Grace Yan's Testimony
“Under God’s power she flourishes”
2014年进入多伦多大学法语系后，我最初的计划是在四年内完成学业，然后找到一份普通的翻译工作。我们法语系的所有学生都有两个方向供选择：文学和语言学。我从来都不懂科学方法论，却一直都喜欢阅读，所以我就选择了文学作为我的研究方向。我当时没有想到把这个方向坚持下去 - 这个选择只是我在进入翻译学校之前必须走的一个步骤。我一开始对研究生学习并没有兴趣（只问我爸爸，他曾经问过我一次是否考虑过攻读博士学位......），主要是因为我认为这是借着延长了不必要的在校时间，而推迟了对我们这些没有选择更“功利”专业的人来说非常可怕的求职期。但是在大学第一学期结束时，我偶然去了一个关于研究生博士生学习的信息会议，我意识到它并不是我想的那样。我的兴趣被激发了;我开始与教授和助教们谈论研究生博士生课程，以了解更多关于它们的内容。我也意识到翻译，我原本为自己设想的路线，对我来说太技术化，而且它不需要太大的创造力，这对我来说却很重要。于是我开始考虑读研究生院了。
My original plan, upon entering U of T in 2014, was to finish my studies in four years and then find an average job in translation. All the students in our French department choose between two streams: literature and linguistics. I’ve never had a mind for the sciences, and I’d always loved reading, so I chose literature. I didn’t envision sticking with it – this choice was just a step I had to take before translation school. I didn’t have an interest in graduate studies in the beginning (just ask my dad, who asked me once if I’d ever consider pursuing a PhD…), mostly because I thought of it as staying in school for an unnecessarily long time in order to delay the job-hunting period that is so dreaded for those of us who don’t choose more “utilitarian” majors. But at the end of my first semester in university, I accidentally went to an information session about graduate studies, and I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it was. My interest was piqued; I began talking with professors and TAs about graduate studies to know more about what it was like. I also realized that translation, the route that I’d originally envisioned for myself, was too technical for me and that it didn’t involve much creativity, which was important to me. I started considering grad school.
At an alumni event, I met a lady who put me in contact with her friend, a PhD student. I was able to talk with her, and she led me to see that “I want to find a job” or “I want to become a professor” wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to complete a PhD. People who do a PhD are motivated by their interest and passion for research. I also learned from her and several professors that their line of work is very un-glamourous (contrary to what some people may think…) and that there are very few job positions. So, if I was going to head in this direction, I needed to make sure I could commit to it.
在接下来的五年里，我对文学有了更多的理解和欣赏 - 特别是对于19世纪的文学。我能够有一些同龄人得不到的机会：我还在本科学习时，就参加了一个研究生研讨会，在法国呆了一年，写了一个本科论文，甚至在教授们的会议上发表并演讲（我现在感到尴尬......）。其中一些机会就是主动给我的，其它的机会需要我努力才能得到的。这是一个挑战我自已的领域，但我仍然游刃有余 - 不仅显示在我的成绩单或简历中，而且显示在我的人际关系中。所有的教授都知道（并且记住）和喜欢我，经常向我提供推荐信，给我书，询问我的研究兴趣。我觉得这个学术世界可能比翻译更适合我。但我知道，我不能只是因为我喜欢而做出决定。
Over the next five years, I developed a greater understanding and appreciation for literature – especially for that of the 19th century. I was able to have some opportunities different from those of my peers: I participated in a graduate seminar while still in my undergrad, spent a year in France, wrote an undergraduate thesis (apparently not encouraged by the department, as I found out), presented papers (that I’m now embarrassed of…) at conferences, even alongside professors. Some of these opportunities were quite literally handed to me, while others were harder to get. It was a field that challenged me, but in which I still excelled – not only in things that appear in my transcript or my CV, but also in my relationships. All the professors knew (and remembered) and liked me, regularly offering me reference letters, giving me books, asking about my research interests. I felt like this academic world might be more suitable for me than translation. But I knew I couldn’t make a decision just because I liked it.
