Many people have asked me why I picked “Ivy” as my American name. They want to know, is there anything special about this name? Well, the story of choosing this name is kind of silly. At the time I was only in the sixth grade; the English teacher from my class wanted to call everybody in the class by an English name instead of by our Chinese name. My English teacher gave me two options for the English name, one was “Lily” and another one was “Ivy”. I had no idea what “Lily” and “Ivy” meant at that time. The reason why I chose “Ivy ” instead of “Lily” is because “Ivy” only has three letters:” I-V-Y”, but “Lily” has four letters: “L-I-L-Y”, so it was easier to remember how to spell “Ivy” than “Lily”.
Since I started to study in the States, people usually asked me: “So, what do you prefer to be called? Mengxi or Ivy?”
“Well, just call me Ivy,” is always my answer.
If people ask why “Ivy,” I always give a smile or tell people there`s no reason, instead of telling people why. Today, I am going to tell you why I like “Ivy”. I love to be called “Ivy”, because I can feel this is the real me, and this is who I am. Our name is one of the symbols to make us different from others. Your name should make you feel like it belongs to you, and this should be the thing that you can tell people, this is mine. I know how my Chinese name came to be, but I have never felt that it is something that is really mine; there is nothing special about this name. When my mom was pregnant, everybody was saying that she looked like she was having a baby boy; even when she went to the hospital, the doctor also told her the baby would be a little boy. My parents and my grandma were very excited for the “baby boy” to join the family. My mom told me that they got many cute baby boy`s clothes and toys at that time, and they chose a boy`s name for this baby.
Finally, it was 1994, July 16th, the day of the birth. Just five minutes passed, and a new life joined the family, but different from what everyone was expecting, a baby girl came instead of a baby boy. Some of you may know about the “son or boy preference” culture in Asian countries, and my family was a typical family with the “son or boy preference” culture. When my parents learned that the baby was a girl, they felt a bit disappointed. On the same day, in the morning, my grandma, who is my father` s mother brought the soup to the hospital for my mom, and she was ready to see the baby. When my grandma got downstairs, she asked my father, “How is my grandson?”
My dad said, “We got a girl, and she is very healthy.”
According to my dad, my grandma`s face changed right away; she passed the soup to my dad’s hands and said: “Tell your wife to take that child to her mother`s place until I want to see them. Shame on her for not bringing our family a boy.”
Obviously, there was no happiness, at that moment, for my joining the family. My grandma used to be the head of my family, so she was the one who was supposed to name me. But she was very disappointed that I was a girl. What I heard from my mom is that I had no name until the day my parents had to get the birth certification for me, and my grandma finally found a character, with no particular meaning, that a girl could use for my name.
When I was growing up, and starting to make friends, people would ask me the special meaning of my name. I remember once when I was in elementary school, one of my friend’s parents asked me what “Mengxi” means. I answered them that there was nothing special, my family just picked whatever the character because I needed to be called something. Then, I don`t know how, my parents found out, but they got very angry about what I told my friend`s parents. Later, my parents told me seriously, “From now on, if people ask you what your name means, just tell them it means “hope.” You know, that`s what the character ‘Xi’ means. Other people do not need to know about the story of your name.”
That`s why I sometime feel the name “Mengxi” doesn’t mean anything special to me. After I got my English name, Ivy, for couple years, I also started my journey to study abroad. I began to use the name I choose for myself. I started my new life using the name Ivy. My life truly has had a lot of changes; in these four years of study and experiences in the United States, I slowly began to find myself. Four years ago, I was afraid of to live in a brand new place and of starting everything over in a totally different environment, but now I am happy with all the changes in me. I am Ivy, and I am enjoying being Ivy.
Ivy Han ‘14