I was sitting in class today, while we were discussing the key topic of the day. Someone said something, and I was suddenly hit with a memory. Since I’m recalling this many MANY years later, it is more of a paraphrase of that memory…
I was sitting in English class in high school, when the teacher was taking attendance.
When he finally got to me, he called out my name.
I started putting up my hand, and froze. I didn’t get why. He looked at me, and said, “Is that you?” I nodded. He continued calling out the rest of the class.
Throughout the class, I kept wondering what it was when it dawned on me. I went to him after class to ask.
“Sir, why did you pronounce my name like that?”
“Oh, did I do it wrong?”
“No…it’s just that others have never pronounced it that way before.”
“But I was right?”
“Yeah pretty much.”
“Which part did I get wrong?”
So I said it back to him.
“Okay, I’ll work on that.”
“No, it’s fine, it doesn’t bother me.”
“Regardless of whether or not it bothers you, it is part of your name and identify. I should do my best to match that.”
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow Sir.”
He ended up being one of my favourite teachers. Not only for the extra recognition for my name, but for the sake that he cared. People thought he was easy, since we watched Star Wars. But he was always trying to engage students in discussions about English, and I did love how he would get us to question the viewpoints of the characters that we were studying.
I do remember thanking him so much for recognizing what I thought was such a minor thing, and making me realize that I needed to ensure that I did the same.
While working abroad, I was always doing my best to do that. Yes, because I can read the language, one would assume that I wouldn’t have trouble, but I needed to physically see the name to be able to pronounce it correctly. It was one f the reasons why I would suggest new instructors to try and learn to read. Being phonetic, it was relatively simple for most. But the ones who made the effort, you can see how thankful students were when their names were pronounced correctly in their language; that they didn’t have to rely on the Westernized names that they were asked to adopt for the sake of making it easy for us.
Anyway, it is something that always motivated me to learn the names quickly and correctly, and it was through this discussion I was reminded how I got there.