So on Monday, all of the teachers & school staff were sitting around a table in the kitchen...them chattering away in Chinese while I smiled & nodded. Then the principal cleared his throat, & I knew what was coming, "Teacher Saph-een. Do you find Chinese name yet? We ready to hear it." That phase is worn out from all the repetitions & this time was no different than the rest. I did not have a Chinese name. But instead of watching my principal's face fall & hear all the old ladies cluck their displeasure, I made a rash decision...to make up my own Chinese name.
I got up & scrambled over to my school bag, pulling out my Chinese-English dictionary. Since my name is similar to Saffron - a yellow flower, I thought, "Yellow flower sounds pretty good." And proceeded to tell those lounging around the table. I did not receive the desired effect, not at all. Several murmurs of displeasure & grunts were heard from my audience & the principal said, "Very interesting....but not very good name. I give to you better name." to which I replied, "Oh thank you! But I really like it; it has a special meaning to me." (Not to mention that the several previous times he tried to name me, they were quite complex names that would take me years to master...) He kind of left it at that & went on my merry way, not realizing what I had done.
Until tonight that is. Tonight we had several of our teachers over for a Bible study/English lesson & dinner. Two of them, Vivian & Becca teach at one of my schools. Somehow the topic of Chinese names came up, & they asked me (just like everyone else) if I had a Chinese name. I was quite excited to tell them that, yes I do have one, it's Yellow Flower. Everything went quiet for a second & then the ladies busted up laughing. They demanded to know who had named me, & I explained that I named myself, more laughter ensued. Then they proceeded to tell me that yellow is the color of "sexuality" in Taiwan, & that if I thought that was bad then being named flower was 10 times worse. Without knowing it, I put together the two most...promiscuous & shifty names in the Chinese language & proudly shared them with the staff at my Monday school.
Needless to say, I'm looking for a new Chinese name!