This morning I pulled into the Mimico Adult Ed Centre parking lot in my truck for my day of weaving and woodcarving classes. As I cruised around looking for a convenient parking spot I noticed a woman with a bike watching me. She had a stern look on her face, for some reason she seemed to disapprove of me. Or something. I parked and walked toward the entrance, passing the lady with her bike. She stopped me to talk, asking if I worked here.
I had a hard time understanding her, she seemed upset or concerned, she held up her bike lock and gestured toward my truck. I looked at her blankly, I had no idea what she wanted. Then she pointed in the other direction, at a man walking into the parking lot
Wait, she said, He speaks good English.
So I waited, and as he approached the building entrance she called out to him. He came over and she began to explain to him what her problem was.
Finally he turned to me and said, She has her bike lock but she brought the wrong key, it's her son's bike lock key. She can't lock her bike up and is wondering if she can put her bike in your truck while she is in class.
In the mornings at Mimico Adult Ed, they run ESL classes for immigrants. They are from all over the world. In the hallway, they have posted little one page personal descriptions of many of the students, written in their own words. They are quite poignant, some have good language skills, some do not, they are of all ages and from many different countries. These two people are obviously in an ESL class, but I do not know what language they are speaking, or where they are from.
Once I know what she wants I agree to it. I arrived early today so I have some time to kill anyway. I get a rag to wipe some of the slush off her bike wheels and fortunately have a couple of tarps I can use to protect the stuff I store in the back of my truck. The man helps me manoeuvre her bike into the truck, and I lock it up. I tell the man that they should follow me to my classroom so they will know where to find me when she needs her bike back. I ask the man to be there to help get her bike out again.
A couple of hours later, they are at the door of my weaving class looking for me. I go out to unlock my truck for her.
She pats my shoulder and says, You are a very nice woman.
I say, I am sure you would do the same for me.
After we get the bike out, the man asks my name and I tell him. He tells me that my name is the most popular name in the whole world. Then he tells me his name, Vasily, and she tells me hers, Emilie. She is Polish and he is Ukrainian.
I look at Vasily and say, You just had an election! How was it? Are you happy or disappointed?
He looks around and then says, I am very disappointed. That man is a murderer.
He starts to say more, and then stops and says that he must go, he will explain more the next time.
After my woodcarving class I am ready to go home. I go to the hallway where all the student descriptions are posted and I look for Emilie and Vasily. I find their descriptions, on the wall across from the lunch room. Emilie has included a photo of herself, Vasily a little cartoon of a teddy bear.
Emilie has come here with her husband and children, she has an MA in Administration from a Polish university, and hopes one day to learn enough English to get a job as an Administrator.
Vasily is here alone, his wife and children are still in the Ukraine. He came here to be free. Life is very difficult, he does not have a job, but he hopes to get himself established here and to bring his family to be free too.
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