By Yang Wang
I was invited to give a speech at Don Heights Unitarian Congregation on October 15, 2023 to introduce East and West Learning Connections (the EAWLC). I shared my personal stories and observations of cultural difference, barriers for first generation immigrants, problems the immigrant community face to realize the two-way diversity process, and what the EAWLC had been doing to help address those concerns. Thanks to the engaging audience, their frank and thoughtful questions, plus interesting stories made my wish for a meaningful conversation come true!
With one of our board directors, Ping Xiao’s help, I brought with me four talented young musicians to the congregation. Their beautiful renditions as well as lovely words won lots of applause and smiles!
I’d love to invite readers to watch the video clips, and join in the conversation: what cultural barriers have you experienced or observed? What do you think would be good things to do, for the society and for new immigrants, to help build a more vibrant country with equal possibilities for everyone? You are very welcome to leave your thought in the comments area, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yang Wang: Living with Cultural Barriers and How EAWLC Has Started and Helped
Prelude Music: Butterfly Lovers
Grade 11 students at St Clements School: Rachel Chen on piano, Athena Foo on violin
Music: The Moon Represents My Heart
Charlotte Yang on acoustic guitar
Music: Long de Chuan Ren
Olivia Yang on piano
I would also like to take the opportunity to ask a favour of you. As you may know, the EAWLC has been run totally by volunteers. In the past seven years, we have organized more than 260 free cultural events, striving to offer access to quality cross-cultural learning and communicating opportunities for the public, most of them from the immigrant community. We rely solely on the support from the general public to go further and stronger. Please support us by donating, joining as a registered member or volunteer, and/or providing ideas and feedback to help us do a better job.
Click here to see everything about Becoming an East and West Learning Connections Member and/or Volunteer
Meanwhile, as a person living with vision loss, I do an annual fundraising among my friends to support the blind community in Toronto. The blind organizations I support this year are listed in the comments area. I personally benefit a lot from them in peer support, recreational and social activities. Many local talented vision impaired friends and some of the volunteers have come to help the immigrant community through the EAWLC. I am very proud to help connect the two communities in a joyful way. I’d be equally happy if you want to donate to any of these organizations so they are able to help more people with vision loss. Just give me a shout, and I’ll send you their account information.
Let me finish the message with a poem I wrote on Thanksgiving Day of this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping people in need, and East and West Learning Connections!
My Gratitude is
A Wheel Trans taxi
That could take me anywhere in the city
A tennis game, skiing, hiking or cycling
With your organizing or guiding
A helping hand or a smiley Hi
From countless strangers passing by
A brilliant idea and precious time you offered for our connections
That was always more than my expectations
My friend, thank you,
For making my gratitude
Go everywhere in Toronto,
A place I now call home
From my home to yours, Happy Holidays! Wishing everyone health, peace, and happiness in the coming new year!
For English screen-readers, the article in English ends here. Below is its Chinese version. Your screen reader may not be able to pick it up. To view comments, please jump heading to the Thoughts.
今年秋天，我应邀在Don Heights Unitarian Congregation演讲，介绍东西联学社。这是一家以西人为主、对各种宗教流派保持开放的教会，牧师谢拉曾来参加过我们的几次线上活动，故而对我们有所了解。她本人亦是一位热衷推动社区建设的社会活动家。邀请我去做演讲嘉宾时，她说如果愿意，我可以带一位音乐家去演奏。我想这是一个与其他社区交流思想的好机会；如果能把一些美妙的中国音乐作品介绍给听众，那就更好了。于是欣然应允。在联学社董事萧萍的帮助下，四位可爱的青少年乐手花一两个月的时间找乐谱、排练，于2023年10月15号上午，和我一起完成了这次演讲与演奏。我分享了自己对文化差异的体会、移民面临的融入障碍、身为华人的感受，介绍东西联学社的缘起和现状，并回答了听众的提问。最后还读了一首自己的诗以及它背后的故事。孩子们为听众演奏了钢琴小提琴协奏曲“梁祝”、古典吉他“月亮代表我的心”和钢琴独奏“龙的传人”。感觉现场气氛轻松自然，大家有真诚坦率的交流；孩子们的天真可爱、带去的优美音乐，更是收获了许多微笑和掌声，也令着个上午贯穿在艺术的美感中。上面的YouTube录像记录了演講及问答的主要部分，以及孩子们的演出片段。