温度独家 | 谷老师文书写作方法精讲之幽默(二)

在这一期的谷老师文书写作方法精讲中,我们将继续探讨如何让文书写作不枯燥无味。

文书写作必不可少之幽默——自嘲




我们继续上一篇文章,通过一些实际案例来帮助大家在申请文书中灵活运用幽默这个技巧。


个人案例分享


下面我们通过一个申请者的个人陈述为大家进行进一步讲解。为了保持文书的完整性,我给出了个人陈述英文的全文,并在相关段落进行了详细点评。申请者提供了个人陈述的中文初稿,大致内容如下(中文译文):

我的家乡在山东聊城,一个拥有高达17万贫困人口、100万低收入人口的城市。如何给贫穷和弱势的群体同等幸福和有尊严的生活是社会面临的最严峻的考验。我愿用自己的努力给弱势群体平等生活的希望。我不做谁来做?


也许是从小受到爷爷“以天下为己任”的影响,也许是受到热爱从事慈善义工的妈妈的影响,几乎每个假期我都在参加义工活动。2008年我为汶川灾区募捐。2009年暑假,我去聊城市社会福利院做义工。我还在聊城市春雨助学协会救助贫困儿童,比如魏庄乡甘寨村的高一学生小武,母亲患有严重的糖尿病,丧失劳动能力,父亲在外打工,每个月邮寄的600元就是母子二人一个月的生活费。当我们将5000元的助学款交到小武母亲的手里时,小武的母亲当即流下了眼泪。因此,我暗暗发誓要为更多人不再愁学愁医而努力!

据我了解,美国的社会保障项目有三百多种,仅各种退休计划就有十几种之多;社会保障覆盖面广。这在中国几乎是难以想象的。相比美国专业化、体系化的社会工作服务,中国这种多数以民间自发组织的草根慈善社团不仅数量远远不够,而且因为缺乏具有专业知识的规划者和实施者,工作无法达到预期成效,而且社会公信力差。社会工作者的不足将成为制约中国社会稳定发展的一块短板。我愿意奉献于他人和社会,换回一个有价值的人生。

申请者在中文初稿中写了不少豪言壮语,如“以天下事为己任” “我愿用自己的努力,给弱势群体平等生活的希望”等,竭尽全力把自己塑造成一个忧国忧民的高大形象。但读者看完却会觉得这些都是虚浮的口号,甚至会对申请者个人陈述的可信度产生怀疑。


在英文个人陈述写作过程中,我们把这些“高大”的内容全部删除,取而代之的是平实的语言,并加入了适当的幽默元素(详见第一、二段点评)。另外需要注意的是,在描述申请者的“好人好事”时,文章不是单纯的叙述,而是侧重这些事给申请者带来的思考,从而反映出他的思考能力和社会责任感。



1

I originally came from China’s coastal province of Shandong, which is quite well known domestically as well as internationally for Tsingtao Beer, Haier electronic appliances and Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, often referred to as the sage or great teacher of moral principles and social responsibilities. What is often overlooked in the Judea-Christian dominated western world is that it was Confucius, a couple of centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, who came up with the so-called golden rule: “You should not do unto others what you do not desire yourself.” People in Shandong are generally okay with the fact that many foreigners credit the Bible, not Confucius, for the adage (格言), but they would be somewhat offended if the outside world fails to recognize that Shandong has some of the prettiest and most livable cities in China, and that the province is the economic powerhouse of China and among the most affluent Chinese provinces, with a nominal GDP well over 4 trillion yuan—about US$712 billion. 

点评这一段的幽默反映在两个方面。


第一,笔调轻松。申请者虽然表面上是在抱怨不公,但实际上是在介绍山东对世界文化和道德标准的贡献。文字的可读性要比那种忧国忧民的强多了。

第二,自嘲。文中说山东人不会介意外国人不知道自己挂在嘴上的做人标准“己所不欲勿施于人”其实是从山东“出口”的儒家思想,却会因虚荣心作祟介意外国人不知山东美丽富饶这一事实,这就是自嘲。



2

This is not the Shandong I knew intimately. The part of Shandong where I grew up, on the west side, is called Liaocheng. There, one-fifth of the population, close to a million, are categorized as either below the poverty line or low-income. And yet, for three years now, the local government has invested more than four billion yuan on a cultural preservation development project aimed to restore the central part of the city to its ancient forms. There has been no indication that the investment has benefited the local people, many of whom are desperately trying to uplift themselves out of poverty.

