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My Eikaiwa boss... 2008/4/8 00:51
My Eikaiwa boss recently told me (through one of the other teachers) that she wants me to change my name while I'm at work. The name I normally use is Japanese (it's my given name) and I received it after my grandmother who changed her name during WWII. She also had to endure American concentration camps, a husband enlisted in the 442nd infantry who received a purple heart while serving in Europe, and general prejudice. It's a really important part of my identity to me as it represents my grandma's and also America's history.
My boss wants me to use my middle name, which is Western. But there's two problems: I won't really respond to it and it's simply not who I am. She told me that the parents always ask why a Japanese person is teaching their kids English... why can't she just tell them I was born and raised in America? I tried telling her once before but it was an inconclusive result. How can I tell her that I want to keep my name at work?
by Miyuki  

Name change 2008/4/8 09:41

That sucks... I agree entirely that it would be far more sensible to explain your background as a native English speaker to the students and concerned parents rather than pathetically trying to cover up one's true identity.

I can't offer advice on your legal position if you refuse to change your name, but I would recommend posting your question to Arudo Debito's group on Yahoo both for advice and to let them know about the issue.

Good luck!
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Japanese American 2008/4/8 10:08

I'm Japanese American teaching English in Japan. I use my English name because it's my first name, but sometimes I use my middle because it's Japanese and it's fun for me to use, expecially with kids. I don't mind using either of them.

I think you have to keep in mind teaching English is a big business in Japan. People want native speakers, so maybe your boss is trying to advertise your classes and wants to use your English name. I see nothing wrong with that if will bring in more students for them.
by Kiyoshi rate this post as useful

Walking History 2008/4/8 12:02
Your name is who you are.

That's bullcrap. Your Grandparents were proud of their Japanese heritage in America during WWII so why can't you be proud of being Japanese here in your native land.

Most Japanese think that all Americans are Blond haired and blue eyed but when I tell them that they look American they can't accept it.

You are history. That is a great conversation point too. I think that many students would be curious to here about your family's story.

Stand strong and tell your boss you are proud of who you are.
by Jupiter Rising rate this post as useful

to kiyoshi 2008/4/8 14:00
I understand where you're coming from... but the money isn't important. I still have over 10 individual lessons at that school and all the kids there already know me by my Japanese name. They accept it because they know I'm a fluent English speaker. At first they might be shocked to learn it, but they get over it. It's the parents who have the most problems.

My two sisters actually have Western first names and Japanese middle names. My older sister has my grandma's last name as her middle name (before she married my grandpa) and my younger sister has a middle name that my older sister gave her.

I guess me simply growing up with a Japanese name made me feel more special and unique while in America. So I can't just drop it and call myself by my middle name.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

i should add 2008/4/8 14:10
The people I'm working for are actually Korean. They were born in Korea and then moved to Japan to live for various reasons. Even the students are Korean.

All the other teachers are also Korean and they changed their names to an English name of their choice while at work. She told me that since they changed their names, I should do the same and it doesn't matter for me to be someone else. But I'm not a native Korean or a native Japanese!
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

Well... 2008/4/8 14:28
I am Japanese who works for Eikaiwa school. All of us have Western nick name for some reasons.

Isn't it possible to make Nickname which sounds Western(or something doesn't sound Japanese) from your name
only at work?

I can understand how you feel but it is very important to have parents satisfied with teachers/classes
since if they don't like teachers/classes they can easily shift to other eikaiwa schools.

And this is probably not right, but it is true that some Korean have negative impression on Japanese;
There are some people who have different background, and I think it is important to follow them,
like "When you are in Rome, do as the Roman's do".

Or you could look for other eikaiwa schools. I might sound too strict, but I suppose most of eikaiwa school needs English speaking professional teacher and not "you".
by Renee rate this post as useful

. 2008/4/8 14:36
There is one aspect of learning a new language... it is also learning a new culture. Tough luck, but America isn't just a bunch of "Sallys" "James" "Johns" and "Marys". I am who I am. Shouldn't me being a fluent, American speaker be enough of an explanation to the parents? The kids don't mind at all. And my other Eikaiwa boss (at another place) doesn't care either and nor do those parents (who are mostly Japanese).

I admit, I am not a professional teacher. But if they wanted a professional teacher, they wouldn't be hiring college exchange students for the past three years.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

... 2008/4/8 14:43
If they are really inflexible about this issue then I would consider quietly looking for other work. Problems at this level don't bode well for how management will handle future, more significant issues. How is your working environment otherwise?
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Well, 2008/4/8 15:01
I'm not sure. Probably this is because I am Japanese or just different.
I love my name very much but I don't mind using other name because name is just a name, and I always wear a social mask as a teacher when I teach. The different name is just a "key" to be a teacher. Name is name, which is just a part of me.
What name I call myself or others call me, I am what I am and name doesn't influence me at all.

Probably it is difficult for them to understand how much you love your name and how difficult to use your widdle name at work,
like, you don't understand how difficult to explain why you have Japanese name and have the Korean parents understand.

I agree that they explain it to the parents and they understand, but probably it didn't work. And then they asked/told you to change your names at work, which hasv't worked either.

