Today was the first day of class, Dr. Zhou asked us to stand up and introduce ourselves. Immediately my mind started to race as I formulated a speech that would be easy to deliver and easy for the Chinese students to understand. I waited for my turn, which made me more nervous, then podium.
I started by saying “Nin hao”, which is hello in Chinese, and everything else was in English. I stated my name, my age, my major, and my ultimate aspiration in life. I then went on to say how I look forward to sharing this classroom with them and encouraged them to take it a step further by talking to us outside the classroom to help our time here more enjoyable. Leslie, one of the Chinese journalism students who had introduced herself before me, raised her hand and asked if I was related to “The Kennedy Family”.
This was a question I was not prepared for because in America it is a common understanding that several blacks adopted their slave masters name. No matter how common I thought this history was I was now faced with answering this question. I felt a lump in my throat and a big nervous grim across my face as I stood before the class and told them I don’t know where my last name comes from because my people where owned and along with many other things we lost our true identity and heritage. Leslie said sorry as if she took part in this, and I replied its okay.
She had no idea she forced me to think of think of things and feel emotions I have tried to suppress. As I took my seat my professor tried to bundle the topic up into one small summary by saying something to the effect of America having a shameful past. Just like that we were onto the next person and their introduction, but the idea lingered on in my head.Professor Zhou gave us an assignment to partner up research each other then find something newsworthy to write about. Leslie picked me.