Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dual Citizenship

The other day one of my students wanted to know how to address me- Mrs. or Miss. I told her I prefer Ms., and anyway, that's what would be appropriate as I am married but I never changed my name. (And also, of course, because whether or not I'm married is not important in this context. And anyway, I told her to call me by my first name). She, being from Pakistan, was surprised by this, and asked if my husband minded, but my Mexican and Latin American students were not, as this is how we do it there. I also explained to my students that I had had my last name for a long time before I met my husband, and I wanted to keep it.
The next day, another class of students did presentations. My student from Chile choked up as she spoke of getting US citizenship in the next year or so, explaining that this meant she had to give up her citizenship in Chile, since they do not allow dual citizenship. "I will have to show a US passport, even when I travel to Chile," she cried. "I won't be Chilean anymore on paper, but I will be in my heart."*
So this made me think- keeping my name is like keeping my dual citizenship. I'm still part of my birth family, but now that I'm married, my husband and I have made a new family. A lot of women change their last names when they marry, and keep tied to their birth families in their hearts. While I may find that annoying when I'm trying to find old friends on Facebook, I think people should do what they are comfortable with. Therefore, I've chosen to keep my birth family ties more evident, and I'm still a full participant in my new family.
*I claim poetic license for all speech quotations.

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