Clarissa, the Swede

It turns out that students have been speculating about my place of origin. I mentioned from the start that I wasn’t a native speaker of Spanish in order to inspire them but said nothing beyond that.

“We think you are from Sweden! ” a student shared.
“No, I’m Ukrainian. “
“But you’ve got to be from Sweden! ” another student chimed in. “The name, the hair,  the eyes …”
“What about my last name? ” I asked. “It’s obviously Slavic. “
“We figured it was your husband’s name, ” students explained.
“No, it’s mine.”
“Why didn’t you take your husband’s last name? “
“I have 5 degrees and many publications under this name, I couldn’t give that up” I started to explain.
“It’s because you are somebody, ” one student said quietly.

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9 comments on “Clarissa, the Swede

  1. Wow! That’s a great story! I’m so glad that younger people are beginning to realize the problematics behind changing one’s last name. Was the student who commented “it’s because you are somebody” male or female? I’m just curious. (I hope you are enjoying your birthday weekend by the way!!!)

  2. “I have 5 degrees and many publications under this name, I couldn’t give that ip” I started to explain.
    “It’s because you are somebody, ” one student said quietly.

    Didn’t your students understand that a woman has to be A Somebody with “5 degrees and many publications under this name” not to change her family name? Most women (most people too) don’t achieve that.

  3. I actually had the same issue with my supervisor (who is also Ukrainian). His name is very slavic, but his accent sounds quite Scandinavian, so for a while I was mystified (I thought perhaps he was from some part of Finland close to Russia).

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