“A name represents identity, a deep feeling and holds tremendous significance to its owner.” – Racheal Ingber.
On Friday, hosts Kelly Diaz and Juan Vazquez of the COS watch party series discussed the importance of names. Throughout the meeting, the hosts and the attendees examined our names’ integrity, greatness, and history while also exploring their own stories.
“I’ve been called everything that you can imagine and it brings back memories of tenth grade English class where we got a permanent substitute teacher and he would not say my name Belen. . . so he just decided I was Martin and that’s what he called me.” – Belen Kersten.
Belen Kersten wasn’t the only one to receive such a response. Jenny Saechao went through six elementary schools known as Jenny, although her real name is Meuy Finh (pronounced as Mey: the U is silent U). As early as 1988, instructors had difficulty pronouncing her name that they decided it was easier to call her Jennifer.
“And before I knew it, I came home with my homework assignment with Jennifer on it.” – Jenny (Meuy Finh) Saechao.
As she went through her school years, she reached the 4th grade, where Jennifer was amongst four other Jennifers. Instructors found it hard to know who’s who, so they gave short nicknames to each Jennifer. Jennifer (Meuy Finh) Saechao was stuck with Jenny.
The name Jenny was in every award, certificates, report cards, mail, all the way up to her High School Diploma. This went off for a large portion of her years in school until she applied for Fresno State, FAFSA. They red flagged her and denied her financial aid. Due to this predicament, Jenny had to prove she was Jenny to ultimately figure out that it wasn’t okay to be called Jenny when you’re also Meuy Finh.
“I grew up with more than 16 years of my life as Jenny.” – Jenny (Meuy Finh) Saechao.
Being called a different name when it isn’t your real name can be quite a difficult situation. That is why Catherine Medrano, a COS professor, will call on students and ask how they want their names pronounced.
“A lot of time students will say whatever and it’s not whatever it’s what you want me to call you, what do you want to answer by. . . I don’t think we should ever get to a point where people just accept that everyone says their name wrong or gets their name wrong.” – Catherine Medrano.
As Belen, Jenny (Meuy Finh) Saechao, and Catherine Medrano put it. Our name is our identity. It is what we refer to as and what we go by. Our names are the gateway to the best connection to individuality. When someone calls us by our name, they are recognizing us and respecting our individuality. To be called and referred to as anything else other than our name or mispronounced is a fracture into who we are. Thank you to COS for acknowledging the importance of our identity.
“Integrity: A name is the blueprint of the thing we call character. You ask, What’s in a name? I answer, just about everything you do.” – Morris Mandel.
To attend the upcoming COS Watch Party Series on March 15 from 1 – 2 p.m and March 19 from 1 – 2 p.m, click the zoom link listed below.