In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we asked our readers and local leaders to share the history and meaning behind their names.
Click on the videos below to hear stories about how given names — and the process of reclaiming them — can shape identities, reveal family histories, and provide cultural connections.
State Representative Tram Nguyen
State Representative Tram Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American woman in elected office in Massachusetts, defines ”reclaiming your name” as having pride in your name and being able to take pride in hearing your name.
“I have a sense of pride when I tell people my name because it tells so much to them about what it is that I value and what it is that I represent,” she said. “I’m just so glad to have the opportunity to remind people how to pronounce it correctly and to remember this last name.”
Mu-Chieh Yun (雲木婕)
For Mu-Chieh Yun (雲木婕), a member of the Boston Cultural Council, her name is a reflection of her identity and family history. She admires the intentionality her father had when choosing names for his children.
“You can see that [my dad] is really proud of the work they put into naming my sisters and me,” she said. “I think he’s also, as an adult, proud of the woman that we have become, because I really do think my sisters and I have looked up to the names that he’s given us.”
Szu-Chieh Yun (雲思婕)
Artist Szu-Chieh Yun (雲思婕) feels that understanding and learning about her name is a lifelong process.
The last name she shares with her sister Mu-Chieh is a Mongolian name, which she appreciates for its rarity and beauty when written in Traditional Chinese.
Chulan Huang (黄楚岚)
For Chulan Huang (黄楚岚) the Chinatown, Downtown, and Leather District liaison for Mayor Michelle Wu’s Office of Neighborhood Services, learning to embrace his given name was a freeing experience.
“There is this great quote from Confucius that goes, ‘wherever you go, go with all your heart,’ ” Huang said. “By embracing my name, Chu, that is my way of living my life through that quote.”
Olivia Yarvis can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her @OliviaYarvis and on Instagram @oliviayarvismedia. Randy Vazquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @RandyVmedia and on Instagram at @RandyVazquezMedia.