To me, most names reflect parents’ dreams. A mother would like her daughter to grow into a beauty. Then “Mei” (美) is given as the name. A father who wishes his son to have a peaceful life is likely to put the character “Ping” (平) in the name. Now, take me for example.
My family name is “Zhang” (张) and my given name “Fan” （帆）, put together, meaning to hoist the sail and get ready to sail. Why? Because of my father, of course! He was a geography teacher. His passion is outdoor activities like fishing and motorcycling, collecting rocks, but most of all, traveling. In the 1980s, when every Chinese family was saving hard in order to buy a color TV, a refrigerator, or other fancy electric appliances, my father announced his ambition. He was going to travel around China, with all our savings, with my whole family: my mother, my younger brother and I. So during the summer vacation of 1985, we traveled across 8 provinces north of the Yellow River. We went to many historical cities and visited many scenic spots. It was a hard trip, because we tried every means to save money. We boarded night trains, so we could save hotel fees; we ate simple food; we bought few souvenirs, thinking photos would be the best token of memory. But the overwhelming feeling about that trip is wondrous. It was eye-opening and soul enriching.
This story roughly indicates how devoted my father was to traveling. Later on, after he retired, he and my mother traveled all over China, except Taiwan. Was he satisfied? No, because he always dreamed to sail across the ocean to a foreign land. The year when I was born, China was a poor country. My family was just getting by. How did he dare dream of traveling across the ocean to a mysteriously enchanting foreign country? So he named me “hoisting the sail”. Two years later my brother was born and got the name “Yuanhang” (远航), meaning “sailing far, far away”. He wished my brother and I could help him achieve his dream vicariously by traveling far away to see the world that he could not see.
Now both my brother and I had the experience of traveling abroad. I have been to 10 European countries and spent a whole summer attending a teachers’ training program at Arizona State University followed by half a month traveling both east and west coasts of America. I plan to travel with my husband after we retire. The magical thing is, my daughter, from a very young age, nourished the same dream to see the world across the ocean. Now she is studying in the US. As for my father, he went to some Southeast Asian countries several years ago with my mother. And he went to East Africa alone to see the great animal migration in a hot air balloon and in a safari vehicle. He has been to Dubai, spending a night at Atlantis and had a dinner in the world famous Burj Al-Arab Hotel. This year he and my mother spent two weeks in Europe. His next destination is Canada where an old friend of his immigrated to live with his son. It’s all a dream come true.
Whenever I see the word ocean, I think of my name and my father’s dream. An ever-growing passion to reach out drives me far forward. I believe I am just one of the many Chinese who draw special power from their names.Share...