宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)，位于宾夕法尼亚州的费城，八所常青藤盟校之一。美国第四古老的高等教育机构。独立宣言的9位签字者和美国宪法的11位签字者与该校有关。本杰明·富兰克林是学校的创建人。林徽因和梁思成也在此收获学习成果。其本科商学院排名第一的沃顿商学院更是享誉世界。
刚刚过去的申请季，宾大未能延续前两年的录取率抬高，出现了急剧下降的情况。 今年申请人数是 44482人，录取人数是 3731，录取率仅 8.39%。什么样的文书能入如此高冷的宾大的法眼呢，还是一睹为快吧。
University of Pennsylvania
I GREW UP IN A FOUR-ROOM apartment in the middle of Beijing at the turn of the twentieth century. Common household features such as the existence of stairs within a house were thought of as decadent luxuries representative of the incredibly wealthy. My life was simple. At five years old, it was differentiated by two things, the times I was with my mother and the times I was not.
My single mother was a chemist and professor at the University of Beijing. Even at a young age, she distinguished herself from her peers with her remarkable ambition and intense passion for learning. From growing up in the frigid winds of Northern Mongolia, to becoming one of three students to earn a full scholarship to China’s most competitive university, to working as a government-sponsored chemist in Goslar, Germany, my mother accomplished more before I was born than most people achieved in a lifetime.
Unfortunately, I would not learn of the fabulous successes and arduous trials of my mother until much, much later. All I could understand or not understand at five years old was why my mother was rarely home, why I did not see her for three months during the summer when I lived with my grandparents, and why I was forced to go to a daycare owned by a tyrannical monster who would tell ghost stories to make me cry. Even now, much of my knowledge about my mother’s early life is something I am still piecing together. As was the case then, my full understanding of her brilliant yet ill-tempered persona is continually hindered by the simple troubles of life. Although now, they are the issues of an eighteen-year old teenager rather than those of a five-year old child.
I remember nights we would spend together when she was busy with her research and classes; I would sit in a desk next to her, drawing pictures and imagine that I was her personal assistant. I also remember times when I had to stay home alone because she had a lecture to give or errands to run; I would lean against the window sill staring down into the bleak, concrete streets waiting and watching for the return of a petite form in a bright red jacket. Yet despite the forlorn days and the lonely nights, I feel neither regret nor resentment towards those early years or my mother. On the contrary, I am incredibly proud and grateful for all the difficulties she endured in order to raise me properly. Had it not been for my childhood experiences, I would not have matured at such an early age or developed such a strong sense of independence.
We moved to America in the spring of 1997. The transition of cultures was daunting yet it failed to dishearten my mother. Like every other experience in her life, she treated the move as an opportunity. However, even my mother was not immune to the overwhelming cultural shock, and despite her perseverance and accomplishments, she continually struggled with the language barrier and the difference in societal values.
While my mother was forced to labor against such changes, my young age enabled me to adapt quickly to the new environment. Unfortunately, my “Americanization” has caused a great deal of mystification and incomprehension in my mother. Not only do our manners of speaking differ, but we no longer view traditional beliefs the same way. Her lack of encouragement for my participateion in athletics and her excessive emphasis on my grades have been both frustrating and upsetting. From my gregarious nature and social outings to my obdurate refusals to comply with her every long-established demand, she has been forced to accept the evolution of her daughter from that of Chinese doll to American teenager.
Nevertheless, despite our various differences and my acute assimilation into another culture, I have never lost sight of what mattered most to me, nor forgotten the roots of my heritage and rigorous upbringing. My mother’s persistence and endurance are qualities which I have proudly assumed and carried with me in every activity of my life. From facing the ignorant racisms of elementary classmates to the malicious jealousies of middle school peers, I have never doubted or second guessed the work ethic and moral code that she instilled in me. Her resourcefulness has also been highly influential and taught me of the importance of seeking opportunites. Whether it was working along side Philadelphia Inquirer journalists or researching marketing strategies for a startup company. I have learned and developed with each success and letdown encountered throughout my middle and high school years.
The difficulties of my mother and the difficulties that I faced in two countries on two continents continue to define and shape my personality and character. As mother and daughter continue along the journey of life, I hope that she can come to accept and embrace the daughter whom she has so diligently raised while I hope to slowly unravel the full mystery that is my mother and, one day, finally comprehend and appreciate the entirety of her effect on my life.
第一段揭开作者在中国的生活环境。“four-room apartment in the middle of Beijing”， “turn of the twentieth century”，看似与主题无关的介绍，却让让我们联想到一位单亲母亲的持家能力。“the times with my mother and the times I was not ”，巧妙运用对仗的写法说明故事只关乎作者和母亲，从而引起下文。
第三段，作者以孩子的视角回顾了曾经同母亲的生活。 “All I could understand or not understand”看似矛盾，实则是作者想表达自己并不完全了解母亲。“Even now...I am still piecing together”, “my full understanding...is continually hindered by the simple troubles”, “now, they are issues of an eighteen-year old teenager ”，都说明这种不完全了解的状态一直延续至今甚至以后。因为不了解，所以产生矛盾也是必然的，这也是对后文的铺垫。
第四段，作者虽然还在懵懂的阶段、且受了许多委屈，但并未因缺少陪伴而怨怼母亲。相反，她用自己的方式去化解生活中可能产生的消极情绪。比如 “imagine that I was her personal assistant”。同时，作者也很关心母亲，比如“waiting and watching for...a petite form”。文书写作中，常常需要一些负面信息来烘托作者的形象，但是如果作者对不利环境无法作出正确的反应，会引起读者对作者的误解。 “petite”一词准确的刻画了作者眼中母亲的形象。
第五段，“overwhelming cultural shock”是作者抛出的新问题，是母女之间矛盾的引线。
第六段，作者和母亲采取了不同的方式来应对 “cultural shock”。“forced”可以看出母亲是被动的， “labor against”说明她很吃力。 “young age”使读者能够理解作者迅速的 “Americanzation”，而不会评价作者这样做是否正确。“mystification”和 “incomprehension”看似都是不解，但 “mystification”是困惑的状态， “incomprehension”是缺乏认识导致的不了解，词尾 “-tion”和 “-sion”形成了押韵。 “lack of ” 和 “excessive emphasis”，一个过少，一个过多，在作者看来母亲的管教没有把握好分寸。 “Chinese doll”代表了西方人眼中中国传统教育观念里好孩子的形象。
第七段，“assimilation”和前文的 “Americanization”在本文的含义是一样的，都是 “同化到美国文化”。 “Never lost sight of...”, “nor forgotten the roots of...”说明作者同化到美国文化后，对于母亲的教育和曾经的文化所持的态度。“instill”如同输液一般受到母亲的道德熏陶，用词生动。
第八段，“two continents”比 “two countires” 更能反映出两种文化的巨大差异。结尾是开放性的，作者和母亲之间的分歧还会存在。我们不知道作者是否最终能够”comprehend and appreciate the entirety of her effect on my life”, 但是我们相信无论处于何种文化中，作者都会选择去包容和理解。