(I think Juliet, was trying to say that names shouldn’t really matter, but I think Shakespeare and I would agree that names do have a certain significance to our personhood.)
When I was the same age as the kids that I’m currently teaching, our head of middle school would stand outside as parents dropped their children off at school. Dr. Banks would try to greet us each by name and wish us a happy day of learning. Looking back, it was a really lovely gesture, a nice way to start school every morning. My only problem was that Dr. Banks would, quite regularly, call me Rachel (not a bad name! just not my name). There’s no malice involved; it’s not as if he were trying not to remember, but it’s one of those things that makes you say, ‘feels bad.’
Coming to Zhuhai, I knew I was going to have 100 or so students, all of whom I would only see once a week. Still, I wanted do my best to make all of them feel special. Moving around as part of a Navy family, I have found I feel really welcomed in spaces where people make an effort to ask for my name and get to know me. I decided that the start of my plan would be to learn all of my students’ names. My friend who did the program last year suggested that I take a video of each of my classes, have them sit in a circle, and say their names. I did that on the first week, and it worked really well for a lot of my classes! (Thank you, Rose!!!) But for some of my classes, life happened and I still don’t know everyone’s name. If I’m being honest, even though I take Chinese classes, Chinese names are still really difficult for me to learn. I silently panic when a student gives me their Chinese name, not because it’s not beautiful or important to me, but because I know it’s going to be about 10x more difficult for me to learn. And then I feel bad about that.
While it’s never my goal to be part of a situation where I am the cause of that ‘feels bad’ feeling, living with that as my first priority is to go through life like I’m constantly treading over eggshells. In partaking in this service learning project, maybe part of what I’m learning to do is to put caring aside so I can roll up my sleeves. I’m not perfect. And I have to continually remind myself that this should not get in the way of me trying my best to do something good.
Sorry not sorry for my cheesey cheesey title ;P