在过去的四年里，神给了我很多，很多成功，但我记得最清楚的经历和我最感恩的经历是艰难的时期和失败，因为它们让我更深地体验到了祂的善良。它们向我展示了神的智慧和我自己的愚蠢，我需要谦卑，积极的和看似消极的经历都是祂的恩典。通过所有这一切，主让我知道，爱和更多地经历了祂 - 这就是为什么我相信我可以继续在学术界是祂的意愿。自从我偶然参加了这个信息会议以来，我一直在为今后的方向祷告。差不多四年后，是时候发出我的博士学位申请了，看看有没有门打开。我告诉我的父母，如果这些申请都没有被接受，我会放手，去找一份工作，我不会挑剔工作是什么。
God has truly given me a lot, a lot of success in these past four years, but the experiences that I remember most clearly and that I’m most grateful for are the difficult times and the failures because they allowed me to experience His goodness in a deeper way. They showed me His wisdom and my own foolishness, my need to be humbled, and that both positive and seemingly negative experiences are His grace. Through all of this, the Lord has let me know, love, and experience Him more – that was why I believed it could be His will for me to continue in academia. I’d been praying for direction ever since I accidentally attended that information session. Almost exactly four years later, it was time to send out my PhD applications and see if any doors were open. I told my parents that if none of them were, I’d let it go, find another job, and I wouldn’t be picky about it.
U of T had always been my safety net. It was the only school that I had applied to for my Master’s program because I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting in. And when applying to a PhD program, I thought the same thing: U of T will always want me, even if no other school does. For mostly sentimental reasons, it was my first choice: I would be able to stay close to my family, to my church family, to the professors who had invested so much in me. As for my future career, I didn’t have specific expectations or wishes. In order to maintain its prestige, a university will rarely give its own doctoral students tenured positions. If I had a PhD from U of T and stayed to teach, I would probably be some contract lecturer stuck teaching grammar courses, but that was okay with me. I had never wanted a particularly high-paying job, just a job that would allow me to afford what I needed. I don’t want to do a PhD to get some high-income job or to feel good about my accomplishments; I want to do it to be able to continue reading, writing, and doing research and (ideally) be able to make a living from it.
我向几位教授询问了申请哪些学校的建议，他们都根据自己的经历和遗憾分享了他们的想法。我曾计划申请一些在大家眼中可能奇怪的学校 - 一些常春藤联盟大学，一些不起眼的有着粗略的网站的美国小型学校和一些在魁北克的学校（我从小就是取笑魁北克人的）。还有安大略省的一所学校，说老实话，我一直很瞧不起它- 因为我的研究兴趣在目前来讲并不是特别受欢迎（他们在80年代和90年代......），我很难找到能够指导我研究的教授。理论上，在多大有三位德高望重的教授 - 他们都出版了很多著作 - 都可以做我的导师。但后来我发现两个人退休了，另一个人不再指导博士生。我意识到是时候离开多大了，我不能再依赖于我对它的熟悉和在那里的成功。
I asked several professors for advice regarding which schools to apply to, and they all shared their thoughts based on their own experiences and regrets. I had planned on applying to a strange assortment of schools – a few Ivy League universities, some obscure small American schools with sketchy websites, a bunch in Quebec (I grew up making fun of Quebecois people), a school in Ontario that, to be honest, I’d always looked down on – because my research interests are not particularly popular at the moment (they were in the 80s and 90s…), it was hard for me to find professors who would be able to supervise my research. Theoretically, three professors at U of T – all of them well respected and well-published – could have all been my advisor. But I found out later that two were retiring and the other doesn’t advise PhD students anymore. I realised that it was time to leave U of T, that I couldn’t depend on my familiarity and my success there anymore.
