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American Youth on College Life (10) 精选

已有 12461 次阅读 2012-5-1 20:29 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察|关键词:face 3 office normal

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This is the tenth in aseries of unedited article about college life in the US written by my grandsonDaniel Kim who is going to school in New York City. They are of potential useto Chinese students coming to US for university study.

 

           One thingthat I have never been really able to adjust to in the Eugene Lang College of the New School of Liberal Arts (hereafter simplydenoted as Eugene Lang) is the way that students address the teachers. Forthose of you who don't know, I used to enroll in Drexel University inPhiladelphia, before I took a year off and then transferred into Eugene Lang inNew York. Students at Eugene Lang refer to the teachers by their first name, ina very casual manner.

 

           Throughoutmy college career, I have always referred to my teachers as “Professor”. Thisis because that is what they are, scholarly teachers of high rank. They haveearned the right to be known as Professor, as recognized and accomplishedacademics. Note that the qualifications for Professor vary around the world,but in the United States, a Professor usually refers to a senior teacher at acollege or university. The word “Professor” comes from Latin, literally aperson who professes, usually an expert in an art or science. My grandfather isa Professor, and my father (his son in law) would sometimes refer to him as“Professor”. Not because he was ever his student, and not in a joking way, butbecause my father respected my grandfather for what he has done andaccomplished with his life. It was a way of giving him his due.

 

           Byaddressing my teachers as Professor, I am not only recognizing theiraccomplishments, but I am also mentally reminding myself of my place. We arenot equals. I am there to learn from them, they know more than I do, and Iultimately answer to them for my final grade. That is why when I came to EugeneLang, I initially felt uncomfortable with how casually the students wouldaddress the Professor. It felt weird to me. In general, it is better to err onthe side of caution and give your Professors the respect they deserve, unlessthey explicitly state otherwise.

 

           This holdstrue not only for college, but for life in general. You should never presume tobe too familiar with people. For example, on the first day of class, theteacher will read the roster and try to learn people's names. When it comes tome, I often get the question “Do you prefer Dan or Daniel?”. My name is Daniel,but a common nickname is the shortened version “Dan”. The reason they ask me isbecause they want to know what to call me, if I have any preference in beingaddressed. Personally I do not, and I tell them this, and most of the times Iend up being called Dan simply because it is shorter and easier to say. Namesand titles are important to people, they are a crucial part of your identity asa human being. While I may not care, some people really do have a name theypreferred to be called, for any number of reasons. Some people may prefer to becalled by their last name or middle name. Some people may have a nickname orname they prefer that has no visible relation to their actual name. If that isthe case, it would be best to oblige them and avoid asking rude questions,unless they feel comfortable asking why.

 

           One moreexample is that I had a Professor who insisted that we the students all addresseach other by the title Mr/Miss followed by the last name. So for that entiresemester, in that one class, I was Mr. Kim. I ended up never learning the firstname of anyone in that class. Our Professor wanted us to all see each other ascolleagues and not be overly casual with one another. As I said, the rules willvary from class to class, depending on who is teaching it and what school yougo to. If one of my Professors at Eugene Lang tells me that they really wouldprefer that I address them by their first name instead of Professor, I will ofcourse do so. But for now none of them have said otherwise, so I will continueto address them as Professor, because it is more comfortable for me that way.The lesson to take away from this is that different people prefer differentways of being addressed. You should always lean towards being more formal untilthey tell you otherwise (Y.C.Ho addednote: Very good advice for everyone.)



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