A Chinese student Americanized her name to fit. It takes more to feel him

He knew that if people could name him, it would be easier to build a house for himself in the United States.

It takes more than a new name to feel like your own

Taking an English name is not an uncommon habit among Asian international students. One of Young’s old high school teachers explained in a podcast, “The [international] Students from Spain and students from Italy put their names. Students from Asia did not give their names. I was there for five years maybe there was a student who gave them a Chinese name. Everyone There was an American name. “

After looking at the list of baby names for hours on end, Young settles in Aria as it reflects his hopes for a new life in the United States.

“It’s a musical term. [An aria] It’s like a song, “he tells NPR.” It’s almost like my new life is going to be harmonious. “

But changing his name does not mean he was admitted to his new Catholic high school in the middle of the Dutch state of Pennsylvania.

“Being Asian is not really accepted or appreciated,” he explained. Young said he and other Asian international students faced petty aggression and racism at their new school.

“People will come to us and ask if we eat dogs,” he recalls. “People will come to me and ask questions, you know, ‘What is it like to be Asian?’ It’s as if they haven’t seen any Asians before. “

Still, he was determined IncludedAnd a large part of it means assimilation into American culture.

“I rejected my name. I rejected Yang Qin Yu. I rejected my Asianness because I felt I was,” Young said in his podcast.

Four years into his life in the United States, Young has realized that he wants more balance between his two parts – from Shanghai to Young Qin Yu and New York City’s Aria. He continues to build a life for himself in the United States, fighting for how to respect his Chinese identity. He said that’s why he has “what’s in the name.”

A name to reflect where he is going and where he was

In her podcast, which Young recorded on her college radio station, she tells the story behind her given name: her parents used the Chinese characters for “water” and “heart” in the hope that she would be “tender, pure and watery.” ., “As well as” has a brave and kind heart.

Young recorded his winning podcast on his college radio station WNYU, where he has his own radio show. (Sequoia Carrillo / NPR)

For a long time, her Americanized name, Aria, didn’t seem to make much sense to her. But now, he says, “the life of this state is important to me. And these people know me by the name Aria. So this name means something to me because there are some people here whom I know by this name.”

He feels that his American name is a part of himself that he has power over – it is a way for him to shape what he wants to be.

“I chose this name for myself. And this is the person I created myself,” he says. “In a way, I think it’s releasing.”

As he continues to find his feet in the United States, his old name seems more and more distant. But his last name, Young, doesn’t seem right anymore.

“It’s me as my parents’ daughter. Not just my mother’s daughter, but my father’s daughter, and that kind of bothers me a little bit,” she admits.

Young says his relationship with his father was strained and he was initially raised by “two very strong and resilient women” – his mother and his grandmother. She wants to take her mother’s first name, Xu, as a way to honor her mother’s role in her life.

While paying tribute to where he came from, this is another step towards building a home for himself in the United States.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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