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My New Life in Canada

I am from Colombia. I was a high school teacher. I taught chemistry and biology. One day my friend told me that she had met a man from the US, because they had been pen pals and then she told me everything and gave me the address in Bogota. I went to Bogota. When I called, a woman answered the phone and gave me an appointment. She told me what the organization was about. She made arrangements for pen pals from other countries. Also she asked more questions. I answered all the questions. I told her I was interested in writing to someone in other countries, for example Peru Ecuador, Venezuela and the US, but I didn't mention Canada.

I returned to Libana in Tolima again to teach chemistry and biology. After four months, I received a letter but it was a very strange one because it was from Canada and written in English. I told my friends. They were English teachers, so they translated it from English to Spanish. My pen pal sent post cards and letters and I sent the same back. After one year I invited him to visit my country, but I was very pessimistic. He sent a telegram right away. I was very excited. The telegram gave the date and flight number. My friend and I were excited and she said she would translate for me.

On the first of July he came, but I was alone because my friend had many problems with her mother. Therefore when he spoke English, I was embarrased because he thought that I could speak English very well, but I didn't speak English at all! We took a taxi and went to a hotel to find an employee who could translate. On the second day he proposed marriage to me. I answered "yes".

We went to the Canadian Embassy and the passport office. We visited many places, for example the Gold Museum, Monserrate Church, the Republica de Colombia Museum, the City of Honda, the City of Ibaque. He returned to Canada at the end of July. On the first of October I came to Canada and we got married on October 6 1989.

I was very nervous because in the airplane the hostess gave me a paper and then I had to translate and write in English. Oh my God! I was very frustrated however, I did my best. Terry and his friend were waiting for me, so we went to the car and his friend drove to his house. I thought it was far away, because Colombia is a small land and has mountains and Ontario is a big land and hasn't mountains. Next we went to the Anglican Church. Terry, my husband, introduced the minister to me. Terry was excited because he had invited a woman friend and she spoke Spanish and English. As a result, she translated. The minister asked me many questions and then I was married in Spanish and he was married in English. Everything was Ok. We travelled to many cities but I was upset because he spoke English and I didn't speak English very well. But my love was big. My sweetheart is a kind person and he sang softly and I forgave everything.

My new life required English so I went to study English at Yorkdale adult school. It was far away from Scarborough. One day I was angry because a subway employee told people that the subway was out of service but I didn't understand and all the people got off the subway. A young man tried to help me. That day I felt sad and cried. Then I went to study at Jones Avenue. This school was good because the teachers took us to many places and I studied until level 7, but I was upset because I understood very little grammar. Then I studied at Lord Roberts School. It was a wonderful place. Later I went to study at George Brown College for two years in Fashion and Design. It was a very nice course, but in March I had a stroke.

I had the stroke on March 11 1993. I was very tired. On Saturday morning I woke up and went to prepare breakfast. Then I fell down on the floor. I felt my arms shaking and then my husband asked me a question but I couldn't speak. My  husband called an ambulance and I went to the hospital. The doctors told my husband that I had a cancerous tumour and at that moment my husband cried. Then I was taken to Wellesley hospital. I was unconscious and the doctor told my husband I had had a stroke.  The doctors performed an operation on my brain and sent me to the Toronto Rehabilitation Centre for one year. My memory was lost and I couldn't remember any Spanish or English. Sometimes I think about this problem, but I am happy because I am alive.

I felt that God must be helping me since I am alive after such a serious stroke. I feel very well and happy. When the weather changes, plants and birds change or go away but the weather gets warm and they return to a healthy life. I am doing that too. Thank God.

B.L., Scarborough
June 1996

From The Scarboro Heights Record V5  #1