Local 16-year-old gives TED Talk about mangling people's names

TED Talk inspires others to say names the right way
Suhawni Narang 2.jpg
Posted at 2:24 PM, Dec 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 10:09:14-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Ray High School junior Suhawni Narang is passionate about debate, which is probably why she's great at it.

She has placed sixth at the Harvard International Debate championships, and represented the Gulf Coast Region in nationals the last three years.

To Suhawni, words matter: Especially the words that make up a name.

"You know, my name is Suhawni, and it'd go from like 'tunami, sheamee, sashimi,' " she said. "My name has been butchered since I could talk."

The 16-year-old was approached to turn the speech she created, about pronouncing a person's name the right way, into a TED Talk.

"(My name) means a lot to me and it's also a part of my heritage," she said. "I'm Indian. So this is the year I started caring and I'm actively making an effort, like when people say my name wrong, I'm like 'It's Suhawni.' "

And her message is resonating not just here at home — her TED Talk is getting likes and has been viewed hundreds of times.

"Names are a central part of your identity," she said. "They are given to you by people who matter to you, like your mom and your dad. Sometimes they have meaning, like 'Suhawni' means 'charming.' "

Suhawni hopes her TED Talk keeps getting shared and liked, and inspires people to not mangle names.

"Like, there's not an expectation that the first time you read my name you need to know it," she said. "There's just the expectation that you ask or you try."

To see a schedule of upcoming TED Talks taking place at Cole Park, click here.