EAWLC Outstanding Service Award Winners

East and West Learning Connections (EAWLC) is run by volunteers.  Without their talents, commitment, and hard work,  all the programs we have offered to the public just cannot possibly come into reality.  Every year at our Annual General Meeting, our Board chooses a number of winners to receive the EAWLC Outstanding Service Awards based on time commitment, task impact, and organization involvement in the previous year.  The award does not apply to board directors, advisors, or guest speakers, even though they are also volunteers to whom we are deeply grateful for their help.  Each year there will be friends generously donating some cool items so we can give the winners as a gift.  The winners are the representatives of all EAWLC volunteers who all come to help us with a giving heart for the community.  Thank you so much, members, volunteers, and donors, for your great support and contributions! 


2022 EAWLC Outstanding Service Award winners


Jovial Si

Jovial uses her language skills and literature background to assist the Organization with aspirations.  She co-hosted an in-person and two online poetry/music events with national poet laureate George Elliott Clarke that we held in collaboration with the League of Canadian Poets.  Well prepared with great commitment, Jovial’s elegant hosting manners impressed everyone at the events.  Despite her busy schedule as a freelance translater and interpreter, She volunteered to translate an article on our blog, My Reflection on Canada Day: An Immigrant’s Perspective, which triggered heated discussion among people of different heritages in Toronto.  Jovial also worked with CBC Music executive producer Kai Black and 3 other devoted EAWLC members to present indigenous history and music for the Kanata series of our Canada in Music project.


Helen Li

Helen always proactively shares her interesting knowledge and good ideas to support the Organization.  She led a mushroom hunting trip in a forest and hosted a Taste of Summer Herbs party in her backyard for members.  Helen is A frequent participant in our programs, sharing her LIFE EXPERIENCE IN DISCUSSIONS and contributing insightful thoughts as well as feedback.  She is currently working with 1coach Eleanor James to facilitate our Inter-personal Communications Coaching Hour program.


Erica Liu

Erica is a high school student who has been helping us design and update program posters.  She designs beautiful posters, but more impressively, Erica has always been on time, quick in action, and collaborated with other volunteers on the team very well.  She is a committed, very reliable young volunteer we are so proud of!


Roman Luo

Roman is a quiet doer.  He volunteered to help with the proposal writing to apply for the Indigenous Day celebration grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage and spent an intense week, day and night, researching, proposing, and writing a big portion of the application.  The hard work won our ever first government grant.  He and his wife, Rose, also worked diligently for the in-person celebration, from helping buy supplies, and dispatching a couple of hundred copies of flyers in the neighborhood door to door, to doing chores on the day.  So did they help with our first public exhibition at the International Day celebration held by the York Regional Police.


Prizes for 2022 winners


A memoir, Where Beauty Survived, donated by author George Elliott Clarke and Penguin Random House-Knoph Canada

A coaching package donated by May Li, owner of Thriving Coach & Consulting (http://www.thriving-consulting.com/)

 A decoration gift set donated by Annie & Michael Raines, Founders of Raines Design (https://michaelrainesinteriors.com/)

A complete collection of George Orwell novels in Chinese, Shanghai Translation Publishing House, donated by translator Shawn Chen



2021 EAWLC Outstanding Service Award Winners


Aimin Xu

Aimin has provided Zoom technical support for many of our events, including all of the English Conversation programs where breakout room discussions are a big part.  Whatever new functions we need to operate on Zoom, Aimin always offers to spend the time to learn and then apply.  She is also in the poster group and has designed numerous beautiful posters for us to circulate on WeChat platform.  She is actively participating in the programs we have organized and never hesitates to give insightful and frank feedback.


Judith Lawrence

Judith launches the English Conversation program and is leading a native English-speaking volunteer team to help immigrant participants practice social conversational skills as well as exchange life experiences and perspectives.  Twice a month, she manages these great initiatives that require a lot of researching, outreaching, and coordinating efforts.


Ping Xiao

Ping is devoted to helping us develop programs.  She uses her academic, social and  financial resources to find excellent experts to organize lectures for us.  It was through her effort that we came to know Professor Emma Gorst, and launched the monthly Western Classics Book Club which has been enthusiastically received by attendees.  She is also one of the organizers to organize a Book Talk program where avid readers meet twice a month to share the books they recommend and facilitate discussions.  Besides all this, Ping is helping us draft flyers, poster content, and circulate marketing materials to promote our events.