点评:第一段用轻松调侃的口吻提到山东如何美丽富饶,山东人如何为自己挣得了面子,而这一段笔锋一转谈到了山东贫穷落后的一面。“我”的所见所闻和“我”的生活经历让人轻松不起来。于是这和第一段形成了一个具有讽刺意义的对比(irony),而irony本身也是一种幽默。

3

My interest in the marginalized and underprivileged sectors of the Chinese society stemmed from my years of experience as a volunteer. It all started in May 2008, when China’s southwestern Sichuan Province was hit by a deadly earthquake that claimed approximately 69,000 lives and left five million people homeless. Not long before the earthquake, my grandfather passed away. I knew how difficult it was personally for me to experience the loss of a loved one. As I watched TV reports of younger children in Sichuan having lost all other family members or older folks having to bury their children who perished under the rubble, I could not even begin to imagine their suffering. I told myself I should do something. In the following several weeks, I organized a fund-raiser at my high school. The event attracted many students and teachers who either gave money or school supplies or spent time with me collecting donations inside the school campus and in residential areas outside the school. When I handed our donations to the Red Cross on behalf of our school, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I realized that as an individual, my means were limited; but as a team, as a group and as a society, our strength was boundless. I learned that leadership is all about identifying and championing a good cause, galvanizing (激励) people and demonstrating that giving is rewarding.

I have since regularly participated in charity and volunteer work in my hometown of Liaocheng. For two years, I volunteered at local nursing homes and orphanages once a month and all through my summer breaks. I was also a member of the Spring Rain Charity that provided monetary support to school children whose families could not afford to have the kids attend school. My most memorable encounter was with Wu, a junior high school student who lived with his diabetic and bedridden mother in a poor village outside the city proper. His father was a migrant worker whose meager income, which he sent home, was not enough to provide the bare necessities, let alone buy books and pay tuition for Wu. At one point, Wu told his mom that he wanted to quit school and join his father as a migrant worker so the family could at least have two incomes. His mother was furious and told him never to enter the house anymore if he ever wanted to quit school. Such was Wu’s plight: he was an honor-roll student with outstanding academic performance, and yet he could not go on studying when his mother could not afford to visit the doctor. When I presented the 5,000 yuan check (about US$800) on behalf of Spring Rain Association in support of Wu’s schooling needs, both he and his mother starting crying. When Wu said his ambition was to finish school and get gainfully employed so he could take his mother to a big city hospital for treatment, it was my turn to get teary. I was happy for Wu, but I was sad that many students like Wu right here in Liaocheng needed help: but help is not coming soon enough.

点评:同样是列举“我”的好人好事,但英文稿增加了一些“我”的其他信息,比如“我”的祖父在汶川地震之前刚过世不久,用来说明“我”对于灾区人失去亲人感同身受,这种移情作用促使“我”去为灾民募捐,这无疑比中文原稿的陈述可信度要高。


此外,有关资助贫困学生一事,中文原稿说“我暗暗发誓要为更多人不再愁学愁医而努力”,而英文稿故意放低姿态,说“many students like Wu right here in Liaocheng needed help”。言下之意,“我”个人做的非常有限,“我”该怎么办?这反映出申请者是在思考问题而不是急于表功。低调和幽默一样,代表的是一种豁达。同样 “I realized that as an individual, my means were limited; but as a team, as a group and as a society, our strength was boundless” 也反映了学生不愿招揽功劳,而是愿意把功劳给他人的大气。

4

I took an AP macroeconomics class last year. I know China still has a long way to go before we enact legislation to protect the interests and well-being of the economic and social underdogs. The social security system in China, as it is, does not even cover half of the population. In economics, I learned that an unemployment rate of about 4%~6% is considered healthy and that lower rates are seen as inflationary due to the upward pressures on salaries. From a social worker’s point of view, behind these numbers are hundreds and thousands of people who are struggling to put food on their tables, or who are forced to quit school or give up medication. They simply cannot survive if their financial, emotional, psychological, educational and medical needs are not met. In the United States, social work, as an academic discipline, a concept, a career and a cause, has a long history and wide acceptance and recognition. In Liaocheng, in Shandong, and in the People’s Republic, social work is just beginning to emerge in the public consciousness. Much can be done and much needs to be done.


点评:最后一段比较巧妙地把“我”在AP 宏观经济课程中学到的一些相关知识和将要攻读的社工学结合起来:经济学认为4%~6%的失业率是好事,能帮助有效抑制通货膨胀,但一个有同情心的人会设身处地去为那些失业人群着想,对他们来说失业无异于灾难临头,他们的财务、心理、教育和医疗等问题怎么解决。这种换位思考的能力给“我”学社工做了很好的铺垫和解释。“我”的动机也很明确,比“我愿意奉献于他人和社会,换回一个有价值的人生”那样的空洞口号要来得真实和精彩。




最后,我把小布什的耶鲁毕业典礼演说当中有关段落拿来跟大家分享,我们一起去体会和欣赏幽默(尤其是自嘲)的魅力和力量:



“ I congratulate all the parents who are here. It's a glorious day when your child graduates from college. It's a great day for you; it's a great day for your wallet. (Laughter.)


