My name is Ying, and I came to Canada from China in 2006. I am a yoga instructor, and I also write blogs about yoga, wellness, and Chinese culture, which I love a lot. After living in Canada for over 16 years, I now consider myself a Canadian or, more specifically, a Chinese Canadian, an identity that took me a long time to recognize. This recognition comes partly from my blog writing and the study of the Developing Writing Skills course at Athabasca University. I attended the course because I had trouble expressing myself clearly, and I was not satisfied with what I had posted on my blog. I was hoping to develop the ability to introduce ancient Eastern culture, such as yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in a plain and simple way. Having written posts and studied writing at a Canadian university, I noticed that the influence of diversity culture has appeared more and more. And the influence should be deeply understood for better communication in a country like Canada, where immigrants are the majority.
When I was in China, I didn’t realize that the Chinese were homogenous. In China, we use idioms a lot, which tells people that we are cultured people. A four-character idiom usually has a historic story behind it, and its meaning is not just from characters; it includes the historical background. I was so used to the idioms and enjoyed seeing them that when I read the suggestion “Don’t use trite expressions” from our textbook, it troubled me. I believe that using an expression that most people are familiar with is an easy way to communicate. An expression being mentioned over and over again means many people resonate with it. Now, we are advised not to use it because it has been used many times! For me, it’s a denial of wisdom and breaks the connection with history. After a few days of reflection, I realized that compared to China, a country that has over five thousand years of history, Canada, a country that has less than two hundred years of history, is a young country. With people coming from all over the world, Canadians would not have the collective consciousness that is planted deep in the bones as Chinese people have. I can keep my cultural roots for myself, but I should not use the old way of habitual thinking to communicate with other people. I should learn the communication skills needed here in Canada.
As a matter of fact, writing skills are one of the communication skills. They can be learned, and the results are encouraging. The Developing Writing Skills course is very helpful. Following the suggestions from the Write Site and comments from the tutor, I revised my assignments every time. Having transferred the writing skills to my blog posts, I paid attention to the topic sentence and concluding paragraph, and I tried to make the contents more accessible to people here in Canada. I enjoy studying as it provides many tools and ideas for my blog posts. I like the fact that I can express my opinions in a more neutral way instead of pushing or preaching, and my writing flows better and is easier to understand. Of course, now that I am in my middle age, I find that it’s not easy to study due to fossilization. I still struggle to choose an accurate word and I am not sure about the grammar. Nevertheless, I have more confidence in writing. I am glad I took the Developing Writing Skills course because it has empowered me and also inspired me to see things from a different perspective, which is the key to communication.
One of the writing techniques that I learned is to appeal to common points of view. In my reflective journal, I concluded that this technique didn’t work, especially when people from different cultures are involved. After further contemplation, my understanding goes deeper. We might have different cultural backgrounds, but we are all human beings living in a global village, sharing the same planet, and we all like to be healthy and happy. This is the common point of view. I can write about Chinese culture, yoga, and wellness using this common view. There are many ways toward well-being. I learn from other people; other people learn from me. This is the benefit of diversity in culture.
Having studied at a Canadian university enhances my understanding of Canada. I at last understood what a multicultural country means. It means we not only learn to assimilate into the local culture and blend in with society as immigrants, but also keep our own roots. Canada has its own culture, which for me is multiculturalism. I am pleased to contribute as a Chinese Canadian, not from the perspective of Eastern culture, but from the perspective of humanity’s common heritage. Canadians are known for their acceptance, tolerance, and respect, which I believe should be credited to the ethnic diversity in our culture, and I am proud to be a Canadian.
Lipschutz, Gary, et al. The Canadian Writer’s Workplace, 8th ed., Nelson Education, 2017, p230, 287.