Xiayu Chen (Shirley Chen)

Shirley has been doing website and group mail updates, marketing materials content development, and poster design.  She is always quick to act, and brings her spirit of professionalism to the volunteer work.


Prizes for 2021 winners


A poetry book, Mirrors and Windows by Anna Yin

 A decoration gift set donated by Annie & Michael Raines, Founders of Raines Design (https://michaelrainesinteriors.com/)

A bottle of blue vegan wine donated by producer ToRefine Ltd

A coaching package donated by May Li, owner of Thriving Coach & Consulting (http://www.thriving-consulting.com/)


Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!


The East and West Learning Connections Board

EAWLC stories: Kai Black and Canada in music 东西联学社嘉宾故事之 Kai Black与“音乐中的加拿大”

          Kai是我去年五六月间碰到的。那时我在上一门radio broadcasting的兴趣课,老师请了他来演讲。他在讲座最后播放了一个自己制作的广播小品,讲述小时候父母互不说话,父亲经常在家中放一首“让我走吧”的歌。长大后有一次和朋友去k歌,他唱了这一首,朋友们纷纷叫好。他第一次知道自己唱歌还不错,但其实也许只是因为这歌萦绕在他记忆里太深,让他太有感触而已。故事很短很简单,因为真实,在音乐中变得格外动人。Kai有视障,事业上倒并未受到多少影响,现在是加拿大广播公司CBC的音乐制片总监,开创了很多有影响力的节目和音乐节。他身边都是生龙活虎好手好脚的人,平时很少能接触到残障人士。有一天,他想到这个问题,就抓起电话打到CNIB(加拿大最大的盲人机构),了解其他盲人的生活和工作状态,看有什么可以帮忙的。后来他在CBC推动设立了CAPE项目,每年招收几名残障人才带薪实习,帮助他们积累工作经验。我当时并没有跟他交流,但印象深刻。Kai让我想起Tuesdays with Morrie这本书里的Morrie。他们都出身于有缺憾的家庭,缺少爱的环境,但并没有落入恶性循环,反而长成一个特别富于爱心的人。

         正是在这次对话中,Kai讲道CBC面对全国的学校发起Music Class Challenge项目,鼓励学生老师排演加拿大歌曲,参与竞赛,加强学校的音乐教育。这给了我灵感。我对音乐感兴趣,但不熟悉,对加拿大的音乐历史和现状就更加不了解。如果有机会接受音乐教育,加强对加拿大音乐和文化的了解,那就太好了。如果是免费的,对新移民来说就更好了。于是我提议Kai和我们合作,为移民社区开展一个音乐教育项目。他思考了一会儿,答应了,并且担当起总指挥的职责,找到相关资源,建议从原住民音乐开始。这个资源其实是对公众免费开放的,但如果不是他介绍,我们不会知道。Musicounts是加拿大录制艺术科学院以及最高音乐奖项Juno Awards旗下的音乐教育机构,网站提供大量优质的音乐教育资源。他们刚刚上线一个原住民主题板块,Kai当时正要和他们合作,在CBC制作相关节目。我们近水楼台先得月,搭上这趟特别列车。从去年10月开始,我们一起组织策划讲座,Kai和几位会员义工多次分别开会,确定内容,指导她们如何更好地呈现、演绎讲座。他还担纲主持,介绍并评论相关音乐作品,回答观众提问。以上这些工作,他和我们的会员一样,全是义务的。
         上周五,5月6号晚上,第一期终于开幕。整晚下来,怎么说呢,我被惊到了:原住民在加拿大的历史遭遇,人们的诉求与心声,音乐的种类、风格,获奖歌手Jeremy Dutcher把土著民谣融合进美声音乐的创新以及他美妙的歌喉……Kai、Lily和Agnes的分享、介绍和视频片段有机地结合在一起,交相辉映,张弛有度,强有力地抓住了我的心,让我不想错过每一个或感人或美妙的时刻;中间的5分钟休息和最后的开放环节里,大家通过提问互动,讨论了一些很有意思的问题。比如:Kai的孩子在听完原住民小孩被抢走、远离父母的故事后,吓得很长时间不敢自己睡,怕睡着了以后被什么人带走了。我们就此讨论了接受原住民历史教育的必要性,以及在什么年龄阶段接受这种教育比较好的问题;再比如非原住民在艺术创作中,如涉及原住民的艺术元素,该如何避免落入“文化侵权”这个当下比较敏感的领域,等等。总之,这样度过一个周五的夜晚太享受了。
         5月13号晚上,Kai和另外两位会员义工–胜男和Jovial将介绍另外几位当代原住民歌手的作品和相关历史文化;最后还将由原住民歌手Tara Williamson带领我们学唱她自己创作的歌谣。

