4
Writer's Block is a quarterly publication of Online English Stage 1-2. Funded by the Government of Saskatchewan.

Activity

My Journey through Sports

Author: Kostiantyn B.
Level: 6
Instructor: Zareen R.
Photo Credit: 1208100 / pxhere.com

Sport is life! There are many advantages and disadvantages in going into sports. I would like to tell my story which is connected with martial arts. The story about a little boy who became a man because of his love for boxing.

I was an average school boy.  However, other boys liked to bully me and I did not like that. The problem was that I was afraid and they realized that. It lasted about 3 years and I realized that it should not be like that and it was time for some changes. Big changes! I started watching boxing matches and admired the men in this sport because of their strength and will power. I wanted to become like them!

I asked my father to make me a pull up bar. I got weights from my neighbor.  When I just started my training, I was very weak that I could not lift anything. I ran every morning and did regular exercises. It was tough, but I did not give up. I kept in mind one phrase: "If you wanna change something, you gotta do it anyway possible!" I made my own punching bag and started to work with that as well. I believed in myself and had a couple good friends who were involved in my sparrings. It was fun!

After several months of training, I started to see some changes in my body. Other people noticed the difference too. I took it as a good sign to keep working. The town where I lived was very small and everybody knew what I was doing. Classmates did not touch me anymore, they felt that it is not a good idea. I started fighting in the MMA Sparrings and this is where I got more confidence and all this gave me a positive outlook on life.

Now, I'm here in Canada and I want my children to get into boxing too. I want them to feel that level of confidence and have the spirit to win. In my opinion, this sport helps you develop healthy friendship with people. It is better to have friends in these activities than friends who smoke or drink. Unfortunately, we do not have any sections around now. But once we move to the big city, we will keep going. I want my children to learn that there is nothing impossible in life and to ‘Never say never!’ in life!

 


Bios

Biography

Author: David P.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.

My family is composed of five members: mum, dad, one younger sister and me…. that was before I got married.  After my marriage my wife and my little son were included as well. In Peru my dad has a farm. We grow avocados and have cows there. Avocados sometimes are sold overseas (the Japan or USA market), but the cows are just for the family business to produce milk and after that we get some cheese. My mum runs a little minimarket in the town and my younger sister works as a lawyer.  She travels quite a lot around the country. I decided to move to Canada to start a new life with my wife, far from the dangers and vandalism that quite often occur there.

I lived in Huaral, 80 kilometres north of Lima.   Most of the people make their living from agriculture; they harvest fruits (oranges, apples, papayas) and vegetables (onions, tomatoes, lettuce). The rest of the population have businesses like restaurants, minimarkets, and pharmacies. We have a lot of schools and hospitals. Because we are close to the capital, some of the people go to work or study there as well. Our weather is nice. Summer is not hot; we reach 30°c max and in winter it drops down to 12°c. It is perfect!

I moved to Canada at the beginning of January, 2018.

Here, I’m a swine technician. My duties are basically: feed and water sows in breeding and gestation, follow the vaccination program every week, breed sows after they come from farrowing, and pressure washing.  In the past I was doing the same in the USA, but the difference was the size of the farm. There were ten thousand pigs in the USA and two thousand in Canada.

There are different ways to be happy. For example, I like to surprise my wife, when things I do are ok or improving. Also, I like to see my son laughing, and I enjoy when people are nice to me as well.

I like taking my family on trips, or having a weekend far from home to get some fresh air, but now with the snow and baby maybe we are just going to stay at home.   My goals are to get a better job and position, buy a house, near the city centre but in another city like Toronto, or Montreal.

What I like about Canada is the people, their kindness to help each other, the safe standard of living. What I don’t like is definitely the weather.  It is too cold in winter and it has a short summer!


Our Medical Practice in Canada

Luisabel D.
Level: 7
Instructor: Adrienne R
Photo Credit: niyazz / 123RF Stock Photo

Before we settled in Canada, we spent 10 years in South Africa, a beautiful country from which we still keep very wonderful memories, but when we think and compare the health System in the three countries where we have lived there are a lot of differences between them.

