读郑尹莉 (Cherry Zheng) 的文章《碎片空间》仿佛像是看着一面颠倒的镜子、又或是像用手机的翻转屏幕照相一样。和她一样，我跨跃不同的国家和文化生活。不同的是，我是个白人，我从小住在百分之八十五人口为华人的新加坡。
其实，我感到非常幸运。在我旅居新加坡的那十四年，我从未感觉曾有被排斥。我在忍受着新加坡严苛教育的同时也能得心应手地学习华语 。然而，回想那十四年地时光，我最深刻的回忆其实是一些不自在的感觉， 它使我在新加坡上学时一直有种人在他乡为异客的彷徨。记得在人头攒动的礼堂里，因为我比新加坡的同学们要高，不仅我的棕色头发熠熠发光,， 早上站着唱国歌时也是宛如鹤立鸡群。我每换一个学校便增加一番愁苦：我总是需要忍受新同学们对我表露的惊奇。我经常需要解释：“不，我不是欧亚（混血？）人，我是高加索人”；“对，我可以跟你一起上中文课”；“不，我的家人不会每晚都吃汉堡包”。每到新学校一个星期左右，我的新同学们才能对我的存在习以为常，但是那些惊讶的眼神仍然会频频跟随着我，无论是在地铁上，在另外学校的辩论比赛上，还是在补习课等等场合。我永远都不会忘记走进小学六年级会考的口试时，考官那满脸惊讶的神情。
我回澳洲许多年了，现在也大致融入了当地社会，但我还不是一个“完整” 的澳洲人。有些英文字我还会发错音；我的朋友们还说我是“外国人”；而且我也不懂为什么澳洲人觉得《Rhonda and Ketut》的广告那么好笑。不过，就像尹莉写的，我们这样的人不需要刻意去适应所有的地方。我是我，我创造我自己的空间。随着世界的不断全球化，我认为我们这小小的“第三文化孩子”的空间也会持续扩大。对此我十分期待。
Reading ‘Jigsaw Moments’ was like looking in a mirror, but in reverse – maybe it was more like looking at myself on a flip-screen front-facing camera. Just like her, I straddle countries and cultures. The difference, however, is that I am a (white) Australian who grew up in Singapore, where the racial majority is Chinese.
While there are many expatriates and expat children in Singapore, my parents sent me to a local public school instead of one of the exorbitantly expensive international schools. This meant I was the only white student in a school of 1000 or more Asian kids. (Well, there was a Finnish boy once, but he got expelled). I was very lucky: no one was overtly xenophobic towards me, I could handle the much higher standards of education, and I moved there early enough to pick up Mandarin naturally. Yet the predominant feeling I will remember about my 14 years of living there is one of discomfort.
I felt constantly awkward. Even my dark brown hair shone out amongst the black in the school canteen; and as we sung the national anthem every morning, my head would stick out as I stood amongst my naturally shorter peers. Every school change – primary, secondary, then junior college – brought the added angst of having to endure the visible surprise of my new schoolmates. No, I’m not Eurasian, I’m Caucasian. Yes, I’ll be in your Chinese classes. No, we don’t eat hamburgers for dinner every night at home. After a week or so I’d be as integrated into the new school community as any other student, but those stares were always around – on the train home, at debating competitions in other schools, at tuition classes. I’ll never forget the look of shock on the face of my examiner when I walked into the room for the Chinese Oral component of my Primary School Leaving Examination.
So when I left Singapore to do my last two years of high school in Sydney, I thought the discomfort was finally over. I won’t stick out! People will understand my family’s dynamics! I’ll belong! Ah, naivety. I arrived to find that while I didn’t feel Singaporean, I certainly wasn’t all that Australian either. My new classmates greeted me with ‘oh my god, I heard that you’re like, a genius’ – indeed, the education standards here were, at first, disorientingly low. I also had to re-calibrate my personality. To this day, for example, I can’t articulate what exactly makes this so, but people have a different sense of humour here. That first year was hard.
It’s been a while now, so I’m pretty much adjusted, but I’m still not a ‘normal’ Australian. I still pronounce some English words incorrectly. My friends dismiss my ignorance on noughties-era Australian politics with ‘oh yeah, that’s right, you’re foreign’. And for the life of me, I really don’t see what’s so funny about Rhonda and Ketut. But, like the author of ‘Jigsaw Moments’ said, I don’t have to make myself fit in anywhere. I am me, and I make my own space. And as the world continues to globalise, our little niche, the web of third-culture kids, will grow. I look forward to it.