Thursday, May 11, 2006

an Arab named Eddie!

I have observed a phenomena here in Canada among the Arabs that I have met! Well, I need to mention that I did not seek to meet them, but my roommates, a German and a French only hang out with Arabs here in Charlottetown……well, maybe because it's almost impossible to hang out or befriend locals! For a while, I thought it was me, but then I noticed that almost all the Non-Canadians in the town, hang out with each other and rarely hang out with locals, even some Canadians who are not from this province, tend to enjoy the company of other non-locals! I donno what is the secret of the locals in here, maybe they are hiding some treasure and are afraid that if they mingle with non-locals, the secret may get revealed!

Anyways….that was not the main topic….the observation was that of all those Arabs….I'm the only one who keeps his/her name! I mean all of them, at least the ones that I have met or my friends have met or hang out with, have dropped their names and picked up new western names!

I kinna hate that!

I believe that if I'm to live in some foreign county, which is what I'm doing now, I have many obligations toward this country and its people, for example, speaking their language, learning their culture, obeying the rules, etc., which is what I'm doing as well. But I don't have to change my name and use a name that is easy for anybody to pronounce!

My name is Ihsan, of course nobody can pronounce it as it should be pronounced, I get called, Issan, Izan, Ishan, but my friends are closer everyday to say it right. So why would I consider or think of changing my name into Edie or Mike or Lauren! Hmmm, I guess Lauren doesn't really work with me…or does it? Nice name anyway!

I have met people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine here in Canada, none of them kept his/her name!

I knew so many Canadians, Americans, Europeans and even Eastern Asians when I was in Damascus, but I don't recall meeting someone who has changed his/her name!

While the announced reason is taking an easy-to-pronounce name! I'm 100% that the reason is to hide their backgrounds and their origins!

I think those who do not respect their original identity; they will never be able to respect their new identity, simply, because they have no self-respect whatsoever.

Yalla, that's it for now…..


Yazan said...

Now that's an extreme case of "I hate where I come from, although I donno shit about it, and i dont care"...

that's bad

Shannon said...

Interesting. In the past, many of my Korean and Chinese students changed their names because of the difficulty Westerners had in pronouncing them and the fact that some (like "Young Ho") had very negative connotations. NONE of my Arab students ever changed their names!! They were actually quite proud of their hertitage.

Some students told me once that changing their name was a way to have a new beginning, a new identity, and be freed from obligations associated with their lives in their country.

jill said...

hey ihsan!
i have a korean friend who changed her name to "sally" for the same reasons, but we eventually convinced her that she should go by her own name, and people would just learn to pronounce her name eventually. i think it's sad when people feel the need to change like that.
anyway, sorry about dinner last night, hopefully we can all get together soon!

Omar said...

This is not a trend where I live.. although you do see arab boys with ear rings, and with pants have way down their legs.
I think the locals are so unfriendly that foreigners feel changing their names would help in eliminating some of the discrimination. I don't think it's a case of hating where they came from, or being ashamed of their names, at least I hope not..

Ihsan said...

Thanks guys for passing by...

I think the Arabs names are not as difficult as the Chinese or other Eastern Asian names, for example Hisham, Mazen and Samer are some of their names, and they are easy to pronounce even for a non native speaker! Yet, they have dropped them and picked up new one, or at least modified them.

As for avoiding discrimination, I will have to disagree on this, as the name does not hide one's origin, there is the accent and the color of the skin and other figures, and those cannot be hidden!

Besides, all the ones that I have met or known about in here, and whom I'm speaking about, are a first generation of immigrants or just students, not Canadian born.

Anonymous said...

Heyyyyy Ischan..lolz..have you had that version already? I hope not..that is the very German pronounciation :) Regarding your entry, I have studied my Master in Australia, where like 98% of the students come from abroad (fascinating..). From that, like 50% from China!! The rest from India, Middle East. When I had my first group project, I was stuck with one German, one American and 5 Chinese...ALL of the Chinese introducing themselves as "Lucy, Jenny, Kate" etc..VERY strange for me. When I asked them "no, I wanna know your real name" I harvested really curious looks!! But none of my Middle Eastern friends changed their names..Hisham, Tamir, Majd, Mohammed etc. I mean hey, its your name for crying out loud!! These people should know, that we WANT to know their real name! But they changed it from the beginning. And I still don't know why. When I asked why they do that, all I got as a reply was a smile and sorry, I still don't know! :) Please tell your friends, that it doesn't help to "integrate" to change your name..but just to be open, to talk with people, enjoy other people and just to be yourself! All the best in Canada!!

Pia said...

Ah, forgot to put my name, of course Mrs Know-it-all posted the comment on Chinese people in Australia! Be good, Pia