My name was You Wu; I was born in Shanghai, China on February 19, 1998. In Chinese, my name means “no problems” or “no worries”. I like my name, the way it sounded and the way it looked when written in Chinese, ??. I remember when I was around two years old, I was taken to the hospital because of my swelled up ear. The nurse that attended my mom and I had a wide smile and rosy cheeks. When my mom went outside, the nurse asked what my name was. I responded with my name, she knew the phrase that my name connected to, and told me the meaning of it. That was the first time that I knew of my name’s meaning, it was like finding the missing piece to myself.
A couple of years later, when I was around 5 years old, my family and I moved to New York for a better life. After a few days adjusting to the unfamiliar setting, and time difference, my sister and I were going to start our first day school. The night before the big day, our parents told us how to spell out our Chinese names into English letters; mine was You Wu. Because I didn’t understand English then, I didn’t know the real meaning of “you”. I wrote the name on the face of my hand so I couldn’t forget. The next day was the official day my sister and I started our lives in America. I held on to my mom’s beige knee-length skirt standing outside of the kindergarten classroom bawling my eyes out not wanting to make a single step into that room that would determine the next 14 years in my life. Eventually, after causing a big scene, I made my way in the classroom and told my teacher and classmates my name, You Wu. I don’t remember anyone making fun of me because of my name; maybe it was because everyone was too young to understand or no one was paying attention.
Around third grade, my mom and I were walking home after buying groceries; she suddenly asked me if I wanted to change my name into something else. I asked her what to change it to. She said Jasmine, because it was her favorite flower. It didn’t take me a long time to consider it because I thought, “why not? It’ll be a good change for me.” so I agreed. The next day, I told everyone my new name, Jasmine Wu. I don’t remember anyone having a big reaction. Although some people were hesitant because they liked my old name, You; they eventually gave in. Everyone caught on fairly quickly. Soon, whenever a teacher was absent and a substitute called me by my birth name, my classmates would yell out, “JASMINE” and they would catch on quickly. Some people think that I am ashamed of my name, I’m not. I love both my names equally; I changed my name to fit in with the rest of New York. Some of my friends like to call me You as a nickname; I don’t mind it, I actually like being called by my birth name occasionally. You is what make me, me. It connects me with my Chinese culture and family.
Age 13, Grade 8
NYC Lab MS for Collaborative Studies