If you cannot stand it, I recommend looking for other work which you can be what you are.
I am sure other Eikaiwa school boss will understand for sure.
by Renee rate this post as useful

Let me add 2008/4/8 15:07
I have a question; probably you won't be an actoress or actor, but is it very dicciult to play a role of their ideal teacher by Western name?

I think this is what the Korean bosses expect you to do.

And since we don't have middle name, they probably cannot tell the difference of middle name and first name.
To them, both of them are name.
by Renee rate this post as useful

Do the right thing 2008/4/8 15:24
If money is not the question, then what is? If I were to teach English, it would be for the sole reason of teaching people what it's like to learn about a different culture, because language is the basis of culture.

If I were you, I would just say to the boss that this is a great opportunity to educate the parents about how names work in your home country, because millions of people graduate language schools with fluent language skills and still don't know how to deal with those of different backgrounds.

As mentioned, go ahead and educate your students first, because I'm sure they already have built a better bond between you and you can leave it to them to educate their parents. And if that can't be accepted, as suggested, they can go ahead and fire you.

But I am assuming that the boss is having a hard time maintaining her business and keeping up with collecting enough to pay your wages. I think it's up to you to decide whether you want to cooperate to the organization the simple way, or to educate the people the complicated way.

Anyway, the boss is practically saying, "Since we Korean residents, who are usually the most picky ones when it comes to identity and racial problems, are surrendering our names, I can expect the same from you." and the parents are not actually "wondering" about your name, but they are "questioning" your name. And for the former, fighting this in a anti-racism matter won't really work, I think.
by Uco rate this post as useful

P.S. 2008/4/8 15:27
Sorry, forgot to add.

A compromise would be to change your name in one condition that they let you teach your students about the true background of your names.
by Uco rate this post as useful

... 2008/4/8 15:32
I understand, Renee, that among Japanese (teachers and students) in Japan teaching/learning the English language, there may be a bit of "pretend I'm in an English-speaking country" element of fun when you give yourselves some nick names in classes. That's a bit of "trigger" or "key," as you call it, to encourage the students to jump into speaking a language not their own. When I was learning Spanish in the US, the American teacher gave each of us Spanish name "to get us in the mood" for speaking Spanish :)

As far as that is considered fun, that's OK.

But here the point is that Miyuki WANTS to use her first name, does NOT want to use the other name she does not feel her own. And the boss does not want her first name used because of some comments from some of the parents (not the students), and only because she does not do as other teachers do. No actress should be forced into playing a role or assuming a name that she does not want to, right? The role of an ideal teacher is nothing that is realized merely by changing the name to a more perceived-to-be-western name. Miyuki IS a name that has been given, in this case, to an American. So it is an American name that exists in reality. So what's wrong with that?

Miyuki, since this matters a great deal to you, if the school is inflexible about it, I guess it might be better to do as yllwsmrf has suggested :)
by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

To AK, 2008/4/8 15:47
Yes I understand Miyuki wants to use her name. And I guess she wants to work for the Korean boss.

I am not sure how seriously the Korean boss expect her to use her middle name, but from what I read,
I got an impression that she really means.

You are a Japanese then probably you understand, you cannot deny what your boss says in Japanese culture -
even if you are not lucky.
There are many (stupid) bosses who don't like employees who don't follow their order.

If she would like to work in the same company, then she should simply follow her boss, or educate them like Uco and you said, or just leave there. To educate them will have a risk to be fired(in my opinion), so if Miyuki's priority is get money to live(probably not?),
I recommend using middle name. Just merit and demerit things.
by Renee rate this post as useful

what's in a name 2008/4/8 16:53
Miyuki SHOULD KEEP HER NAME.even if you have to loose your job. I did that a few times whenever a work place was nasty, even when I didn't have many savings. Miyuki you must be true to yourself. I am an immigrant myself (from Europe to North America)and when I looked for a job in the beginning some employers told me at the interview that I should change my "funny name" to an English one. I refused, not because I am crazy about my first name, but because it meant that the employers were culturally insensitive if not racists, and their work place wouldn't be a healthy one. I have noticed since then that "nice" people had no problem pronouncing my long foreign first name and had no problems about my foreignness either. Where I work, most of the staff, managers included, are "foreigners". Some names are hard to pronounce but we all have learned how to, and have also learned about all our cultures. One of the newest colleague is Korean. He changed his first name to an English one "to fit in" but really he doesn't, anymore than I and all the others, who kept our names, do but we didn't compromise. The road of hell is paved with compromises.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

It's all about the bottom line... 2008/4/8 19:27
money. If you can convince your boss that using your Japanese name has an advantage for their business, I'm sure he will be more than happy to let you use it.
by Rob rate this post as useful

thanks! 2008/4/8 19:49
to everyone with their support and opinions. this topic has only come up once, but if they bring it up again, I will try and explain again why I should keep my name.
to yllwsmurf about other conditions... They have a tendency to just drop students on me and expect me to teach them without being able to meet and talk with the student or parent first. They also seem to believe that I'm free for them only so of course I have the time to teach them.
Also, recently I've been working more hours than usual, but when I checked my bank account for the money they sent me, the amount was the same as last month's.
The most ironic part of it must be my boss, who is Korean. She also owns a music school. But she can't speak English well. just Korean and Japanese.
I have been thinking about leaving, but her school pays me the most and is just enough to pay my rent.
by Miyuki rate this post as useful

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