我去了多伦多大学的职业中心，以获得我的申请方面的帮助。在看我的简历和我的个人陈述时，辅导员似乎对我非常失望和担忧。突然间，我的简历似乎完全是空的。我的个人陈述也很糟糕。我的申请看起来很可怜。在那时候，辅导员甚至问我：“你确实知道你正在申请攻读博士学位，对吗？”她甚至让我写出更好的版本时再回来。我回到家完全崩溃了。我意识到，我每次能够说“如果这不是神的旨意，那么我就不去做博士”是因为在我的脑海里，我仍然相信神要我去做。但是在那一刻，这看上去似乎是不可能的，我实际上没有资格做任何事情。我第一次意识到，实际上我有可能无法攻读博士学位。我意识到我一直在倚靠自己，因为我已经习惯了神给了我所有这些成功，在不知什么时候，我开始认为它们都是我的成就。这些成就已经减少到了什么都没有的地步，我没有什么可以依赖的。我求神饶恕我，但感谢神让我看到这一点，并且 - 不假思索地 - 求祂续拆除任何需要拆除的东西。我知道的还不到一半。
I went to my school’s Career Centre to get help with my applications. While reviewing my CV and my personal statement, the counsellor seemed very disappointed and worried for me. Suddenly, my CV seemed totally empty. And my personal statement was just bad. My application looked pathetic. At some point, the counsellor even asked me, “You do know you’re applying to do a PhD, right?” She even asked me to come back when I could write a better draft. I went home and broke down. I realized that I was only able to say “If it’s not God’s will, then I won’t do a PhD” because at the back of my mind, I was still convinced that He wanted me to. But at that moment, it seemed like it was impossible, that I actually didn’t qualify to do anything. For the first time, I recognized that there was an actual possibility that I wouldn’t be able to do a PhD. I realized that I’d been relying on myself because I’d gotten used to God giving me all this success and at some point, I started thinking they were all my accomplishments. These accomplishments having been reduced to nothing, I had nothing to rely on. I asked God for forgiveness, but thanked Him for allowing me to see this, and – without thinking – asking Him to continue tearing down anything else that needed to be torn down. I didn’t know the half of it.
当我第一次发出申请时，我妈妈告诉我她会祷告只有一所学校接受我。这也是她20年前如何为自己的工作祷告的 - 她不知道哪个选择最适合她，但她知道自己选择肯定会错。所以她求神给她选择-只给她一个机会。我对她感到很沮丧，因为在我看来，如果只有一所学校接受了我，那将是我最不想去的最不起眼的学校，（我之所以申请它，因为它是一个可能的备选）因为如果一个不太好的学校都不收我，那一所好学校怎么会接受我呢？妈妈说这只会让神的带领更加清晰。我指责她把自己的做事方式强加给我。这很糟糕。但事实上，我很不高兴，因为她不同意我认为应该采取的方式。我认为我自己的逻辑最有意义 - 神不会做一些不合逻辑的事，祂会吗？ （相当愚蠢的想法，我知道。）
When I first sent out my applications, my mom told me she would pray for only one school to accept me. That’s how she prayed about her job offers 20 years ago – she didn’t know which option was best for her, so she asked God to only give her one. I was upset with her because in my mind, if only one school accepted me, it would be the least prestigious school that I didn’t really want to go to but only applied to because it was a possible back-up. Because why would a good school want me if a less good one didn’t? She said that would only make God’s guidance clearer. I accused her of imposing her own way of doing things on me. It was pretty bad. But in truth, I was upset because she didn’t agree with the way I thought things should go about. I thought my own logic made the most sense – and God wouldn’t do something illogical, would He? (Pretty stupid thinking, I know.)
同一周，我收到了来自两所学校的消息：我的“备选”，那个我看不起的学校的拒绝，以及普林斯顿大学的面试邀请。我惊呆了。我认为我有机会拒绝的学校却彻底地拒绝了我，我甚至不敢认为是我可能的选择的学校却向我发出了积极的信号。当我最开始申请时，我并不特别想去或不去常春藤盟校 - 我只是想找一个可以指导我研究的人。那时，我把我的目光投向了纽约大学，因为它有一个比较大，比较悠久的学院，拥有更多的教职员工，而且它比普林斯顿更有可能录取我。那时候我不认为我有任何常春藤的梦想，但我意识到这是因为它对我来说是不可能的。
That same week, I received news from two schools: a rejection from my “back-up”, not-particularly-prestigious school, and a campus visit invitation from Princeton. I was stunned. An outright rejection from a school that I thought I would get the chance to reject, and a positive sign from another school that I didn’t even dare consider as my first choice because it was so unlikely. When I’d first applied, I didn’t particularly want to go to an Ivy League school more than I wanted to go to a non-Ivy League school – I was just looking for someone who could supervise my research. Up until then, I’d had my sights set on NYU because it had a bigger and older department with a larger faculty, and it was a more likely option than Princeton. I didn’t think that I had any sort of Ivy-League-dream, but I realized then that this was because it didn’t seem like a possibility to me.
