The Past is Another Country is a one of a kind book featuring new writing from 12 new Canadians.
All contributing writers (from China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Korea, Macedonia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Taiwan, and Uzbekistan) were participants of the Finding Your Voice writing program for new Canadians.
Some arrived in Canada with next to no English, others with very high levels, yet all of them share the experience of being a newcomer in a new home country, and a desire to share stories that matter to them.
Manitoba Scene features an excerpt from one of those stories here.
Excerpt from Yard Sales, by Jane Zhang
I still remember the first time my friends took me to a yard sale to look for a bed and a dining table four years ago. The "hostess" was both nice and beautiful. She and her husband delivered the bed and table to our apartment after learning we didn't have a car. When she found we had nothing except the bed and table, she mentioned our situation to her aunt, who was planning to move.
Soon after, the 90-year-old aunt drove her car to our apartment and told me she wanted to give us all of her furniture. Three weeks later, the lady, her husband, her sister and sister's son drove two cars to my apartment. They helped move everything in and installed all of it with their own tools. I felt I had a home in a new country for the first time.
From then on, I began to like yard sales. Yard sales are a good way to improve my English. I usually begin a conversation with a simple sentence like, 'Please tell me what you call this? Could you please tell me what this is used for?' Sometimes even a small item will bring the sellers back to a sweet or unforgettable memory. Many of them like to share their stories.
Yard sales save me money. I have found a lot of useful things at very low prices from yard sales. I bought a nearly new web camera for two dollars, through which I talk with my relatives in my home country every week. I have used it for four years and it's
been working very well. Yard sales offer a good way for people to avoid waste....
...Every weekend during the warm months, I like to go out to yard sales, either looking for something unique or looking forward to a nice talk with people.
I'll blend in with this culture more and more as time passes. Soon I will no longer be a newcomer. But I cannot forget the help I received during my first months here when it was a hard time being in a new country. And I will never forget what the ninety-year-old aunt said to me -- that it was very hard for her when she immigrated here 50 years ago, so she was happy to do something for other newcomers.
Jane Zhang (Photo Saad Ahmed)
Hong Yan ( Jane) Zhang was born in Northeast China.
She currently works as an administrative assistant for
Employment Projects of Winnipeg. She has a diploma in
Business Administration from Red River College and a
B.A. in Education from Liaoning University.
This content is provided by Hong Yan. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.
Listen to interview with another author from the book. Daniela Ristova of Macedonia was on CBC's Up to Speed with host Larry Updike.