EAWLC Online Tour of Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art: Art Across Cultures

The East and West Learning Connections proudly brings to you

Online Tour of the National Museum of Asian Art (Freer|Sackler)

Topic: Art Across Cultures at the Freer Gallery of Art

The creation of art is a universal human endeavor. But what connects
artwork across cultures and what sets them apart? In this tour, we will
observe and compare artworks from diverse cultures across Asia, and explore
the question: When different cultures meet, what happens to the development
of art in ideas, aesthetics, styles or technologies?

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AGO Artworks Show & Talk @East and West Learning Connections

With the courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), our old friend, artist and art educator Doris Purchase will come to the East and West Learning Club as a guest speaker again, and facilitate AGO Artworks Show & Talk events!


We’ll start with an art engagement workshop in March.  Doris will use a video she created for the AGO, introducing two important Canadian artists, and facilitate a very engaging art talk based on their artworks.  One way that you can prepare and engage in this workshop will be to think about two words and how they relate to your personal experience: “tough” and “love”.  You are also invited to have something citrus and have a smell or taste of cinnamon, ginger or vanilla when you join the zoom.


Guest Speaker: Doris Purchase

Artist and art educator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Public programming and Learning

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Doris has lived in Toronto since attending OCA in 1987.  She is a conceptual artist focusing on the painting.  Doris works part time for the AGO as a tour guide, and enjoys connecting people with art and engaging them in a creative process.

In 2018, Doris came to the East and West Learning Connections (then ‘the East and West Learning Club’) for the first time, and was one of the guest speakers for our East&West Dialogue event.  We were all inspired by the originality of her artworks, as well as the life experience she genuinely shared with us.  We are so happy that she will come again and try something innovative, to introduce the highlights of the AGO’s collections, and facilitate talks to connect our life experiences with the art!

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The English Conversation @EAWLC

* We are constantly recruiting native English-speaking facilitator volunteers for the English Conversation program!  Please see the invitation message at the end of this announcement.

Have you ever wondered what to talk about in a social conversation?  Or as an immigrant do you sometimes feel it is difficult to join your local co-workers’ conversation because you don’t know the people or things they are talking about?  Or do you just want to find a safe, relaxing and friendly environment to talk to some native English speakers, and enjoy a pleasant conversation while at the same time enhance your English speaking skills?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, we encourage you to take the advantage of the English Conversation program.  Please see below message from Judith Lawrence who kindly launches and leads the program for free at the East and West Learning Club!

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Reading for Culture with Emma: Monthly Reading Group @East and West Learning Connections

Culture is the beliefs and practices of a people, and literature is one of the richest repositories of these beliefs. In this reading group we will read canonical texts that greatly influenced English literature, and as we read, we will encounter dominant cultural values that still hold sway today.  The importance of free will, the individual in society, the role of gods and fate, the nature of virtue, and the conventions of love and gender are just some of the ideas we will explore. We will read works ranging from Ovid in the 1st century BCE to Chaucer in the 14th century CE–literature that greatly influenced English writers, and literature that was considered the earliest kind of English literature. Before 1500, works that influenced English literature were written in Latin, Italian, or French; moreover, early “English” literature is written in a version of English that native speakers now no longer understand! Therefore, the readings are all in modern English translations. Web links, PDFs, and library links will be provided to enable members to gain affordable and easy access to these texts.

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My Dialogue with CBC

My Dialogue with CBC

By Yang Wang

December 31, 2020

Recently, I had several emails with the CBC, exchanging our opinions on a piece of news aired on their radio.  I’d like to share with friends the key parts of the correspondences which are pretty self-explanatory as follows.  Thanks to my friends for helping me find the contact information, and for their feedback during our chats!

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EAWLC Zoom Dialogue on Future Jobs and Education: the Trends and How to Get Prepared

Our final public event in 2020 will be a dialogue about future!


The dialogue between a professional human resource development strategist and an engineer  father of three, that will bring along their vision for tomorrow’s job market, how jobs would be created, who would be the most valued workers, the trends in education, and how we can prepare ourselves and/or our kids today for success tomorrow!

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Notes from the EAWLC Personal Communications Training for Members

Notes from the EAWLC Personal Communications Training for Members

Notes from the Personal Communications Workshop

For The East and West Learning Club on 21 November, 2020

Practical, Helpful, and Useable Skills

We’re here for about something really important. Something that, if you pay
attention, will make a positive difference to how things work for you. I
learned this through experience and it changed the way I approach
Plus, while we’re at it, we can enjoy ourselves. Let’s get started.
Personal Communications means how we speak to each other, humans
speaking to other humans. I know you know how important that is
otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. I know many westerners are not very
good at this and there is a bigger challenge with cultural and language
The purpose of this workshop is to bring a clear understanding of the value
of skillful personal communications at work, at home, and in the
community. For these purposes, most of these examples and stories are
set in the workplace.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of harsh words from others and
perhaps done it ourselves. We all know what it feels like: that it’s hurtful,
harmful to relationships, and damaging to loyalty and productivity. It shows

unskilled personal communications. Why? Because it causes damage
when it isn’t necessary.
There’s a much better way and all it takes is the willingness to polish those

skills. This workshop introduces how to do it. No matter how shy or self-
conscious you are. This is confidence building and who doesn’t need a little extra confidence.

