This thought originally appeared in my head about two months ago but because of reasons beyond my comprehension, I haven’t expressed in words until now. Better late than never, right?
Anyway, more than a year ago, I wrote a post called, “What’s in a Name?“.
In that post, I wrote about my decision of whether to keep or change my Chinese name when I became an U.S. citizen. I wrote about some of my choices include Carol, April, and Catalina. In the end, I decided to keep my Chinese name because of its uniqueness and the fact that none of those names really resonated with me.
As a lot of you readers know, I got a job at the end of May. Well, of all the stories I’ve told you about my new job, I’ve left out this one because like I said, I haven’t been able to express in words until now.
It was near the end of the interview, as I sat across the table from Mr. CEO, I watched him stare at my resume like he’s trying to figure something out. “Um, how do you pronounce your name?” I told him and at the same time, I was puzzled because I’ve never had anyone have trouble pronouncing my name especially not a Chinese person.
This guy spoke fluent Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. He was born in Mainland China, educated there until high school and yet, he’s stumped on my name which is spelled in Pingyin (Mainland China’s phonetics).
“Get an English name,” he said in a demanding tone. His tone made me feel like I’m in trouble, like “change your name or else…” Strike one before my first day of work. Ouch!
On my first day of work, my co-worker had me write my name in Chinese characters. “So difficult to say,” she said. I couldn’t believe my ears. Really? Of all the people I’ve worked with from different countries, the ones from my native country are the ones with the enunciation trouble?
A few days later, when another co-worker suggested I should pick an English name. In a hurry, I settled with April. Since then, everyone in the company has been calling me April.
If I could’ve gotten someone to call me April back when I was 13 or 14, it would’ve been my dream but now, whenever I hear that name, I felt a tinge of annoyance. Why did I choose that name? It’s the antithesis of my Chinese name!
My Chinese name means “fog in the mountains” while April means “spring, young, zen” (in my opinion). It’s like yin and yang, light and dark. Complete opposite! Why didn’t I choose something darker?
A few weeks ago, I received a contact list from the Chinese-side of the company and as I looked over the list, I noticed almost everyone had an English name. What’s up with people in China and English names? Almost everyone has an English name! What’s wrong with using your Chinese name? The name given by your parents!
Some of the names on that list were ridiculous. For example, who would pick a name like Koala?
Anyway, I got a little off topic there. All I’m saying is that I’m stumped. I’ve never had anyone demand I should get an English name nor had I ever had someone with problem pronouncing my name ever before. But I guess now that I’ve picked a name, I must get used to it, at least within the boundary of my job, right?