Migrating North: A Reflection

I did it! I wrote for 31 days on the same topic. I can’t quite believe I succeeded while working on the report cards for my class. What helped me complete the challenge?

The prompts given by Kate Motaung for the 31 days of FMF challenge did help to focus my writing and center each post on a particular aspect of the series. I printed these prompts and tucked them inside the cover for my iPad and, each time an opportunity arose, I took the chance to write: on the bus going to a workshop, while waiting for my children at the community center as they partook in their swimming lessons, the moments before supper time. My aim was to keep the posts short and to write within the five minute allotted time.

As I was writing the posts, I was conscious of the need not to repeat myself. I did not want the entries to be depressing – especially when I wrote of those years I experienced homesickness and depression. It was difficult to think of those years – but thinking of them helped me realise how far I have come. Most of the entries came easily to my fingertips once I started writing and, before I knew it, I was ready to work on the next. While waiting for my children I would write three or four posts at a time. What I did on the day of posting was to reread what I had written to make sure I was happy with it, and then hit the publish button.

My hope is that you, my readers, enjoyed reading the series as much as I enjoyed writing the posts. What are your thoughts on the Migrating North series?

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

 

Day 31: Leaving a Mark

I may have left the country of my birth, but I will always have a bit of South Africa in me. It shows through my accent, my manner of speaking, my beliefs, and even in the precautions that I make. Living in South Africa and experiencing most of my life there has shaped who I am and the choices that I have made in the past – and continue to make even now. A part of the South Africa I grew up in resides within me.

I have lived in the city of Toronto for ten years now and I feel that the city has also left its mark on me. I have learned to live within a city in a two bedroom apartment. I have forgone the space and the lifestyle I grew up with; I no longer see large stretches of veld on the horizon. I experience the life of a pedestrian now more than I did before – an experience that causes me to structure my time in a different way.

The home of my past and the home of my present both influence me. Would I like to change the mark that both have left on me? I think not as without their mark, I would not be the person who I am now.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: leave)

Day 30: First Days

I remember my first days as a supply teacher. I was excited and yet nervous at the same time. In the beginning, each call was a step into the unknown: an unknown route, an unknown school, an unknown class. In addition, I was stepping into the classrooms of grades I had not taught before and looking at subject material I did not know.

My first days as a supply teacher led me into both English and French classes. I was soon called, however, to substitute for teachers of French Immersion and became a regular at three schools. I came to know which classes to avoid, and which schools to say no to. My days started to fill up quickly and I reached a point where I was working everyday.

Since then I have experienced first days as an LTO (Long term Occasional teacher) during which I scrambled to create lesson plans at the last minute. I have also had my first days as a contract (permanent) teacher in which I have accustomed myself to the practices of yet another school. This year my first days have consisted of a new group of children and working with a new ECE.

I have always been thankful, though, for those first days as a supply teacher. Not only did they help me see the range of schools that exist in the TDSB (Toronto District School Board), but they also led me to the point where I am now.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: first)

Day 29: United

One thing I have realised while living so far away from my place of birth is the need to be united with my husband and children. We have had to adapt to so many new things; and have often felt like strangers in the place we have chosen to live. We have traveled together as we have gone about the city figuring out the Canadian protocol in so many things we took for granted “back home”. My husband and I have been united in our desire to understand as we forayed into an education system unknown to us on behalf of our children.

As a family, we spend much time together. Weekends are spent either working together (the girls at their homework and the parents at their obligations at home), eating together, or going out together. Part of the reason we are united, I think, is that we spend plenty of time with one another. I am grateful that we all get along and that our home is not filled with discord and tension.

Being united as a family has certainly been a saving grace for me during times of homesickness, of longing for my own parents, of frustration and of disappointment. If we had not been united in our resolve and our commitment to one another, experiences may have turned out differently.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: unite)

Day 28: Awake

I waken each morning to the sounds of the city below: cars moving along the streets, the occasional human cry or bark of a dog, at times the cooing of pigeons on balconies. I lie in bed awhile and think of those who have spent moments with me in my life. Some I will see again while others I will not.

Often when I think of the past, I can’t quite believe those moments happened – especially as my life now is so different to what it was before. I think of the streets I used to walk to work in Johannesburg, the halls I danced in for competitions, the groups of students I taught in a converted factory space. I think of sitting on the steps of the Great Hall at the university I attended, and of the malls I used to shop at with my mom. These are moments I think of when I am alone: while walking to the supermarket or sitting on the sofa crocheting.

I often wake to the present and reflect on how much I have experienced in my life. The moments may not be newsworthy but they have helped to create the person that I am now.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: wake)

 

Day 27: Freedom

Since moving to Toronto, I have experienced the freedom to walk about unfettered by fear of attack. I have walked safely not only in broad daylight, but also on lamplit streets unaccompanied by person or concern.