但是现在普林斯顿是一个可能性，我想知道，如果我的两个首选都录取了我，会发生什么：我会选择那个在学术上更有意义的，或者那个会让我满意地说“是的，我去了常春藤学校”的 ？我已经说过，让我走上学术路线的是我对研究的热情，但当时我意识到，我对赢得他人钦佩的热情可能更大。这里还有另一个问题：如果我必须选择一个，我永远不会满意。如果我去普林斯顿，有些事让我不高兴，我会想知道“如果当时我选择纽约大学会怎么样”。我永远不会感恩。所以，我偷偷开始和妈妈一样祷告。 （但后来我向她道歉时告诉她，她是对的。）
But now that Princeton was a possibility, I wondered what would happen if my two top choices both accepted me: would I choose the one that made more sense academically, or the one that would give me the satisfaction of saying “Yeah, I went to an Ivy League school”? I’ve said that what led me to take the academic route was my passion for research, but it was then that I realized that my passion for the admiration of others was possibly even greater. There was another problem: if I had to choose one, I would never be satisfied. If I went to Princeton and something displeased me, I would wonder “What if I had chosen NYU instead?” and I would never be grateful. So, I secretly started praying for the same thing as my mom. (But then I told her when I apologized and admitted to her that she was right.)
当我到达普林斯顿时，我真的很紧张。我借了一堆打算谈话的教授们写的书，并试着浏览它们。我想即使我的个人资料不那么令人印象深刻，我仍然可以用我的热情和兴趣给他们留下深刻的印象。我决心有个完美的面试。当然，我自己决心做这做那总是导致我自己的焦虑。我正在和该学院的一名在读的博士生交谈，并向她询问如何避免紧张的提示。我担心一位教授会问我一本我从未读过的书，或者我不知道一些问题的正确答案 - 但她告诉我一些我认为我会记得很久的事情：“这不是我们在普林斯顿做事的方式。”然后我不再紧张了。我回到酒店，把书放进行李箱里，睡了个好觉。
When I arrived at Princeton, I was really nervous. I’d borrowed a bunch of books written by the professors that I was going to speak with and tried skimming them. I thought even if my profile wasn’t that impressive, I could still impress them with my passion and interest. I was determined to ace the “interviews”. Of course, my own determination to do this or that is always the cause of my own stress. I was talking with a current graduate student at the department and asking her for tips on how to stop being nervous. I was worried that a professor would ask me about a book that I’d never read, or I wouldn’t know the right answer to some question – but she told me something that I think I’ll remember for a long time: “That’s not how we do things at Princeton.” And then I was no longer nervous. I went back to the hotel, packed my books into my suitcase, and had a good night’s sleep.
在出发之前，我能够选择我希望与之交谈的教授。我要求与法语部门以外的一些教授交谈，因为我试图告诉他们我有跨学科的兴趣。所以我只与法语部门的两位教授会面 - 而其他学生和五六位教授讲话 - 我直到最后才意识到这些人就是决定是否要录取我的人。两位教授中的一位是我最期待见面的19世纪专家，另一位是我没有要求与之交谈的教授。她的名字只是写在我的日程表中，可能是因为我想见的另一位教授没有来。但是，奇怪的是（特别是因为她研究方向不在我所研究的世纪），我更喜欢这次见面谈话，因为我没那么紧张，我们能够谈论很多不同的事情。
Before the trip, I was able to choose that professors that I wished to speak to. I asked to speak to a number of professors outside of the French department because I was trying to tell them that I had interdisciplinary interests. I only had meetings with two professors from the department – while other students were speaking with five or six – and I realized too late that these were the people who would decide whether or not they wanted me. One of the two professors was a 19th-century specialist that I was most looking forward to meeting, and the other was a professor that I hadn’t requested to speak with. Her name was simply written into my schedule, probably because another professor I wanted to see wasn’t available. But, strangely (especially since she wasn’t in my century), I enjoyed this meeting more than the others because I wasn’t as nervous, and we were able to talk about a lot of different things.
我在普林斯顿大学遇到的其他申请人都非常出色 - 而不仅仅是“聪明”。从纯粹的学术角度来看，我不得不说 - 不是夸耀，而是要证明一点 - 我有一个颇为令人印象深刻的记录，特别是对于开始她的硕士学位只有几个月的人。我的观点是，没有任何的学习，努力或准备可以帮助我明白如何获得这个机会。我生命中没有任何人可以向我解释我如何达到这个目标。
The other applicants that I met at Princeton were brilliant – not just “smart”. From a purely academic perspective, I have to say – not to boast, but to prove a point – that I have a pretty impressive record, especially for someone who was only a few months into her Master. My point is that no amount of studying or effort or preparation could have helped me understand how to earn this opportunity. I didn’t have anyone in my life who could explain to me what it took.
