Torontonians’ warmth inspires foreign student

Toronto Inspires when kindness abounds.

Story by Fangying Liao, a foreign student who when studying in Toronto goes by her English name Doris.

Fangying and friends visiting Toronto to study English

Fangying (right) and friends visiting Toronto to study English

I stayed in Toronto for 4 weeks in August, 2013 to attend a summer session at U of T. If you asked me what was the most special experience during my one-month stay, I would answer that it was the strangers who warmed me anytime, everywhere.

My first experience happened during my flight transfer in Vancouver. It was 11 p.m. when I landed at the airport, waiting for another plane to take me to Toronto. I was feeling crazy over the delayed flight, thinking that my life could not be worse. Then an overturned orange juice proved that my life could get even worse. You know like when a shabby house is loaded with a huge amount of things, and adding a straw can make it collapse. In the lounge, there was only one old lady. She walked over to me, smiling, and asking, “Do you need some napkins?”. At that moment, my heart was melting. Though I had experienced strangers’ helpfulness for twenty years, she was totally different to me for it was my first time encountering an unfamiliar country, full of unfamiliar language and unfamiliar faces. All of the experiences were different. Her small act of caring meant a lot.

Photo courtesy of Ian Muttoo

Photo courtesy of Ian Muttoo

Another story is about a staff member at The Bay. One afternoon I intended to find a necklace for my mom, which was out of stock in this exclusive shop. Although there was no such style in The Bay, the staff still took nearly 20 minutes to call up other shops and to ask about it.  Then, she told me which store might have the one I liked, how to get there, and why that store was the most likely one. As I’m not a fluent English speaker, she tried to explain it to me several times patiently. I knew even if I bought the necklace in another store, the profit wouldn’t be attributed to her. But she still wanted to help me because it was going to be a gift for my mom. I felt very moved. Before leaving, we shook hands. I expressed my thankfulness and she gave me her best wishes.

Things like these took place around me in every corner of Toronto. Once I came across a busker playing the violin at the subway station. As always, I gave a dollar and passed by. But to my surprise, he asked me to stop and listen for a while. He said only in that way could he pay my kindness back.

Fangying & friends at U. of T.

Fangying (left) & friends at U. of T.

So many strangers have moved me, such as the passers-by who volunteered to take photos for us tourists, the customers who found my friend’s IPAD and waited for us to return to the same site, and … many more.

I’ve learned a lot in Toronto; not only English, but also attitudes towards life and the world. Try to treat everyone tenderly and softly, love is everywhere. That’s the most important lesson of what I learned in Toronto.

Fangying smelling the flowers

Fangying smelling the flowers

INSPIRATIONAL TAKEAWAY:  Local ACTS OF KINDNESS MAY foster international relations.


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