While most Chinese across the world were carrying forward their New Year celebrations into the first week of February, Chinese students at Columbia University in New York – among other East Asian students – were reported to be facing an episode of xenophobia.
Door tags bearing their names in the residence halls of the campus were ripped off. In response, the students came together to explain the meaning of their names in the video titled Say My Name.
While Chinese names may sound similar to foreign ears, in actual fact each part of every name has multiple layers of meaning. Generations within the family deliberate on a name for months, even after the baby is born.
Name tags being vandalised, in this case, becomes a sensitive issue.
“You don’t just pick one or two random characters and name yourself that – you inherit a name’s weight from all the previous generations, and you strive to perfect yourself every step of your life to honour it,” writes sophomore Yan Huhe from Hohot, Inner Mongolia in the Columbia Spectator.
The acts of vandalism came after President Donald Trump’s executive order of heavy restrictions on immigration to the United States.