I was born as Peter Te-young Cha on August 19, 1997 in Los Angeles, CA. I was named Peter because I have an older brother named Andrew, and Peter and Andrew were brothers in the Bible. It’s no surprise that I have a Christian first name. My dad and his side of the family first came to America in 1969 because my grandpa was sponsored to move from Seoul to Chicago as a Methodist minister. Christianity is a major reason my family is in America in the first place. At some point, my grandpa took the name Peter as his English name, so I actually am technically Peter Cha II. I see my first name as a marker of my family’s Christian background and immigration to English-speaking America. Peter is the name I usually give to people upon first meeting them, just as it was the first name given to me.
My Korean name is Cha Te-young, or 차태영. I am not really sure about the history of my family name, Cha (차). I have heard that all Chas are related, that we all are part of the same clan. I’ll just say a couple things that make me like the name Cha. One thing is that I like how Cha is pronounced basically the same in both English and Korean. While Kim and Park are pronounced more like gheem and bahk, Cha is Cha. I also like that my family name is relatively uncommon even among Koreans, somehow it makes me feel special or something 🙂
Te-young (태영) means something like “great glory” when written in hanja, the Korean name for Chinese characters. I don’t really know much about it, but I think great glory is a nice meaning…hopefully I live up to it. The young (영) syllable of my name I share with my siblings and almost all of my cousins on my dad’s side. I am Te-young, my brother Se-young, my sister Young-ae, and my cousins Jae-young, Won-young, and Shin-young. Our names are something that ties us all together, our shared family name (Cha) and generation name (Young). As I become better at Korean and go to Korea more often, I find myself using this name more and more. I do love my Korean name, it is a marker of my Korean heritage that I will carry with me wherever I go.
I have also had a lot of nicknames over my life. Many of my college friends know me as “peach” or “pch”. At home I go by “pidge”. I like nicknames because they are names that I have received during my lifetime. The names my friends give me feel more personal, catered to who I am. If Te-young and Cha represent my Korean heritage and Peter represents my American and Christian background, then maybe pch represents Peter Te-young Cha as I am now. Whatever I go by, I try to remember where my names come from and the people behind them. So thank you to my parents, my siblings, and my friends for caring enough to give me these special names.
By Peter Cha, PO ’19