December 7, 2011

Yeah, Canada

Two stories:

My Polish tutoring client always goes to the same bank branch and speaks to the same teller. Why? Because this teller, an Anglo-Canadian, always remembers Mariusz. Every time, the teller tries to pronounce Mariusz's name better. "It's not easy," admits Mariusz, "for people... who live here." The teller tries his best, and laughs at his own failings.

Today a friendly man with a thick beard came into my ESL classroom to ask for a cup. He needed it to carry water to the Islamic centre in the building next door. "We're supposed to wash before we pray," he explained. Something was wrong with the taps next door. There was an extra Styrofoam cup next to the kettle, and I motioned to it. The kettle is used every day by the Chinese women in the class, who make tea, and also by the woman who came as a refugee from Kazakhstan. These lovely people appeared in my mind as the man walked for the cup. He offered to wash it and bring it back, but I waved away his concern.

Sometimes I hate on globalization, or, if not hate, wonder how on earth we put up with the shit of it. The living away from our "own" languages and cultures (however you want to define those), the constant need to mentally adjust and adapt to new situations or new people, the struggle. But there are good stories, too, of mutual effort, mutual appreciation, and acceptance.

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