I subbed today for a 10th grade English teacher.
Being in different schools every day, I see a lot of different students every week. Naturally, this also means that I encounter a lot of different names. I think I've mentioned this before, but apparently it is popular to make up your own variation of common names. I think I've gotten pretty good at sleuthing out how names are "supposed" to be pronounced; more than once I've had students tell me that "no other sub has ever gotten my name right." The exception to this, however, comes with foreign exchange students. I don't usually have too much trouble with kids from Spanish speaking countries, because there is a large Spanish speaking population around many of the schools I work in. Today, though, I had two girls from an Asian country. When I got to their names on the roll call list I paused for a second, tried out the names a few times in my head, then simply apologized to them that any attempt I might make would just slaughter their names.
At this point I was going to just continue down the list, when a couple girls they'd been talking to before class blurted out, "yeah! How DO you say your names, anyway?" They then turned to each other and said, "Isn't it something like, 'ching-chang-chong?'" The two exchange students didn't seem to catch on to the blatant racism, and started to just slowly pronounce their names for the other two girls. I squelched the whole conversation and just continued on with taking roll.
I convinced a group of students that I'd never heard of YouTube. Instead of being shocked and horrified, as I'd hoped, they just gave each other a look, as if to say, "oh, he's old, of course he's never heard of it" and then went on to describe the site. I was a little insulted.