So, first things first, my legal name is not Bunji. I was born in Kagoshima, Japan, on the south end of the island Kyushu. Originally, my mother wanted to give me the name Benjamin. However, I’ve been told “benjo” is Japanese slang for toilet, which must have been why I soon was born—”legally”—as Jason Shang McLeod.
That name didn’t last long. In the operating room, my dad mentioned that the umbilical cord for a baby is like a bungee cord with a little human attached to the end. My mom didn’t think it was as funny as he did, but I quickly became baby Bunji—much like the name Benji (i.e. Benjamin), but with a little extra spring of uniqueness in it. It has no meaning in Japanese, no cultural rooting in my Taiwanese ethnicity, and no daredevil bungee jump that deemed me worthy of such a nickname. It’s simply my name now.
Three years after jumping into this world, I moved to Bellingham, Wash., where I lived underneath the smells of damp shade and never-ending greenery. There, I took two classes with a high school teacher who has shaped my college experience more than any other: Mr. Doud. The local legend of a physics teacher could inspire us to tackle any mathematical challenge with passionate fervor, using only a pen, whiteboard and cheesy one-liners developed over decades of classes. Because of him, I am here now in Spokane going into my fourth year of mechanical engineering and working at McKinstry.[Read more…]