♥ Stay true to who you are!

Dear Friend,

As part of CELBANPrep Writing I ask people to submit short pieces of writing, during the tutoring, so that I can identify errors people make, so that together we can turn weaknesses into strengths. Some people write compare and contrasts in preparation for CELBAN Speaking. The following piece was so powerful, I had to share it.

We can define neighbours as, the one who lives next to your home. In India a neighbourhood plays a beneficial role in the lives of people but in Canada there is little difference. In Canada we have neighbours but they do not have much effect on  each others lives.

           In India, whether it is  happiness or sadness neighbours  are the first person who get involved into the occasion even before relatives. In Canada, no one knows what is happening next door. They do not get involve into others lives. Furthermore, by getting together people  share there feeling on different issues. They also share food, which they prepare at home with others. But here, people have no time to share anything neither feeling nor food. Moreover, they can  (neighbour) use each others personal vehicles also, but in case of Canada, we can not use others vehicle.
            People residing in India are emotionally attached with each other. Even their children sleeps at neighbours home. They are kind- hearted, here also people are kind hearted. But they have less time to get involve with others.
Dear R,
This was a very difficult piece to read, yet I am so grateful to you for your honesty. The problem for me is that it is so very true. I came from a community of people who are very much like how you described people in India. I felt so loved and cared for. I loved the feeling of connection and support. My neighbours were my family. I was happy to live in this neighbourhood. Then they all moved, and others moved in. These people were more typical of Canadians: to busy and too private.

Yesterday I was talking with my daughter.  I asked her “What is it that bothers us about those who are living in our community.” We created a list. Then I asked her, “Can people say this about us?” Sadly the answer was, “Yes.”

We talked about how we had changed: we had stopped delivering cookies to neighbours. We had stopped inviting people over for dinner because so many people had said no, they were too busy. Although we are the ones to initiate the block party, which everyone loves to attend, we did not hold it last year. We were too busy.

In speaking with a friend from Mexico, she shared a similar story. In Mexico people are very affectionate and welcoming with big hugs when people meet. In Canada people reserve these hugs for close family and very close friends, but in Mexico everyone greets everyone this way. My friend told me how she felt rejected when she would go to hug a Canadian and they would either move away or give a polite hug in return. No one would approach her with a hug. She got really sad. One day, in speaking with her husband, she realized that regardless of how people responded, she would continue to be who she was: she would continue to be friendly, welcoming and gracious.

Hearing her story helped me, encouraged me, motivated me.

This weekend my daughter and I were planning our summer, as we often plan at the beginning of a month. We created a list of what we could do to be better neighbours. She was already making cookies, and quickly decided who she would give them to. She also thought of people who had younger children that she could take to the park. I thought of people who we just met that we could invite to dinner, and an elderly couple who are vegetarians for whom we could make and deliver dinner to. Then we decided on a block party. The last two years it was difficult to plan because of people fasting for Ramadan. This year with our early planning, we can have our block party before Ramadan! By adding these events to our calendar we were making sure that our ideas became a reality.

We live in a complex. We invite everyone to the block party, but not everyone comes; that does not matter. What matters is that people feel included. Those who come bring some food to share, we meet new people who have moved in, and make new friends. One year we had the kids present a play, the next year we had a penny carnival. Another year we had people vote for the best neighbour, with different categories. Then we gave out prizes at the event.

The City of Edmonton has a wonderful page on holding a Block Party. (It looks like a lot of work but really it is about choosing a date and location and telling everyone. Having a potluck where everyone brings something makes it much easier.) Some community leagues will even reimburse a certain amount of money if you hold a block party.

At the end of the day, R, people are busy. They are so very busy. Despite their busy-ness I have learned that I need to stay true to who I am. I don’t want to be part of the “Canadians that are too busy.” I want to be someone who is a neighbour to someone who says, “I feel a sense of belonging in my community.” Hopefully my daughter will continue this tradition long into the future so that it becomes a family trait!

Thank you so much for sharing! I hope this helps you to stay true to who you are!


P.S. If you have similar stories or other suggestions please comment!

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