It is not only myself who has experienced this freedom. My husband, who was attacked a few times on the streets of Johannesburg, walks down the roads of Toronto with no thought of repeating the experience. I am comfortable with my daughters walking to the library or to school on their own. In South Africa my husband and I would have insisted that we drive them everywhere. No parent there allows their young daughter to walk even to the nearby shops without an adult.

Even though there is a certain freedom to walking the streets in Toronto, I still warn my girls to be wary. Through example, I show them the importance of walking down well-lit streets and choosing busy streets for their route. I tell them of safety alerts given by the schools, and explain to them the importance of thinking of their own safety.

I do feel a sense of freedom from crime since living here. My habits, though, have been created in a country that isn’t crime-free. And sometimes old habits die hard.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: free)

Day 26: A Visitor

I remember when my mom came to visit. We had been living in Toronto for a number of years and had already returned to South Africa for a holiday. My mom wanted to see where we were living and the environment we had moved into. She wished to experience a little the life that we were leading.

She arrived during the Fall in mid-August. We went to fetch her from the airport and it was a wonderful sight to see her walk through the sliding doors. She looked tired from the trip but she still had a little more to travel: the trains and buses that we took to get to and from the airport. Settling her in our home was a pleasure and we spoilt her a little with some Canadian tastes for a meal.

Throughout her trip I got her things to taste – some she liked and others she did not. Using the day pass during the weekends, I took her to museums (sometimes with the company of my girls, other times not). While I was working, she enjoyed walking around our neighbourhood visiting the shops and exploring the streets. On the day she left, I took her to experience the Santa Parade. How lucky she was to see it on a warm, balmy day: no hats and heavy coats were needed. After the parade, we went home to eat the lunch my husband had prepared. After our meal, we all took her to the airport (by public transport) to catch her plane ad to say goodbye.

I loved having my mom visit, and enjoyed the time spent with her. And my mom? She enjoyed seeing where I was was living. Now when I speak to her of the school or the supermarkets, she can see the place in her mind’s eye and feel more connected to the conversation.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: visit)

Day 25: Enjoying the Experience

There have been a number of experiences that I have enjoyed since moving to the northern hemisphere. The first thing that comes to mind is the definite separation of the year into seasons. I enjoy the beauty of Autumn as the leaves change colour and fall to the ground. When I first saw the change, I gazed in wonder at the varying coloured leaves on trees: red, yellow and orange. After Fall comes winter and often, with the cold, comes snow. I have delighted in my children’s enjoyment of the gently falling snow. I have lifted my head in wonder as snowflakes fall lightly from the sky. I have listened to the crunch of virgin snow as I walk over it and have reveled in its sound during the quiet after a snowstorm.

With winter comes a celebration that I have always enjoyed as a child: Christmas. Celebrating my favourite celebration in Toronto has shown me a different dimension of the festive season. I have gawked at the annual Santa Parade; I have looked though windows at the beautiful Christmas decorations; I have tasted the various flavours of the season in coffees and biscuits.

I have enjoyed a range of events I never thought I would have the chance to experience. I remember fondly my first ride on a Ferris wheel. I think back to taking my children to the circus for the first time. I remember the first trip to the Ontario Science Centre, and our first visit to the Toronto Zoo.

There have been many moments that I have enjoyed with my family since my arrival in the north. And I believe that many more await us.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: enjoy)

Day 24: We Dared

We dared:

To take back control of our emotions after our home had been invaded.

We dared:

To take control of our fear.

We dared:

To step out of our comfort zone and make changes in our lives.

We dared:

To move away from family and emotional support for the safety of our children.

We dared:

To take a leap of faith; to take a chance that our choice was the right one.

We dared:

To trust one one another and to support each other.

We dared:

To make the choice that we believed was right even though others were against it.

We dared.

photo (10)

If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: dare)

Day 23: Look and You Will See

“Look and you will see”.

This expression has been especially true for me as I have adjusted to life in a big Canadian city. I have come to realize that if I look, I will see beauty among the grey skyscrapers of the inner city. I have come to know that if I look, I will see beauty in the ice-cold Canadian winter. I have come to understand that if I look closely enough, I will see and find that person who is willing to share time for a friendly chat.

Becoming aware of who and what is around me has helped me enjoy my experience here more than if I had closed myself within my apartment. Keeping my eyes open has made me aware of opportunities. Listening to others as they speak has led me to visiting places and even taking courses that have personally benefited me. Looking and seeing, being aware of my surroundings, has helped me to adjust to a life that is far different to what I imagined would experience when I was growing up.

photo (10)If you have missed any of my Migrating North posts, head on over here

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: look)