I had no idea what I was doing among these other candidates. They were brilliant in a way so different from what my parents and other people told me Ivy League was my whole life. They’re not people who have their heads in books all day (as Chinese people might think); instead, most of them have taken a lot of time off from school. They travel to teach in obscure villages. They watch TV like normal people. They’re not just curious about academics, they’re curious about the world. They can talk about anything, and they show such a genuine interest for what other people have to say. And I couldn’t even be jealous of them because they were all so kind and I loved talking with them. I’d never felt so inadequate in my whole life. It wasn’t that I wished I’d spent more time studying or that I’d done this instead of that, but that I realized that these people were from a world totally alien to me.
I broke down crying on the plane home because I wanted so badly to be a part of that world. I truly enjoyed the trip as an experience; I was able to meet very interesting and kind students and professors and see the beautiful (extravagant) architecture of the campus buildings. But after returning home, it felt like it was a glimpse into a world that I would never gain access to. If I wasn’t accepted, I wouldn’t have felt as if some injustice had been done against me. No, I really didn’t deserve to be there. Before the visit, I wanted to go to Princeton, but after the visit, I really wanted to go.
我从来没有为我想要的东西如此地焦虑过。虽然看上去我不太可能被录取，但我害怕最终得到被拒绝的信。我可以很容易地对人说，“这是在神手中”，这当然是真的。如果神愿意的话，我确信我会被录取，但是我担心祂不愿意。问题不在于我是否会被录取，而在于我太想被录取了。为什么我这么担心呢？为什么我那么想去普林斯顿？当然，它可以满足我对研究兴趣的追求。但我不得不承认，既然我现在更了解普林斯顿，我想要能够告诉别人我来自这样的地方。我继续省察我的动机，发现了一些非常丑陋的东西：不仅是骄傲，还有深深的苦毒根源于过去被伤害了的骄傲。某个曾经最好的朋友，某个老师，某一些理工科天才的团队，每个看不起我贬低我的人 - 我想要他们全都无话可说。
I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed about something that I wanted before. It was unlikely that I would get in, but I dreaded the finality of a rejection email. I could say to people quite easily, “It’s in God’s hands”, which was certainly true. I was certain that I would get in if God wanted it to happen, but I was worried that He didn’t want me to get in. The problem wasn’t whether or not I would get accepted, but that I wanted so badly to be accepted. Why was I so worried about it? Why did I really want to go to Princeton? Certainly, it would allow me to pursue my research interests. But I had to admit that now that I understood better what Princeton was like, I wanted to be able to tell people that I was from a place like that. I continued to reflect on my motives and found some pretty ugly stuff there: not only pride, but also a deep bitterness rooted in a past wounded pride. A certain former best friend, a certain teacher, a certain posse of math and science geniuses, everyone who had looked down on me, who had belittled me – I wanted to shut them all up.
我不得不承认想去普林斯顿是出于我自私的原因。我是否关心神的旨意？是。但我担心祂的旨意与我想要的不一样。我知道这是我害怕的原因 - 我从经验中知道，我自己的野心总是让我失去平安。起初，我只是想让自己从痛苦中解脱出来 - 如果我不那么在意普林斯顿的话，它的拒绝就不重要了。所以，我求神帮助我放弃我自己所有的欲望，至少在我被普林斯顿拒绝之前。这样我就不会那么沮丧。但通常情况下，我不得不提醒自己，这不仅仅是一个离弃这个或那个的问题，而是我要转向神。我想到了圣诗“献己于主”并阅读歌词。有两节歌词最让我印象深刻：
I had to admit that I wanted to go to Princeton for selfish reasons. Was I concerned about God’s will? Yes. I was worried that His will wasn’t the same as mine. I knew that this was the cause of my fear – I knew from experience that my own ambitions always robbed me of my peace. At first, I just wanted to spare myself the pain – a rejection from Princeton wouldn’t matter if I didn’t care so much. So, I begged God to help me let go of all these desires that I had for myself, at least before I was rejected by Princeton. Then I wouldn’t be as devastated. But as it is often the case, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t just a question of turning away from this or that, but that I needed to turn to God. I thought of the hymn “Take My Life, and Let it Be” and read the lyrics. There were two verses that stuck out to me most:
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
It shall be Thy royal throne.