South Africa, for example, has 2 health systems: the public (government) and the private one. With the government health service, the attention to the patients in the hospital has nothing in common with the private service. The private hospitals are amazing, beautiful, and clean and the attention to the patients is first class with all the resources that any one may need at any level of care. At the public hospitals the level of the care cannot be compared with the private one and the lack of human resources also affects the quality of the service.

I moved to Canada with my family in November 2007. Since then we have been working steadily.  Working in Canada fascinated us; this is an amazing country, where working in the health field you have the joy of knowing that everybody no matter how rich, what your skin color or social origin is, gets the service. We were born and grew up in Cuba where the government socialized everything. There it was always nice to feel the same experience.

Being part of this wonderful country, and being able to contribute to the wellbeing of many others, gives us a pleasant life.   It is amazing how the health system works; we have been working in a rural community since day one of our arrival in Canada, and we are very happy and proud of that. Here, people don't need to wait hours and days to be seen by the doctor. 

We originally are from Cuba, a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea. The health service in Cuba, (after the revolution), had two eras: before and after 1990. Before 1990 Cuba’s health program was amazing with all the resources and an excellent level of care for every one with no costs.

After the collapse of the communist block, Cuba also collapsed in every aspect of life quality, but especially in the health field where people were used to having excellent care and now the country has a big lack of human and economic resources. This is the reason why the quality of the service is very unreliable.

For all of those reasons we always said that we are very lucky and very fortunate to have the privilege of living in Canada and becoming Canadian Citizens.

 


Celebration

My Favourite Festival

Author: Roksolana D.
Level: 4
Instructor: Mona B.
Photo Credit: Oleg Dubyna / CC BY-SA 2.0

My favourite festival is Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival.  This festival happens every year on August long weekend at Selo Ukraina, which is located just outside of Dauphin, Manitoba.

I like this festival because I feel like I’m back home when I’m there. At the festival, volunteers sell a lot of Ukrainian souvenirs, traditional clothing and Ukrainian food.  There is also Ukrainian music, songs, and dances all day until midnight.

Every year we go with our tent.  My family just loves camping. We enjoy our time at the festival, and it’s interesting to “build a little home” together for ourselves for a few nights.

Also, every year we meet our Ukrainian friends who live in Canada, but still far from us.  This festival is a good event for meeting old friends and making new ones.

Ukrainians started to move to Canada a long time ago and created a strong community that keeps our traditions alive.  I’m very thankful for the chance to experience these traditions by being part of a different event, Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival.

 


My First Christmas in Canada

Author: Furong Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.

We had just entered December.  I felt a strong festival atmosphere; shops and restaurants had started decorating.  Christmas lights made the street so bright and beautiful that people enjoyed it even in the -30℃ temperature.

I have been in Canada almost a year and have made some friends.  One of my friends invited me and my son to celebrate Christmas with her family.  Initially, I thought that Christmas was solely a family reunion. “Will it be too disturbed by our participation?” I wondered.  Her answer completely dispelled my fears.  She said that close friends are also part of a family.

On Christmas Eve, my son and I put on our new clothes and brought a bunch of flowers and some of our traditional food to participate in this important celebration.  We were so excited; this was our first time spending Christmas with local people.  It was also a very good chance for us to learn about a different culture.  When we arrived, all of my friend’s family was there.  We greeted each other.  The window was decorated with ribbons.  The huge Christmas tree stood in the corner and the warm fireplace sparkled.  All the exquisite decorations attracted my eyes.  My friend prepared a big dinner.  There were too many dishes to put on the table.  Everyone enjoyed the delicious food after prayer.  We played some games and talked about the differences between our two countries and cultures.  At the end of the party, as a surprise, my friend gave us, individually, the most beautiful presents.  Oh, I am so appreciative that my friend and her family gave us the most wonderful evening; it will be one of the most unforgettable memories that I will cherish forever.

