I am an international student in Langley Fundamental School. As part of our school's community involvement, we are participating in the 30-Hour Famine fundraising event for World Vision Canada. Participants are required to get sponsors who pledge financial support for our efforts.
I went door to door in my upscale Murrayville neighbourhood for pledges. Some politely said, "No, I am sorry," and others gave generously.
One reaction, however, prompted me to write this letter. I knocked on the door and an older lady opened an upstairs patio door. She looked out, saw me standing there, and before I could even make my pitch for the donation, said, "No we don't want any."
I could have accepted that, but she then turned back into the house and, in a voice loud enough for me to hear, said to someone inside, "It's just some Chinese girl and she can't even speak English."
My jaw dropped as I heard the words. I have been here for three years learning English. How could she be so judgmental?
How could she be so racist?
In the three years I have been here, I knew to expect those sidelong glances one gets for being a different colour, but I have never been so stereotyped before. She knew I could hear what she was saying, and she said it anyway.
I turned, and in tears retreated back to my homestay family's house. They asked what was wrong and my tears flowed again.
This is Canada: the land of opportunity, diversity, multiculturalism, and I thought, acceptance. Clearly there are some who have no understanding of these concepts.
I even changed my name to an easier-to-pronounce English-sounding one, so I could feel more a part of this wonderful country.
To the lady on Southridge Crescent who treated me this way, I offer this small piece of advice: please, be more careful what you say to someone at your door.
We may have different-coloured skin and we may have a bit more difficulty pronouncing the words of the English language, but we have feelings, and words like hers are very hurtful. Please, don't treat strangers this way.
Name withheld by request, Langley