Three years ago, I started hosting a University of Florida Chinese visiting scholar, ChenPengHui, and his lovely young wife, WenXia. They came to my home every Saturday afternoon for conversation in English. Sitting on the floor around my coffee table, they referred to their laptops for translation.
We discussed whatever topic happened to arise. There was much excitement and laughter. My son, Eric, was usually there, as well as Pat Spencer, a foreign student coordinator, who had matched me with this couple. It was very casual and relaxed, and they soon became like part of my family. For two years now they have been back in Hangzhou, China, and we stay in touch by WeChat and by e-mail.
WenXia and Peng recently welcomed their second child and asked me to give him an English name. His Chinese name is Shi. After careful thought, I sent a list of four names (Adam, Luke, Noah, and Zach) from which they could choose. They chose Noah, which I had told them was my preference. What a privilege it is for me to name a Chinese baby!
Noah has an older sister, to whom I also gave an English name, Cici. At age four, she stayed behind in China with her grandmother while WenXia and Peng spent their year here in Gainesville. On entering preschool in China, where she studied English, she needed an English name. When her parents requested my help, I offered Lily, Cici, and April from which to choose. They made a good choice. Cici is six or seven years old now. I have never met her in person, but she WeChats with me in English. Soon, Noah will also be calling me Grandma Pattie via WeChat, like his big sister. Peng hopes to return to America for another year as a visiting scholar and bring their family of four this time. I hope for that as well.
Let’s all welcome Noah who is less than a month old. He is precious and adorable just like his big sister, Cici. I am proud to be their “Grandma Pattie,” and proud to have had a part in choosing their English names.