Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow. Just wow.”?

This year I did something I never thought I’d do: I joined a sorority. I know when most people think of sororities they think of a group of girls who all look and act the same. But I am proud to be part of a sorority that isn’t like that.

blessing

One of my best friends in my sisterhood is a young woman named Blessing Akinwale. Blessing was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States less than six years ago. But I didn’t realize some of the struggles she had to go through were much more basic than adjusting to a new school, country and culture. When I asked her about it, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was her name.

I think Blessing is a good name but I wondered if it was her only name. Most international and exchange students I have met have two names: their actual name and an “English” name, because us Americans don’t take the time to learn how to pronounce things properly. The more I thought about it the more it bothered me. When people come to our country, instead of making an effort and going out of our way to accept them and make them welcome, we immediately westernize them. When I was younger I went by Maggie instead of Margaret. But, when I was ten, I decided to go by my full name instead and people accepted that. They made an effort to change what they called me, just as I made an effort to change what I responded to.

In Blessing’s case, she already went by her English name before she moved here. I asked her if she ever thought of going by her Nigerian name; she told me that it bothered her when people didn’t pronounce it correctly. Think how great a place this would be if we all put forth a little more effort to accept each other. I eventually asked Blessing what her Nigerian name is. She told me she has two: Oluwadamilola and Tejumola. I think they are completely beautiful.

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