It tells you if you’ve been skillful, or not.

Here are some examples of communications styles: shy, or confident,
aggressive, clear, confusing, withdrawn, talk too much
Take a moment and think about your own communication style when you
talk with others. Your style might be different and that’s interesting.
There’s no right or wrong answer.
Whether you are speaking or writing, think about how you are
presenting yourself. We all have bad days but in general be
aware that you are respectful, pleasant, and clear. This is what
you are bringing to the exchange. Not everyone will be receptive
to you but this mustn’t be taken personally.
Why might someone not be receptive to a request?
What to do if someone is not receptive?

The idea is to communicate so that it works for you AND the
others involved. You want information, or you want to give
information, or persuade. Think about how you want to do that.
With practice it becomes second nature.
1. The Western culture of asking questions – it’s expected in
Canada that if you want information, you’ll ask.

How to ask – Here are the basics:
– Formulate your question
– Decide who to ask – more detail on this later
– Go to that person or send a note “I have a question about xyz
I’d like to ask. Do you have a minute?
– When you ask for help, say what it’s about. Not just I HAVE
A QUESTION. Why? Because then the person has to ask you
QUESTION IS ABOUT WHAT? Say what the subject is.
– If the person is able to help you (they have knowledge and
time) have the conversation or, set a time and place to do that.
Phone, their office, yours, meeting room, however things are
done in your work place. If its appropriate, take them for
coffee. Good for relationship building too
– If the person says no, you can ask if there’s someone else
they recommend. Repeat the same process until you get your

The important thing to remember is that when you are at work,
everyone is there to do the company’s business. Yes, there’s a
hierarchy, but it’s all the company’s business and if you need
information to do your part, then ask for it.
Unskillful and Skillful Examples
Unskillful example: I’ve seen people advise “ask for 5 mins even if
you know you need more”.
Skillful: I think that’s deceitful and unfair. Say what you need and
don’t play games. Like – It might take 20 minutes or so.
Unskillful Example: Once I went to a colleague’s office to ask a
question and before I’d started talking, she slapped her
wristwatch and said you’ve got two minutes. We had a good

working relationship and I was offended. She was trying to
accommodate me but went about it in the wrong way. I said that
I’d try someone else.
Skillful: IF my colleague said I’m crazy busy, can I come back to
you in 2 hours or tomorrow. Can it wait? Then there is no problem
and no damage done.
Getting comfortable with this builds confidence.
Who to ask
Your boss or manager is a great place to start. Plus, that’s their job.
Or ask a colleague who works with the information you’re after. If
it’s in another department, ask that manager to refer you to
When to ask
If you’re in a big meeting don’t shy away from asking questions.
You wouldn’t ask the CEO about a problem with a printer so use
your judgement. Someone might say that they’ll fill you in after the
You can ask questions almost anywhere or anytime using this
method. I’d avoid asking questions in the bathroom – though it has
happened to me. Questions are never stupid. Just use your
What’s appropriate
The workplace is more formal than home or the community and it’s
not really a place for personal comments or questions. Unless they
are flattering and not too personal.
Unskilled: That’s a lovely dress. What size is it? How much?
Where’s it from?
Skilled: That’s a lovely dress

The workplace does produce friendships and friendship is a
wonderful thing. Keep in mind that work was the reason you met
and the friendship shouldn’t override that, especially at work
A word about gossip – telling stories about other people which are
not confirmed as true and are damaging or hurtful to the subject.
This is a very shabby thing to do. It is the opposite of respectful and
will earn you a very bad reputation. Yes, lots of people gossip. My
advice is to avoid being one of them.

2. How to ask and choose words for your questions
The big picture – be respectful, polite and clear. If you’re
unsure, you can say so.
Skillful: I need some advice about xyz – say what it’s about,
Or, may I ask you about xyz?
I stress again the importance of practice.
Unskilled: If you say: tell me what you think about xyz, you
might get a negative response. The question has set them up
to say NO. Why?
Because you’ve demanded rather than asked and people
don’t like that. Your tone is really important. Use a moderate
tone, not loud or harsh or barking. Repeat question, new tone.
Other examples. Imagine the response each will bring:
Unskilled: What’s the matter with you?
Skilled: Is everything alright?
Unskilled: Give me directions to the bank
Skilled: Could you help me please? I’m lost and looking for the

Unskilled: Do this and make sure it’s done by 5:00.
Skilled: Could you do this ready for 5:00?
Avoid accusatory language
Unskilled: This is the worst work I’ve ever seen. Do you have
brains or straw up there?
Skilled: This seems to have got off track. Will you get your
notes and we’ll take a look at it.
3. Small talk
The best thing about small talk is that it’s friendly. Most
Canadians are friendly but not all, it’s true.
It holds the possibility of finding something in common,
building a relationship, and it’s the basis of networking which
opens doors and can add success to life and work. I think it’s
like gliding.
Unskilled: Don’t barge in or stand there saying nothing. That
usually gets you ignored – like who are you? and what do you
want? we don’t know you.
Skilled: Approach people and introduce yourself. If it’s a group
– ask may I join you? “May” is asking (more formal and polite).
“Can” means able and it’s more casual, Can I join you?
Comment on the day, the place you are in, ask what brings
them to this gathering, ask about hobbies, languages spoken.
And pick up on one of those things. Like – What’s your
favourite language to speak & why etc. Listen with interest,
pay attention to what’s being said and not looking around “for
someone better”. Be respectful and you can’t lose. Applies to
women and men.

