Think identity, personality, experience.

It’s your first day of university in a new city, in a new country. You think about how everything around you is so foreign and new. The professor is reading off names on the roster in a calm and easy manner. As the list progresses, the professor begins to tug on his collar, sweat buds forming on his forehead, and you know – you just know it’s your name next and he doesn’t know how to pronounce it. That’s when you realise the only thing new and foreign around there, is you.

I understand that my name is foreign, and different, but that does not make it hard. I have the right for you to learn how to say my name, the same way I learnt how to say yours. Sometimes, people don’t try. They feign indifference and keep on saying your name as it comes to them by nature. But in so many places, names have a significance that you can’t just disregard. Oh, what is in a name? A name defines a history, a past, a tradition, culture, religion – and beyond. Your name is what your parents or grandparents chose for you – it is yours and yours to keep. It is you, as an individual, you as a person, and changing that, when it isn’t your choice, that means something.

Is it wrong that every time my name came on the roster, and my professor sweated a little, I felt ashamed? Is my name such a strain that it brings stress upon those that do not know of my culture and ancestry? I don’t know. It shouldn’t have to be.

Recently, a programme called “My name, my identity” was put into works to express the importance of pronouncing a name correctly. Let’s be honest, it’s not that hard to learn how to say a name when we live in this modern world where technology is a mere tap away and knowledge is irrevocably infinite?

So don’t ask me what’s in a name, don’t ask me what’s in my name. Because frankly, you should already know.

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