Table tennis serves up friendship

Toronto Inspires when playing a game sparks a sense of belonging.

Dina z_21bcf6b5Shared by Dina May, a recent newcomer from Russia

When you come to new country you start your realization from a new page. It’s a great chance to build your new life track. Some consider this difficult. Others dive into this opportunity headfirst.

From the beginning, I felt fear speaking with someone. It’s a common feeling among new immigrants. The fear of looking obscure vanished when I started to play table tennis. It happened during the second month of my living in Toronto. I found (what turned out to be) the best social club in my area through the internet and decided to check out the place, which is named My Table Tennis Club. When I came to the club, I saw a big space with good equipment, 12 new courts with tables, a table tennis robot and  special flooring. This club impressed me from my first view. Not only was the club good, but so was the manager, Gareth. He met me with a wide smile, and his sparkling eyes told me that he was very glad to see a new young woman in his club. He gave me a tour around the club and instructions about membership. After chatting, he told me that I should not be hesitant with my language, because there is no one who speaks English well. ”Just me”, he said kiddingly. 🙂 Gareth came to Canada a long time ago from the UK, and he knows how immigration can sometimes be difficult.

Playing Table TennisAfter giving me a tour, he offered to play a game to see my playing level. When we played, he made jokes, made funny faces, told some stories (even though he knew that I wasn’t understanding his English very well). He created a friendly atmosphere, and inspired me to come to the club every day. The main thing was, when he listened to my story with patience, sometimes correcting me, he gave me confidence in myself. Coming to the club every week has become my favorite activity.

Table Tennis TournamentAfter a short time, I started to play in tournaments. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost, but this is not so important. The important point is that I made many friends from different countries, such as Poland, India, China and so on. While communicating with them, I understood that many of them came to the Canada some time ago, and they got used to living here, speaking a non-native language and enjoying Toronto life. I thought at those moments, if they could do it, I have to too!  I am still going to the club regularly, meeting new people and extending my communication horizon. By offering this example, I am trying to say, if you want to live in this country you should join it. You should be a part of it. Just be free, communicate, play, dance, dream, enjoy life and everything will come to you some day.

Inspirational Takeaway: Dive into your new community.


One resilient woman inspires another

Toronto Inspires when the resilience and generosity of one immigrant woman inspires resilience and admiration in a Toronto newcomer.

Shared by Jiraporn Sonpaveerawong

jenna DSC_0452Can you remember your experiences when you first came to Canada? I strongly believe you haven’t forgotten them.

Patra is curly-haired, brown-eyed and of medium height. I met her by chance last year and didn’t make contact with her again until this February. She and her four children have been surviving in Scarborough for more than ten years. The stick-to-it-ness in Patra’s principles is seeing her glass half full and understanding knowledge is power. This inner drive forced her to attend many courses for her new career. As many people who have taken a health professional license know, it is very difficult. High tuition fees and one year of clinical research training haven’t supported her to find a job because most of the positions were in the USA.

Time passed day by day. Meanwhile, the cost of living for her family was increasing. She realized that her dependents can’t wait so long for her trial and error solutions. She started her own business, a Thai cuisine restaurant, after attending a food handling and culinary course. She trained her four kids to help in her business by having them deliver food to customers and be food handlers in the restaurant. Her rugged life was not smooth due to her ultimately losing her restaurant capital.

Life must go on. She survived by working a part time job as a chef, at the same time as taking a realtor course. As the real estate business has been booming for the past decade, she has earned much money from this career. She has also been working as a chef to gain more experience. Perhaps, she will be an owner of a Thai restaurant again. She encourages her four children, who are now teenagers, to continue working as chef assistants and food handlers to support in her future business.

Listening to her open-hearted stories has motivated me to fight to the end. Her heartfelt character and generosity led her to be an impressive person and a close friend. Patra’s experiences have helped me to understand living in Toronto. It’s not necessary to start from zero.

How come I met this resilient woman? She is concerned about my difficulties in finding accommodation and settling down to life in a new place. So, she drove with me to many places to buy everything and gave me suggestions about how to select things suitable for living in Etobicoke. Her most important quality is her generosity.

Patra, thank you so much for your friendship and your kindness.

Thank you for your inspiration.Inspirational Takeaway: Resilience fosters resilience.

Another reason Toronto Inspires: Shared by Jiraporn Sonpaveerawong, a recent newcomer from Thailand