Issue Three: Roll Call


The teacher stood at the front of the classroom, calling out the roll.

“Daniel, Cassandra, Ben…” A long pause.

“Here”, I would respond.

Over the years I became accustomed to responding to the pause as teachers struggled to pronounce my foreign name. It started to become a game of I wonder what my name will turn into this time?

Some people collect stamps; I collect different variations of my name. Suzie, Sez Wan, Sichuan? Believe it or not, I’ve even gotten Sonic once at a café.

Many times I wished that my parents had just given me a normal western name to make my life easier. Even now when I order food I use a different name. But I do this not out of embarrassment of my name, but for efficiency’s sake – although, truthfully, it often ends up in me forgetting what name I used and missing my order.

Over time I’ve come to see the perks of having a unique name. It gives me an opportunity to speak about my heritage – about Hong Kong and its delicious food and gigantic shopping malls. It gives me a chance to talk about my family – about my siblings whose names share the same beginning. And it gives me memories of all the hilarious encounters I’ve had because of my name.

Many of my ABC friends have shared similar experiences, sometimes rather negative ones. So to those people or companies who blindly discriminate against ‘foreign’ names, just because our names are different doesn’t mean that we are any less. After all, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."