2022 College Podcast Challenge winner considers her Chinese identity : NPR


4 years into her life within the U.S., Aria Younger has realized she needs extra steadiness between the 2 halves of herself — Yáng Qìn Yuè of Shanghai and Aria Younger of New York Metropolis.

Mohamed Sadek for NPR

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Mohamed Sadek for NPR

4 years into her life within the U.S., Aria Younger has realized she needs extra steadiness between the 2 halves of herself — Yáng Qìn Yuè of Shanghai and Aria Younger of New York Metropolis.

Mohamed Sadek for NPR

This story first appeared in NPR’s Scholar Podcast Problem publication. Sign up here. Aria Younger did not turn into Aria Younger till she was 16 years previous. She was transferring to Lancaster, Pa., from her residence in Shanghai for highschool. Her Chinese language identify, 杨沁悦, or Yáng Qìn Yuè, was “too arduous for the English tongue to pronounce,” Younger explains in “What’s in a Name,” her entry for NPR’s College Podcast Challenge. Judges chosen Younger’s audio story because the grand-prize winner from 10 finalists. Within the podcast, Younger, now a sophomore at New York College, tries to educate her English-speaking pals via saying her Chinese language identify appropriately. It would not go properly. “Think about doing that on the primary day of college in entrance of a classroom of individuals, or at a celebration correcting each individual you meet as a result of they simply cannot get it proper,” Younger says in her podcast.

She knew it might be simpler to make a house for herself within the U.S. if folks might say her identify.

It takes greater than a brand new identify to really feel you belong

Taking an English identify is just not an unusual apply amongst Asian worldwide college students. As one in every of Younger’s previous highschool academics explains within the podcast, “The [international] college students from Spain and the scholars from Italy saved their names. The scholars from Asia didn’t maintain their names. There might need been possibly one scholar within the 5 years I used to be there who saved their Chinese language identify. Everyone had an American identify.” After hours wanting via lists of child names, Younger settled on Aria as a result of it mirrored her hopes for her new life in the US.

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“It is a musical time period. [An aria] is sort of a track,” she tells NPR. “It is nearly like my new life goes to be melodic.” However altering her identify did not essentially imply she slot in at her new Catholic highschool in the course of Pennsylvania Dutch Nation. “Being Asian was probably not accepted or appreciated,” she explains. Younger says she and different Asian worldwide college students confronted microaggressions and racism at their new faculty.

I rejected my identify. Rejected Yáng Qìn Yuè. Rejected my Asianness, as a result of I felt like that was all I used to be.

Aria Younger

“Folks would come as much as us and ask us if we eat canine,” she remembers. “Folks would come as much as me and ask questions on, you recognize, ‘What’s it like being Asian?’ As in the event that they’ve by no means seen an Asian individual earlier than.” Nonetheless, she was decided to belong, and an enormous a part of that meant assimilating into American tradition. “I rejected my identify. Rejected Yáng Qìn Yuè. Rejected my Asianness, as a result of I felt like that was all I used to be,” Younger says in her podcast. 4 years into her life within the U.S., Younger has realized she needs extra steadiness between the 2 halves of herself — Yáng Qìn Yuè from Shanghai and Aria of New York Metropolis. She’s grappling with the way to honor her Chinese language id whereas persevering with to construct a life for herself in the US. She says that is why she made “What’s in a Name.”

A reputation to mirror the place she’s going and the place she has been

In her podcast, which Younger recorded at her school radio station, she tells the story behind her given identify: Her dad and mom used the Chinese language characters for “water” and “coronary heart” in hopes that she could be “light, pure and nurturing like water,” in addition to have “a courageous and sort coronary heart.”

Younger recorded her profitable podcast at WNYU, her school radio station, the place she has her personal radio present.

Sequoia Carrillo/NPR

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Sequoia Carrillo/NPR

Younger recorded her profitable podcast at WNYU, her school radio station, the place she has her personal radio present.

Sequoia Carrillo/NPR

For a very long time, her Americanized identify, Aria, did not really feel as significant to her. However now, she says, “this life within the States — that is essential to me. And these folks know me as Aria. So this identify has that means to me as a result of there are folks I care about right here that know me as this identify.”

She looks like her Americanized identify is a bit of herself that she has energy over — it is a means for her to form the individual she needs to be.

I selected this identify on my own, for myself. And that is the individual I made myself to be. In a means, I feel it is liberating.

Aria Younger

“I selected this identify on my own, for myself. And that is the individual I made myself to be,” she says. “In a means, I feel it is liberating.” As she continues to seek out her footing within the U.S., her previous identify feels additional and additional away. However her final identify, Younger, would not really feel fairly proper anymore. “That is me as my dad and mom’ daughter. Not simply my mother’s daughter but additionally my dad’s daughter, and that sort of bothers me a bit bit,” she confesses. Younger says that her relationship together with her dad is strained and that she was primarily raised by “two very, very sturdy and resilient ladies” — her mother and her grandmother. She needs to take her mom’s maiden identify, Xu, as a approach to honor her mother’s function in her life.

It is yet one more step towards constructing a house for herself within the U.S. whereas nonetheless paying tribute to the place she got here from.



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