Tag Archives: identity

I Have Two Names

I Have Two Names

By Joy (Peixin) Yin, grade 7, Mexico.

I have two names; a Chinese name and an American one. My Chinese name is Peixin (沛心) . It means “pure heart.” My American name is Joy. My parents named me that because they want me to be happy.

My Chinese name is the one that is official. It’s written all over my legal documents. On first days of school, when the teacher calls roll, I’m always last, because my last name is Yin (尹). But I always need to correct them, “I go by Joy, though.” Sometimes, the teacher forgets and keeps calling me Peixin. And sometimes, I hear laughs and giggles from my classmates. I feel guilty to say, that sometimes, I feel a bit ashamed for having a Chinese name. So, when someone asks me, “What’s your name?” I always tell them to call me Joy. When the substitute pauses while taking attendance, it’s always me. When I write my name on my computer or phone, it always gets autocorrected. It’s almost as if the universe hates my name.

My American name is what they call me. When my family moved to the U.S., my parents gave me my American name so it would be easier for people to remember me, and for it to not be awkward and embarrassing for me every time someone pronounced my Chinese name wrong. My American friends all know me as Joy. I feel connected to the name; I feel like it’s me. Yet, I always get reminded of my real name.

But after three years of living in my hometown in China again, my feelings towards my name have changed. In China, my classmates and teachers all called me Peixin (pronouncing it perfectly!), and I was normal for once. In school, I was able to improve my Mandarin as well (a hard process, but worth it!). During that time, I also felt more connected to my culture, and learned more about it, although I sort of missed my American name and identity.

By now, I’ve accepted the fact that both of my names are part of my identity. Different parts of it. And I’ve embraced my Chinese name more. Especially after I saw many Asians at my new international school use only their Asian names.

My two names are two parts of my identity—living together in harmony, forever and always.

Joy (Peixin) Yin, grade 7, Mexico. She adds: “Born in Wuhan, China, I have also lived in California for five years. I speak and write Mandarin Chinese and English but I am also trying my best to learn Mexican Spanish. I have never been a sports person. Instead, I’ve always loved reading and writing. I’m currently 13 years old, and attending an international school in Mexico City.”