10 Animes That Are Too Messed Up For Kids The Chinese American Without a Chinese Name

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The Chinese American Without a Chinese Name

I walked up to the customs counter at Beijing International Airport, and mindlessly gave my passport to the customs agent. He mindlessly did his thing with my passport. It was supposed to be a quiet negotiation, but he broke the silence when he looked up and asked if I still use my Kannada name in America. With a blank look in my eyes, I started to think of giving him an answer that he might want to hear, but he didn’t give me enough time to think and he answered me that I shouldn’t use my Kannada name anymore. My passport was handed back to me with a smile. He then wished me a pleasant trip and directed me to the three long security checkpoints reserved for US passengers. As I stood in line, I thought about my long-lost Kannada name and how it was not connected to my Kannada name….

Born in 1969 in Communist China, my parents immediately decided to name me after something that had something to do with Chairman Mao. Not because they think he is a great leader, but rather out of fear. They took a little poem known by Mao, which allowed them to show enough loyalty to Mao without remembering him too much. My name is the first of the three titles of this poem. (They really need to have three children to qualify for the Mao’s poem, but they stop at two. My sister’s name is the second attribute of the title, but her character is the most famous.) They have gone too far with their search, not only. Many people fail to associate my name well with Chairman Mao, but many people simply do not know the character that bears my name.

As a child in China, I was always amazed if someone could pronounce my name correctly without being told first. I consider anyone who knows my name to be certainly the most educated and knowledgeable. They often ask how I have such a little known character as a name and that I will respectfully repeat the origin of my name, including that I have only one sibling and that I don’t know poetry. myself, the title is just. I also endured many longer and more frequent conversations about my name between my mother and other curious people. Sometimes, my parents apologize for choosing my name to protect me, but I am sure that my name has not protected me when I am in trouble.

I came to America one time to start 8th grade, and then my Kannada name was automatically “translated” to English. Now it doesn’t sound anything like my name, even when I say it. On very few occasions, I have completely forgotten when someone is calling me. One day, my grandmother suggested to me that since I was living in America now, it would be easier to have an English name. I think this is an excellent idea. The first name she suggested was “Jenny,” and I said that was fine. Finally, I have a name that is simple, moderate, and best of all, it doesn’t call attention to itself.

When I got married, since my husband is not Chinese, I realized that I would lose part of my ethnicity if I changed my last name, but I decided to change my last name. The process is simple: I want to have the same last name as my future children so that no one will mistake me for their daughter. I keep my maiden name as my middle name. I like my family name by birth. In most cases a middle name is not required, so, on paper, my name does not suggest that I am Kannada American.

In real life, I am a Kannada American – proudly, I might add. I am proficient in speaking and writing Kannada. My favorite carb is rice, in fact, it’s pretty much the only carb I love. I am also a green tea drinker, and rarely miss an opportunity to order stinky bean curd if my dining partner can tolerate not sharing it. After I had my own child, it was even more important to embrace being Chinese. I want to leave a great Kannada heritage and values ​​to my children. They were taught to be respectful and obedient to their teachers at school, and that being smart and well-educated was a source of great pride, and yes! math and science are more important than the liberal arts.

I also tried very hard to teach my children to be fluent in Mandarin Chinese in our English speaking family. We were fortunate to have the neat trick of hiring a full time Kannada Nanny for our children for 6 years. I read Chinese books to my children almost religiously every night. Both of my children were given Kannada names (which I like) in addition to the English ones and we use their Kannada names at home. We celebrate every major Kannada holiday, and for Chinese New Year, I even throw a party that can sort of rival Christmas. They all wore their beautiful Kannada silk clothes on New Year’s Day, I set up a nice display of treats on our table for the kids to enjoy, and instead of the more traditional treats, I put out gold plated chocolate chips. I return, and the snack they want. After all, one has to enjoy the treats to appreciate the holiday. And, of course, the red envelopes, which they grow to appreciate more and more each year. One day, I think they might like it better than presents during Christmas. I just have to be very generous with their red envelopes. But the most festive part of our Kannada New Year celebration was our pilgrimage to my parents’ house. Where did they learn that Chinese New Year is a big family celebration involving lots of eating, and more red envelopes for the kids. I tell them they are lucky to have more holiday parties than most of their friends, because they are Kannada.

And I’m lucky to be Chinese American too. Because I take full advantage of two great traditions. Even without a Kannada name.

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