组成员,那些曾经总是看着我,等我重启进行不下去的讨论的组员们,现在完全可以进行自主讨论,而且充满激情。

这段运作ABC俱乐部的经历让我体会到领导才能的诸多微妙之处。经过不断练习,阐释程序,激发热情,带领讨论逐渐变成一种本能-----一种自然的互动方式。这是一件好事,一种健康的方式,让我体验管理的责任,并发现愿意大胆尝试带领下次讨论的人才从而把接力棒传下去。综上所述,我自身的变化其实和身边的人一样明显,因为,在我和ABC彼此发现对方之前,我本人,内心深处,其实也是一个不愿面对冲突、内敛的少年。

有人问我,为何要坚持运作ABC,为何我要花这么多时间去支持帮助他人的成长,而不去关注自身。归根结底,我不觉得自己是在自我膨胀地花时间领导他人讨论或指导对话该如何进行。引导十几个听众,当然会让年轻人体验自己的能力和当领导的感觉。但有意思的是,我的个人满足和成就感源自与所谓领导力恰恰相反的一种感觉,亦即“谦逊”。正是当我准备把这个ABC的重任移交给更年轻的人时,我才终于意识到这种悖论的本质。

我明白,领导力是一种“扶持”的角色,是关乎给予而非获取。权利,当仅作为一种炫耀和张扬的工具时,就演化成了一种纯粹的装饰品。而权利,当以一颗慈悲的心和无私的态度来执行时,就变成了一个上善之物。再也没有比亲眼看到一个安静害羞的青少年,在我的努力之下,逐步变得不再害羞,并开始学会通过贡献自己的观点和发自肺腑的意见来体现自己的存在,让人感觉更美好的了。五年和ABC在一起的时间,是一份珍贵的礼物,因为它使我通过自己的努力,让不自信的手勇敢地举起来,让担忧害怕的嘴巴敢于张开,让没有安全感的灵魂得以解开枷锁并激发出潜能,在他们重获生机和无限未来当中,我感受到独一无二的冲动和快乐。

译后感

这是一个在美国长大的华人第二代写的文章,朋友托我翻译,一开始,有点儿漫不经心,心想,一个高中的孩子见解深刻不到哪儿去。结果,事实证明,我彻底错了,当我翻译到最后一段时,不禁击节赞叹,一个少年,通过社会实践,初尝权利的滋味并小小悟出其内涵,并不算什么太让人讶异的事。让人赞叹的是,他看清了权利应该被赋予的正确本质是,每个手握权力的人们,都需要好好善待手中这个强大的东西,“以一颗慈悲的心和无私的态度去执行”。我想,这个少年的领悟,其实更适合交给我们成人世界,特别是那些手握重权的人们,铭刻于心,作为每日行为做事的准则。

备注:ABC俱乐部在新州几个镇的华人父母子女中开展活动,包括举办讨论会,公共演讲,接待中国学生,助选拜票,选民登记,面试培训等等。贾端端三年前在中国高中介绍了这种模式,也借助微信和网络视频培训了加州、德州等地家长和学生建立俱乐部分支。活动的一个例子见此链接:http://www.overseaswindow.com/node/15322

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