当我阅读这些歌词时，有一种释放。我所拥有的一切，主都慷慨地赐给了我。在某些时候，事情变得糟糕起来，我开始追求这些，并认为它们是我的。我需要神把这些完全拿走。 “收我聪明并才干，前来做成祢心欢” – 祂赐下天赋，但祂知道它们将如何为祂服务。祂知道为什么祂给了我这些恩典。 “收我意志永属祢” - 我求神使祂的意愿成为我的意愿。 “从今不再为自己” - 我的野心，我的计划，我的自我生活，我的愿望，我自己的欲望都已成为我的负担。我知道最终导致我不安的不是普林斯顿，而是我自己的意愿。所以，我祈求神关闭这扇门，如果它会让我的骄傲膨胀，并导致我的野心成为我的偶像。这很困难。当然，我会为此感到难过，但最终我会继续前进。如果它是一个偶像，它需要离开。最终的问题是，哪个更重要 - 去普林斯顿，还是像基督一样？
There was a sort of release as I read these verses. Everything that I had, the Lord had graciously given me. At some point, things got messed up and I started clinging onto all these things and thought of them as mine. But I needed God to take it all. “Take my intellect and use/Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose” – He’s given talents, but He knows how they’ll serve Him. He knows why He’s given me these gifts. “Take my will and make it Thine” – I asked God to conform my will to His. “It shall be no longer mine” – my ambitions, my plans, my self-life, my wishes, my own desires had become a burden to me. I knew that ultimately, what caused my unrest wasn’t Princeton, it was my own will. And so, I asked God to close this door if it would inflate my pride and lead me to further idolize my ambitions. It was hard. Certainly, I would be sad about it, but eventually I would move on. But if it was an idol, it needed to leave. At the end of the day, what was more important – to go to Princeton, or to be like Christ?
As you know by now, I’ll be heading to Princeton in September. I know this is where God is leading me because my foolishness and even my sins didn’t disturb His plans. Everything I did according to my own will and my own judgment turned out to be the wrong decision. I can’t take credit for being “good enough” to be accepted because I had no idea what they wanted. I can’t even take credit for doing well at the last minute in the interviews. In fact, everything I tried to plan was bad. And everything that was good had nothing to do with me. But I believe God allowed me to make these decisions so that I would see my own foolishness, self-reliance, and pride.
A few hours after I received my acceptance email, I received another one from that professor that I didn’t ask to meet. She congratulated me, told me she hoped I would accept the offer, and that she believed we would work well together. It seemed strange to me at that point that I was able to make an impression on any of the professors, given how much each of the other candidates stood out. Something told me instinctively that she was probably the one who convinced the other professors that I would be a good fit for their department. And I wasn’t even the one who’d requested to meet with her. I took my meeting with her pretty lightly because I was focusing all my energy on trying to impress the other professor that I wanted to work with.
有两位教授通过邮件试图说服我去普林斯顿，我发现这很有趣。他们都说，“我相信你还会有可选择的其它的学校”，因为通常被普林斯顿大学录取的人也被其它很多学校所接受。但对我来说情况并非如此。我和其他人不一样，因为我没有资格选择其它的学校 - 我显然没有以优异的成绩站在他们当中。回想起来，我也很感激只有这一所学校接受了我，因为如果是不止一所，我会想到“当然这所学校想要我。因为我很聪明。显然，他们都想要我。“
I found it funny that these two professors who emailed me tried to persuade me to go to Princeton. They both said, “I’m sure you’ll have your choice of schools” because people who are normally accepted by Princeton are also accepted by a bunch of other schools. But that wasn’t the case for me. I wasn’t like the rest of them because I didn’t qualify for a bunch of other schools – I clearly didn’t land amongst them by merit. Looking back, I’m also grateful that only one school accepted me because if it had been more than one, I would have thought “Of course this school wants me. Because I’m so brilliant. Obviously, they would all want me.”
