Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).
I am going to continue sharing my views of the Canadian culture from the perspective of an outsider who is presently permitted the status of a permanent resident but soon is to be sworn into full citizenship of the nation of Canada.
Last month I spoke about the kindness I found embedded in the culture of Canada. This month I will talk about how I was the beneficiary of some of this cultural kindness as I first came to Canada.
My first experience with the Canadian culture was in Calgary, Alberta. I had naively asked to get work in a public school for extremely disabled children. The vice-principal of the school told me that the market for teachers was very, very good in Canada but that I needed to get a Master Teacher degree from the University of Calgary before I could be a teacher. So, after volunteering at the school for a couple of months, I attended an introductory meeting held at the University of Calgary regarding the Master Teacher degree to see if I was qualified to take the program.
The short story is that I attended the meeting, I applied for acceptance, I was accepted into the program, I took courses for two years, and, in 2010, I graduated from the program. During a break in the introductory program, I remember walking with one of the teachers. As we walked, I looked down and saw a penny on the floor. As I reached down for it, the teacher said it was a sure sign of good luck. When I later learned that I had been accepted to the program, I was sure that Canada was to be a lucky place for me.
In this program I learned to teach from the Canadian view, I received aid in the form of a bursary, and I met some Canadian teachers who still represent my idea of the Chinese notion of junzi, the true “teacher.”
Maybe just as important, during the multiple practicums offered in the program, I learned of the diverse and immigrant nature of Calgary’s population. Especially hard to believe was the number of Chinese and Indian children in my practicums. In one of my practicum classes, there were 13 students in the class with 8 being from East Asia and South Asia. As these were children, it is clear that East and South Asians will be important influences in the Canadian culture of the future.
Before I realized it, two years had passed and my degree had been achieved. At that time, there were still many teaching jobs but for some reasons, I decided to apply to the Ph.D. program of OISE at the University of Toronto. I truly did not know it was the largest university in Canada and I was shocked to learn that it was ranked 20th in world universities. But bigger shocks were coming. As I rushed to leave Calgary and make a visit to my family, I was just barely able to get my University of Toronto application placed in the mail. I had almost forgotten the application when later in the summer I received notice of my acceptance. I could not believe it. I was now a Ph.D. candidate in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto!
The idea was just sinking into me when I looked further at some confusing dollar numbers that were included in my notice of acceptance. Somehow, I had not only been accepted into the program, I had been granted a scholarship and graduate assistantship by the people of Ontario that would allow me to pay my expenses for tuition as well as for living! It was to be the beginning of another long stage in my life and I beamed bright with thanksgiving to my God and to the kindness of the people of Ontario. It seemed clear that my God had prepared my way.
Next month I will talk about my perspectives during this new stage of my life in Toronto, Canada.