This week I had my own nugget of belonging, a whisper of connection.

I was doing some research for the writer in residence program I want to set up at a school for migrant and refugee children when I met a young woman. We smiled, shook hands, and had a brief conversation about my hopes for the program. As I talked with her and watched her interact with the students I thought: she’s the type of person I could bounce ideas off, she’s someone I could work with. She’s someone I connected with immediately and understood.

Now I met several wonderful caring and generous people that day and had stimulating conversations and learned a lot but for some reason there was an instant connection with this one woman. I felt I knew her. Maybe she’s just particularly open and welcoming and everyone feels that way around her.  Or, maybe it’s because, her and I are a similar type of person.

It turns out that what I knew was her culture. She is Canadian. And she is from Toronto, which is a special rooted place in my wanderings. Subconsciously, I must have picked up on embedded cultural clues. I must have read into her movements a way of talking that goes back to my childhood. I deciphered in her words, a way of being that is, broadly speaking, distinctly Canadian: upfront, open and serious. I understood in the eye contact and her facial features what the meaning was behind her words.

I realized once again that the footprints of my first country on my being may have faded but they remain profound.  Even though, I know that if I went back to Canada to live, I would feel like a foreigner.