“F-N-U” Russell Chun, HOPE Literacy’s instructor at the Ladera Palms site, quizzically looked at the letters his student had written on the paper. He had asked the class to write their names.
“I have never seen that name before,” he commented in a friendly way. “How do you pronounce that?” The woman giggled a little and then tried to explain that it wasn’t really a name at all. This resettled refugee woman had come from a culture where as a child she bore her father’s name. When she married, she took her husband’s name. As a female, in her home culture, she never received a name of her own.
FNU was what had been placed on her paperwork. It stood for First Name Unknown.
Russell explained to the woman that in America, she could have a name—one all for herself that celebrated her uniqueness and gave her an identity all her own.
HOPE Literacy seeks to minister holistically to the needs of immigrants, refugees and all those seeking to find their place in America. It involves not only language and literacy, but also the love of God which calls every FNU by name.