我后来发现这个部门有一份等候名单。有一个女孩，我非常肯定她会被录取 - 她来自一所私立女子学院，她做了很多国际工作，她是我所说过的博士生的妹妹，她甚至看起来都像是最典型的，最合适的，未来的普林斯顿学生。她是唯一一个我肯定会被录取的学生，但是很明显，她是在候补名单里。如果连她都无法进入，那我当然更不能。我很震惊地发现居然有一个候补名单。如果我有任何机会进入，那将是因为其他人拒绝了他们的录取。但我不在那候补名单上 - 我不是因为他们有一个额外的名额要填补而被录取，乃是因为我是他们的第一选择之一。我觉得我得到的礼物在我眼前变得越来越大。
I found out later that the department had a waiting list. There was this girl that I was certain would get accepted – she came from a private women’s college, she’d done so much international work, she was the sister of the graduate student that I’d spoken to, and she even looked like the most stereotypical, proper, preppy Princeton student. She was the only student that I was certain would get accepted, but apparently, she was waitlisted. If she couldn’t get in, then I certainly couldn’t. I was shocked to find out there was even a waiting list. If I had any chance of getting in at all, it would be because someone else rejected their offer. But I wasn’t on that list – I wasn’t accepted because they had an extra space to fill, but because I was one of their first choices. I felt like I’d been given a gift that kept getting bigger and bigger before my eyes.
And I know that this is a gift from God because the best thing that I got out of this experience wasn’t an acceptance to Princeton; it was the humbling, the repentance, and ultimately the desire to have my heart be God’s “royal throne”. Every new thing that I learn about what this opportunity means leads me to thank the Lord and to marvel at His kindness. His grace becomes more and more amazing in my eyes, and my insufficiency becomes more and more obvious. Princeton is no longer a “goal”, but another season in my life during which I’ll grow and learn more about God. And what excites me the most about beginning my studies at this school isn’t the facilities, the professors or its reputation, but rather what God will do during my time there to let me experience more of Him and love Him more.
在我去普林斯顿面试的前一天晚上，我无法入睡。所以，我打开了一本约拿单.爱德华兹讲道的书 - 我选择了他，因为我打算在第二天下午去看他的坟墓 – 所以我花了几个小时阅读。在“落在愤怒的神手中的罪人”讲道中，他将神称为“一位不欠你任何东西的愤怒的神”。神不欠我祂的儿子，祂也不欠我舒适的生活。祂本可以选择在不给我普林斯顿的情况下教会我这一切。但祂确实给了我这个机会。即使祂没有，祂也是同样充满爱心，仁慈和善良。也许我更容易说出这些，因为我最终得到了我想要的。在任何情况下，我希望我的祷告都不会专注于“主所赏赐的”或“主所收取的”，而是“耶和华的名是被应当颂的”，永远。（约伯记1：21）
The night before I left for the Princeton visit, I couldn’t sleep. So, I cracked open a book of Jonathan Edwards’s sermons – I chose him because I would be visiting his grave the following afternoon – and spent a few hours reading. In “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, he refers to God as “an angry God that owes you nothing”. God doesn’t owe me His Son, and He doesn’t owe me a comfortable life. He could have chosen to teach me all of this without giving me Princeton. But He did give me this opportunity. He would be equally loving, merciful, and kind even if He hadn’t. Maybe it’s easier for me to say all of this because I got what I wanted in the end. In any case, my prayer is that I would not focus on what “the Lord gave” or on what “the Lord hath taken away”, but instead that I might say, “blessed be the name of the Lord”, always.
I don’t talk about personal things very easily, but I have quite a bit to say. And, unsurprisingly perhaps, I express myself better in the written. It took some time for me to gather my thoughts, but it’s helped me better understand this experience. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for praying not for some big school to accept me, but for me to seek God’s will and to have as my only desire to please Him.
普林斯顿大学的座右铭是Dei sub numine viget - “她因神的能力而繁荣”。是在神的能力之下，我兴旺，而不是靠自己的力量;是靠着祂的恩典使我到达这里。我写下这一切，不仅是为了与你分享我的经历，也是为了我自己：我想要记住，是祂的恩典让我开始了这个旅程，也是同样的恩典，可以让我继续这个旅程。从申请时期开始，我想神一直在告诉我如何更好地在学术界服事祂。前边的旅程肯定会是艰难的，但是我将能够回顾这些经历，并看到祂的恩典是够我用的。
Princeton University’s motto is Dei sub numine viget – “Under God’s power she flourishes”. It’s under God’s power that I’ve flourished and not by my own power; it’s by His grace that I’ve arrived where I am. I’m writing down all of this not only to share my experience with you, but also for myself: I’d like to remember His grace which has allowed me to begin this journey because it’s the same grace that will allow me to continue it. Since my application period, I think God has been giving me a better idea of how I can serve Him in academia. It’ll be a tough journey ahead, to be sure, but I’ll be able to look back on these experiences and see that His grace is more than sufficient.