Call Them By Their Names


I’ve always been very conscious of my name. It’s common, but it’s spelled differently which often leads people to mispronounce it. And I hate that. Every time someone says “Cat-lyn,” my skin crawls, and I thank my mom. So I just go by Katie.

As I was meeting my first-year seminar group on my first day, my number one objective was to learn as many names as possible. First-year seminar groups are designed to make sure that everyone knows someone during their first few days. Some of my closest friends were made through my FYS group.

But we didn’t necessarily get off to the best start.

As we were completing the obligatory orientation icebreakers, one student just wasn’t participating. Initially, I was annoyed. We were tossing a ball around the circle. What’s so hard about that? He was huffing and puffing.

I couldn’t help but think, “Come on, dude. Get it together. Just play the game.” 

But he huffed, and he puffed, until he blew up.

He chewed all of us out, including our first-year mentor. See, what I hadn’t realized was that as we were tossing the ball to each other, we were supposed to be saying one another’s names. And while it was a large group, most of us avoided tossing the ball to him because we didn’t know his name. 

He was an international student, and instead of allowing us to call him by a nickname or an English name, he wanted to be addressed by his name. And rightly so. 

Our group quickly learned to say his name and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. He explained to us later why it’s special to him and what it means. It was a wake up call we all needed.You’re going to meet so many people from all over the world at college. As you meet them, make it a point to learn the correct pronunciation of their name. Don’t be afraid to try. You all might have a laugh about it, but the effort won’t go unnoticed and it won’t be as hard as you think.