DIANA CHAO

DIRECTOR | FILM • COMMERCIAL

【異鄉人】Mental Maps

I have never been to America before. When I was an English major as an undergraduate, I took a course called “Oral Training II – American Culture” (I know oral training sounds weird, but it’s really just a conversation class, not something now you’re picturing in your mind.) But I don’t think culture differences are something I can learn from any class. People always ask me how I think of Americans and if I get used to American culture. It is a good question to think about.

I was that kind of person who had difficulties fitting into new environment (Usually it took me a year), and it gave me a hard time when I went from junior high to high school, and so on, so I was anxious before I came here. (And it got much worse before the semester began because Mike tried to convince me that I shouldn’t be in the production program but writing program.) So, I’m surprised how it turned out. I like the session I’m in and classmates I work with. I think I’m very lucky. For most of the time I don’t even feel that I have to make efforts to get into the environment.

When I was in Taiwan, I think people there are very different, but I was wrong. Compared to Americans, Chinese people are very similar. I thought they’re very different because as a Chinese, it’s just easy for me to sense those subtle differences from the inside out. My cultural background enables me to know another Chinese person very well in a short time –according to the way he dresses, acts, talks, the schools he’s been to, the city he comes from, things he likes to talk about, language he chooses to use, etc. Also it’s easy for me to have a general idea what kind of person he is, and if I would like to know him more. It’s like I have a GPS in my mind so that I can locate another person at my mental maps. And since America is another continent, I don’t have a map for that. Even though I know where one comes from and I can understand what he says literally, I can barely read more than that. Because of that, I realize that people can be this poles apart and I can be less arbitrary and judgmental when I know a new person, giving him a space but a location in my mind.

我的一個好友曾說:人美好的質性有很多種,特別只是其中的一個。我想我是來這邊之後,才領會了這句話的意思。這裡是學習謙虛的好地方。學習謙虛的看待自己,學習不輕易的論斷他人,那些過去我所依恃的東西,既不偉大也不渺小,就只是真實的存在著,真實的存在,然後不會白費。在台灣的時候,我覺得每個人都是很不同的,我能夠依循一些簡單的資訊,將一個人做基本的定位,比方這個人是哪個縣市的人、家裡是做什麼的、以前唸哪個學校、大學主修甚麼,以及在交談的過程中,累積對這個人的想法:他是個怎樣的人?我想不想再多認識他一點?「這個人聰明嗎?有才華嗎?看書嗎?特別嗎?」在來這裡後,我才知道這些我用以定位他人的差異有多麼微妙,好像我手中握有一份地圖,只要能知道這個人位在地圖的何處,我就能感到安全。但當這個人不在我的地圖上,當我知道這個人從哪個州來、哪個學校畢業、大學唸甚麼,這些資訊對我來說不承載意義的時候,我才明白何謂真正的差異。語言的隔閡減緩了感知的過程,這種感覺就像聽別的語言的歌曲的時候,不那麼容易感受到唱者的功力、他的情緒和他這個人給我的感覺,所有的感受似乎都隔了一層。但有趣的事情是,因為這些巨大的、超出我的想像的差異,反而使我能夠很快的接受,人是可以這麼不一樣的,不再只關切一個人特不特別,或者和我有共同的興趣和交集。

過去的我非常習於用語言和文字來表述自己,但在這裡我被迫丟開這一切,開始深細我的觀察,透過生活的細節和相處,而不再憑藉一個人說出的言語或他的文字來認識他人。到了這個地方後,我方才學會了有別於文字和語言之外的,另一種落實於生活的的敏銳。我非常感謝這個環境教會我的一切。我由衷的認為,能來到這裡真好。

(photos taken by the author, all rights reserved)

One Response to “【異鄉人】Mental Maps”

  1. Z

    没有最好的地方,只有最適合自己的地方。不管身處何地,學會做誠實守信正直的人,學會在與別人交往的過程中完善自己,才是最大的意義。
    「能來到這裡真好」真的是對某個地方最大的讚美了。~~

    Reply

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