Be open with body language, relax, look people in the eye,
stand straight, make effort to enjoy the conversation. Use
humour if you can. You can stay as long as you & the other
people are talking and enjoying. If it slows down you can say:
nice to meet you and thank you for the conversation, or
excuse me, I’ve just seen the person I’ve been waiting for.
Thank you.
Shopping is a great opportunity for small talk practice.
4. People and relationships – formal and casual and the link
between them. If you are casual in a formal relationship it can
be problematic. If you are formal in a casual situation it’s not
so bad. Why is that?
Formal relationships are formal, require respectful and polite
conversation. You can talk about most subjects and better to
be interested rather than opinionated until you know the
person/people. Ask questions, don’t be vulgar, be worth
talking too. The same with casual relationships though you
can be more relaxed.
None of this means you have to be NICE to everybody all the
time, and let people walk all over you and weaken your
authority. Not at all. We can be assertive and respectful. Say
what you need to say without causing damage and making
the situation worse. This is what it’s all about.
We’ve focused on how you speak to others and now we’ll
focus on what to do when others aren’t skillful with you.
Sometimes I decide to ignore something because it’s not
worth it, or not that interesting, or annoying.

Racism is a different, potentially terrifying thing. What to do
when a complete stranger comes up to you and says
something racist? In that split second, acknowledge how it
makes you feel. Hurt, frightened, angry – all awful and
understandable. You have to do some self-management and
don’t act on those feelings. This gets easier with practice too.
I suggest that through a nod or gesture you let that person
know you heard them. Then walk away. This is for your safety
– because a person who would treat a stranger like that is
already not playing by the rules. It doesn’t mean that what
happened is okay. It’s not okay, it’s unacceptable.
This is sticking up for yourself by not engaging. It’s skillful.
Even though you might think it’ll make you feel better to let
them have it, that could just escalate things instead of being a
teachable moment – with an aggressive stranger. If the threat
continues ask a passerby for help, or shout for police.
We are living in a time of some difficulties. Think about what
you want from a situation and then choose how to present
yourself and your request. We all create an atmosphere
whether we are aware of it or not.
It takes some self-management and some practice – do that
and it becomes 2nd nature. Remember …

© Eleanor M. James November 19, 2020


Special Program for East and West Learning Club Members
Three private thirty minute sessions for $100.00 via Zoom or phone
Explore your own thoughts and interests, use your real experiences
Session One
Identify your individual areas of interest, to focus our efforts.
Naming and expanding your strengths and areas for polishing
Why listening is such a powerful tool, eye contact

Session Two
How words affect your tone, reveal your feelings and why this matters.
How to make it serve you.
Navigate potentially explosive situations and avoid the landmines
Side stepping anger, the biggest sinkhole
Rapid recovery once damage is done

Session Three
Critique – the basics of how to deliver productive critique, where to
start and how to finish
How to receive a critique, advice, recommendations, being told no, or
Saying no, or saying goodbye with a minimum of damage
Why flexing this muscle builds the confidence to manage any situation.



EAWLC Personal Communications Training for Members – Practical, Helpful, and Useable

The East and West Learning Club is offering this personal communication skills training to its members as promised.  Please check Membership page to see how to become a member, and you are welcome to participate if your membership application is accepted before  the workshop begins


All members will receive an email invitation to register for the online workshop via Zoom.


Time: Saturday November 21, 2020 at 8:00 – 9:30 P.M. Eastern Time


Cost: Free, and for members only

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EAWLC Zoom Learning for Curious People: The Fitness Remedy

Shaoxuan Zhou (Joe), a professional architect and urban designer, came to our club in July of this year, giving a wonderful lecture on the appreciation of architectural designs.  Other than an architect, ‘Coach Joe’ is also a known nickname among his friends: they often go to Joe for fitness advice, some finding it life-changing.  It all started from a casual enrollment in a community gym in Beijing in 2005.  At the time Joe had been bothered by stomach ulcer and insomnia for years.  He even stopped his indie architecture design practice, spending most of the time on all kinds of sports in a hope to get his health back on the track, but had progressed very little.  To his great surprise, Joe saw remarkable improvement in all of his symptoms within one month after he started the workout, and felt like overhauled after three months.  Ever since then, Joe’s  fascination with fitness training has driven him to educate himself on kinesiology, and become an personal trainer for himself, families and friends, in addition to a happy, healthy and successful architect again.  Exercises, if done in a right way, is bound to bring life-changing benefits to your health, according to Joe, as he has witnessed himself!

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