I am not sure that this is Today’s Perfect Moment, but it certainly deserves a bit of reflection.
I work at a private ESL school in Toronto. Our clients come from all over the world to study English from 2 weeks to a year, occasionally even more. I’ve met people from all over the world, and I’ve met people who have interesting family backgrounds that can be surprising.
Toronto itself is a very very multicultural place, so on the subway, in the shopping malls, and in the food courts, they get lost in the shuffle. When I hear a person speaking another language, my first thought is that they are so lucky that they speak more than one language, rather than they are from a foreign country. In most cases, I guess they were born here but speak their parents mother tongue at home. This isn’t true for everyone, but I don’t bother to investigate the statistics of immigration.
All of that is background to a recent event in my class. A new student appeared and she either introduced herself, or she answered my questions about herself. I couldn’t place the accent–generally I am pretty good at this, but this doesn’t apply to people in North America. After asking her where she was from, she answered Slovakia.
This one was a new one for me. In almost twenty-five years at the school, this was the first Slovak student I have had. We had a former teacher whose father or mother was a Slovak–the other was Czech–but no students.
For me this is a cause for a bit of celebration. I don’t get new countries often, so I felt pretty good about it. I haven’t made any special tally of the different nationalities of my students, though sometimes I think I should. What I am sure of is that there are quite a few countries whose citizens I haven’t met….yet. Nonetheless, I am always glad when I can meet somebody new. It shows me just how small the world can be and how similar we all are.