Most important, congratulations to the class of 2001. (Applause.) To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students -- (applause) -- I say, you, too, can be President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) A Yale degree is worth a lot, as I often remind Dick Cheney -- (laughter) -- who studied here, but left a little early. So now we know -- if you graduate from Yale, you become President. If you drop out, you get to be Vice President. (Laughter.)


This is my first time back here in quite a while. I'm sure that each of you will make your own journey back at least a few times in your life. If you're like me, you won't remember everything you did here. (Laughter.) That can be a good thing. (Laughter.) But there will be some people, and some moments, you will never forget.

Take, for example, my old classmate, Dick Brodhead, the accomplished dean of this great university. (Applause.) I remember him as a young scholar, a bright lad -- (laughter) -- a hard worker. We both put a lot of time in at the Sterling Library, in the reading room, where they have those big leather couches. (Laughter.) We had a mutual understanding -- Dick wouldn't read aloud, and I wouldn't snore. (Laughter.)


Our course selections were different, as we followed our own path to academic discovery. Dick was an English major, and loved the classics. I loved history, and pursued a diversified course of study. I like to think of it as the academic road less traveled. (Laughter.)

For example, I took a class that studied Japanese Haiku. Haiku, for the uninitiated, is a 15th century form of poetry, each poem having 17 syllables. Haiku is fully understood only by the Zen masters. As I recall, one of my academic advisers was worried about my selection of such a specialized course. He said I should focus on English. (Laughter.) I still hear that quite often. (Laughter.) But my critics don't realize I don't make verbal gaffes. I'm speaking in the perfect forms and rhythms of ancient Haiku. (Applause.)

I did take English here, and I took a class called "The History and Practice of American Oratory," taught by Rollin G. Osterweis. (Applause.) And, President Levin, I want to give credit where credit is due. I want the entire world to know this -- everything I know about the spoken word, I learned right here at Yale. (Laughter.)

As a student, I tried to keep a low profile. It worked. Last year the New York Times interviewed John Morton Blum because the record showed I had taken one of his courses. Casting his mind's eye over the parade of young faces down through the years, Professor Blum said, and I quote, "I don't have the foggiest recollection of him." (Laughter.)

But I remember Professor Blum. And I still recall his dedication and high standards of learning. In my time there were many great professors at Yale. And there still are. They're the ones who keep Yale going after the commencements, after we have all gone our separate ways. I'm not sure I remembered to thank them the last time I was here, but now that I have a second chance, I thank the professors of Yale University. (Applause.)

That's how I've come to feel about the Yale experience -- grateful. I studied hard, I played hard, and I made a lot of lifelong friends. What stays with you from college is the part of your education you hardly ever notice at the time. It's the expectations and examples around you, the ideals you believe in, and the friends you make.

In my time, they spoke of the "Yale man." I was really never sure what that was. But I do think that I'm a better man because of Yale. All universities, at their best, teach that degrees and honors are far from the full measure of life. Nor is that measure taken in wealth or in titles. What matters most are the standards you live by, the consideration you show others, and the way you use the gifts you are given.


Now you leave Yale behind, carrying the written proof of your success here, at a college older than America. When I left here, I didn't have much in the way of a life plan. I knew some people who thought they did. But it turned out that we were all in for ups and downs, most of them unexpected. Life takes its own turns, makes its own demands, writes its own story. And along the way, we start to realize we are not the author.


We begin to understand that life is ours to live, but not to waste, and that the greatest rewards are found in the commitments we make with our whole hearts -- to the people we love and to the causes that earn our sacrifice. I hope that each of you will know these rewards. I hope you will find them in your own way and your own time.


For some, that might mean some time in public service. And if you hear that calling, I hope you answer. Each of you has unique gifts and you were given them for a reason. Use them and share them. Public service is one way -- an honorable way -- to mark your life with meaning.


Today I visit not only my alma mater, but the city of my birth. My life began just a few blocks from here, but I was raised in West Texas. From there, Yale always seemed a world away, maybe a part of my future. Now it's part of my past, and Yale for me is a source of great pride.

I hope that there will come a time for you to return to Yale to say that, and feel as I do today. And I hope you won't wait as long. Congratulations and God bless. (Applause.) 



作者介绍——Mr.Gu


文书 | 面试辅导

文书辅导殿堂级大师


教育学和传播学硕士学位,密歇根州民主党参议员立法助手,拥有多年从事美国“财富500强”的管理培训经验。此外,还拥有超过20年的美国常春藤大学申请文书辅导和面试辅导经验,学生不乏被八所常青藤和全美前三十的名校录取,是业界公认的殿堂级大师。长年在北美、欧洲和亚洲举办大型演讲,在杂志、报刊发表留学文书话题类文章,同时著有多本英文写作指导类书籍,拥有大量的读者粉丝。

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