Oral History

My Name

My name is Keiselim Alfredo Montás Díaz, but I’ve gone by Keysi all my life. In fact, it wasn’t until the sixth grade that I discovered my name was Keiselim. When I was born my family did a little contest to see who was going to name me. My uncle was in Mexico at the time, studying agriculture at the UNAM, La Universidad Autónoma de México. He had a classmate who was from Germany. This classmate suggested the name Keyserling, which was the name of a count in Astonia, who was also a philosopher and the founder of this school of wisdom. But the name also means the kaiser of Germany and the ling of China – two emperors. They decided they were going to name me Keyserling. From Keyserling, I get Keysi, as a short format. All my life everyone called me Keysi and I told them my name was Keysi. When I needed to register for school in the sixth grade, I needed to get a birth certificate. When I looked at it I noticed it said Keyserling. I went to my dad and I said, “What’s going on over here? Who’s this?” My dad said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this. When I went to declare you the lady who took the birth declaration said to me, ‘Why do you people give your children such weird names?’” My dad said to her, “You know, that’s the name that I want. You just write it down.” He said he never looked at it again and that’s what she ended up writing.