Luciana Pontual Gazzoni
My family and I took a sabbatical from August 2017 to November 2018, and moved from Brazil to Canada for experience abroad. We were looking to get out of our comfort zone in order to expand our horizons, learn about different cultures as well as improve our understanding of English as a second language.
chose Toronto to give shape to our dreams since we had heard positive comments
about its being a safe city with good schools, beautiful neighborhoods, fair
transit and friendly people. We also heard about the drawbacks, of course. For
us, the scariest was the extremely cold weather, the fear being that we would
be facing our first real winter against the background of our having been born
in a scorching hot land. Anyway, we were excited to witness the lovely bright
snowflakes falling from the sky. Surprisingly, we ended up having a honeymoon
in the Canadian winter, but that is another
As soon as I arrived in Toronto, I realized in happiness and excitement that I was interacting with people from all over the world. It was a cosmopolitan environment. To be honest, I was not expecting this vast variety of ethnicity sharing the same city. On my everyday commute I would hear people speaking an immensity of distinct languages on the train. Since the reality in my home country is totally different, I was enjoying every moment in this little world of such diversity.
Although Brazil is a huge country, a large majority of its people speak only Portuguese, and were born in Brazil. Immigrants represent less than 1% of its population nowadays. So, I considered myself blessed to have the whole world to explore just a few steps from my Canadian home. Definitely, it was amazing to discover samples of our global civilization living peacefully in the same metropolis.
Regarding my interest in learning a second language, I went for English classes in the Toronto public system called TDSB, where I made friends with many immigrants. Even though my class had around 30 students from different cultures, religions and backgrounds, they were all able to work as team players, respecting and coping with one another in absolute harmony. I was the only Brazilian amongst Africans, Asians, Arabs and so on, and they made me feel at home. Most of them were brave people who had to flee their home countries due to war, persecution, violence, poverty and other issues. Moreover, they were in an endeavor to start new lives from scratch since they had to leave their previous lives behind. They had their own faiths and beliefs, but were able to keep them just to themselves. Having the opportunity to relate, hang out and celebrate friendship with them was
had picnics, strolls around the city and dinner together, which were exciting
moments of learning, enthusiasm and joy for all of us. We shared our worlds
with one another in a way that was based on a lot of love, understanding,
compassion. Based on my own experience, I am inclined to believe that the blend of different cultures is one of the most prominent events in the evolution of human civilization. It unites people from all over the world and grants them a sense of unity. Some people might think of it as an issue, but I see it as an amazing opportunity to meet new faces, make new friends, embrace new concepts and ideas, taste different kinds of food, experience new music and arts, and eventually expand our imagination. In other words, difference is wealth and diversity is a precious treasure.