         说到我们这几位会员义工,他们来自各行各业,有Richmond Hill一家Toastermasters Club的主席,有Markham 12年级的高中生,有Toronto的人力资源白领和口笔译的自由职业者。Kai对她们赞扬有加,说她们个个聪慧,都比他强。哈哈,东西联学社的会员们确实各具才能,又都热心公益,才会从天南海北自愿加入,走在一起为社区做点有意思的事,自己也乐在其中,比如做这个“音乐中的加拿大”系列节目,其实我也想跟Kai学两首,无奈被他拒绝参与他们单独的讨论和排演,他跟我说,如果我想要参与,只有等下次志愿者机会了。这让我又好奇又期待,想看到他们出品的节目是什么样的。事实证明,Kai是一个功力深厚的音乐制片人,一位良师益友;他对几位会员的表扬也绝非谬赞。

Readings and Podcasts for EAWLC Western Literature Book Club 2022

Instructor: Professor Emma Gorst

Time and venue: The second Wednesday of the month in the evening from 7:30-9 P.M. on Zoom


For details, the latest schedule, and Zoom link, please visit: Reading for Culture with Emma: the Western Literature Book Club @eAWLC 2022.


Please come back to check this page often as we will keep updating the reading materials and podcasts.

Continue reading “Readings and Podcasts for EAWLC Western Literature Book Club 2022”

My Reflection on Canada Day: An Immigrant’s Perspective / 2021年加拿大日随感

My Reflection on Canada Day: An Immigrant’s Perspective

Author: Yang Wang

English Translator: Jovial Si

July 2021


July 1st of 2021 marks the 154th anniversary of Canada. However, it was not celebrated with the joy and pride that were characteristic of this day in the past. The whole nation was disgraced by the heart-wrenching findings of the remains of more than 1,000 Indigenous children  in unmarked graves across the country since May.

This land had been home to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years until it was taken by European settlers. Then from 1831 to 1996, Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their parents to attend government-sponsored residential schools, run by Catholic Churches, for the purpose of cultural assimilation. In the schools’ textbooks, Indigenous peoples were called “savages”. Many of the children were sexually abused or mistreated, and many died either at school or while escaping from school. Each and every little white bone in the unmarked graves at former residential sites marks the dark history not-so-distant from now, and the cultural arrogance and barbarity of the European settlers who committed it. Continue reading “My Reflection on Canada Day: An Immigrant’s Perspective / 2021年加拿大日随感”

Readings and Podcasts for EAWLC Western Classics Book Club 2021

Instructor: Professor Emma Gorst

Time and venue: The second Wednesday evening at EAWLC Zoom room

For details, latest schedule, and Zoom link, please visit: Reading for Culture with Emma: Monthly Reading Group @East and West Learning Connections 

Please come back to check this page often as we will update the reading materials and podcasts as it goes.


Continue reading “Readings and Podcasts for EAWLC Western Classics Book Club 2021”

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!

Continue reading “My Dialogue with CBC”

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.



Telling the Story: A Letter in Response to Call from Ontario Premier

Dear Hon. Ford,

Thank you for your hard work leading Ontario to fight against COVID-19.
Your recognition of the contributions of the Chinese community in this
battle is very encouraging.  In response to your call for details of
organizations and individuals who have worked hard in the battle, I am
writing you to tell the story of a volunteer group.

The Chinese Canadian Volunteers Fighting Coronavirus is a grass-roots group Continue reading “Telling the Story: A Letter in Response to Call from Ontario Premier”

Fwd: Black Lives Matter: Let’s Listen, Empathize, and Learn

I’d like to share with our members and friends an opportunity to learn about
the experience and opinions of the black community in Canada on racism.  The
first part below is the invitation to the live online audio program from one
of the hosts.  I sent her a message, giving my thoughts on the Black Lives
Matter movement, which was attached at the end of this post.
Continue reading “Fwd: Black Lives Matter: Let’s Listen, Empathize, and Learn”