EXCLUSIVE: Columbia Students Fight Xenophobia With A Powerful “Say My Name” Video

BY WENDY HUNG

You may call me Wendy, but my real name – the one I actually prefer – is 千惠, it means “thousands of blessings.” I don’t just like this name, I’ve always LOVED this name. Unfortunately, it spells out as “Chien-Hui.” My parents probably knew I’d hate the number of times I would need to correct people due to mispronunciation, instead they gave me “Wendy” when we immigrated to the United States. But honestly, if you called me chen-hway, (Yes, it’s pronounced that way. Lightly, please don’t shout it.) it will always make my day.

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After a series of xenophobic attacks at Columbia University, a group of Chinese students responded with a powerful video that has gone viral. When I saw it, I had to reach out to the producer of this beautiful message, Huhe Yan, the undergraduate student exclusively told Jetset Times:

I created the video because the official email sent out by the university was only addressed to the Asian student organizations on campus. I feel like the incident needs to be brought to the attention of the large campus community.

The incident that Yan refers to is regarding a rising number of Asian students with Chinese names discovered their name tags on the doors of their dorm rooms vandalized or ripped off. On the other hand, name tags with Western names remained unscathed, according to campus reports.

The maker of “Say My Name” video which has now garnered over 345K views on Facebook, Yan explains:

The video also sought to combat the stereotypes that Asian students, or specifically Chinese students, are silent and take punches without complaint. We do have an attitude and voices to be heard and seen. More importantly, it was a friendly invite to all those who might be biased against us. We really wanted to establish conversations and mutual understanding.

As a way to speak out against xenophobia, the video showcases several students with Chinese names describing the meaning behind their names. Many Chinese students applauded the compelling message:

“Disgusting! People shouldn’t have to be ashamed of their real names 😡”

“This is amazing!! I can’t believe I just saw this, but it was really touching :)”

“Wonderful! I plan to share this with my high school students. We have about 15% international students from China in our school. Thank you so much for this beautiful, touching, and important piece.”

Asian American Alliance at Columbia University responded the xenophobic incidents with a statement denouncing the hateful actions. Over 200 people have signed the statement.

In the end, I had to ask what Huhe’s name means, “to preach harmony,” he said. It seems he’s living up to the beauty of his characters.

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