The issue with having a foreign name

Other | Monday 13th February 2017 | Annoush

Shout out to all the people who have ever had their name butchered at graduation.

Lets start from the beginning, you may have noticed my name is a little odd and very “un-western” this is because my first name is Armenian and my surname is Russian, I know interesting mix. I have a long complex history with my name, firstly I don’t even pronounce my name the ‘proper’ Armenian way, I say it the easier more ‘western’ way, and secondly only family call me by my full name, so even my name here is an abbreviation.

I remember doing my SATs in primary school and having to ask my teacher how to spell my surname, because it was to long and difficult for me to remember. When we were kids I'm sure we all wanted the necklace or headband that had our name on it, but alas they never made anything with our names on it.

Who else has had the endless struggle of teachers just not being able to say their name for years? (to be fair this might be because I live in the least diverse London borough). To this day if someone is calling out a list of names, mine will be the one with the long pause before it. To me it is not a difficult name to say, it is literally pronounced the way it’s spelt, it’s not rocket science people!! But apparently it is too hard for people to pronounce my name correctly at graduation.

The worst thing is when people try to correct my pronunciation of my own name as if I haven’t had it for over 20 years, “oh so you mean like Anoshka?” (which is a more western accepted name). Or people miss-hear my name and I get Manoosh… yeah I don’t get that either. If I tell you what my name is accept it, learn it, I have had it for 22 years so I think by now I would say it correctly.  

But one of worst things about having a foreign sounding name (and please let me know if this happens to you) is that you have a much harder time getting hired then most other people. I have applied for the same job twice before, once with my real name and once with my “Starbucks name” and ‘Anna’ got a lot more replies. I have even spoken to people who have been in charge of hiring and they have said that their boss told them to put all the foreign names to the side, as “they probably don’t speak good English.” Thankfully the girl bought up that a lot of British people do in fact have non English names, but just think, this is the 2017 we are now living in.

We shouldn’t have to change our names on our CVs or job applications, and yet here we are using our Starbucks names to make life easier for everyone else. 

But on the positive note we do have unique and interesting names that start conversations, and that make people remember us for the bright and incredible people that we are.