 


Entertainment

Movie Review: Lily and Snowman

Author: Viktoriia H.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.

This story is about a girl Lily who made a snowman, and he suddenly came to life and became her good friend. Every winter, a magical snowman put on a show for this little girl, he showed her dreams of life in which she would like to live.

But the girl grew up and over time, life pulled them apart. One winter she forgot about the snowman, he had been in the fridge for a long time. He was left in the freezer, and the selfish woman left him there, caring only about herself and her life, forgetting about her childhood friend who gave her joy. The snowman waited for the girl every year to come to him, but she was busy with her life.

The snowman represents that our childhood never disappears and will always be there deeply in our hearts. The real life may make us forget it but one day, when we are mature enough, our childhood will gently come back to us. But Lily's daughter is the one who connects the Snowman and Lily again. In the finale, we don’t forget about our loved ones and relatives who brought joy and stories to our childhoods.

 


Family

Daughter

Author: Raul P.
Level: 4
Instructor: Jacqueline A.

In spring 2014 my daughter was born. She was born on March 15th.  It was close to spring, it made me remember that spring is close and made me proud because she is healthy. She is a strong and smart girl.  She reminds me too much of my wife Rocio.

The name of my daughter is Michelle, she was born at the Swift Current, Saskatchewan hospital. She always breaks my heart because she plays with me and brings my shoes to me when I go to work and helps me undress when I come home from work.  She is a sweetie, but all of my family brings me joy.

 


Pets

Cat's Birdhouse

Author: Oleksandr N.
Level: 7
Instructor: Ashley J.
Photo Credit: Oleksandr N.

Today I want to share a story about my daughter’s pet. First of all, I would like to highlight the fact that my daughter really likes animals. She enjoys all kinds of species, but her biggest passion is cats. She spends a lot of time with cats. She has cat patterns and pictures literally everywhere.  For instance, on her clothes, dishes, bath stuff, in her room, in books and so on. My family and I share this love of nature and provide support as much as we can. My daughter’s small zoo contains two dogs, a rabbit, a parrot, a hamster, a turtle, a few fish and a couple of cats.

The cats are an elder female and a young male.  The elder female cat is the mother of the younger male cat.  The lady cat is quiet and wise, but the boy cat is active and frisky. Their names are Alice and Simba. The name Simba was given to the kitten after the hero of the beautiful animated film The Lion King released by Walt Disney Pictures. Simba has thick, white color fur with red spots. He likes to chase mice and we always have to give some extra attention to some of our other pets.

One day in the late fall my daughter asked us to build a birdhouse to take care of some poor birds that were flying around looking for some kernels. After exploring the internet, we chose the design and built it. We used traditional materials such a plywood and wood. The birdhouse has a floor, a few posts, and a roof. We decided to put it on the fence post behind the window of our living room. This location and the open-concept design of the birdhouse would allow us to watch the birds.

We were excited when one morning we discovered Simba laying in the birdhouse. We were not able to tell if he hunts a bird this way or if he just found a good spot for him to relax in the sunlight or if he liked to eat the bird’s food. However, what we could say is that Simba likes this place and feels comfortable sleeping in it!  

My daughter has a big heart, so she asked us to build one more birdhouse and put it a little bit higher so cats will not be able reach it. We also built this birdhouse. After we discovered that my daughter has a lot of ambition because the next thing that she asked us to build was a treehouse for her. However, it is different story!

 


Recipes

Chicken Stew with Rice

Author: Oleksandra B.
Level: 3
Instructor: Dragana B.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo / Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 1 pepper
  • 1 onion
  • garlic
  • 1 kg. chicken
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 200 grams rice
  • 175 ml. white wine
  • 425 grams diced tomatoes
  • 450 ml. vegetable broth.

First, salt and pepper the chicken and fry in olive oil on both sides. Take out of the pan.

Second, add more olive oil and fry the chopped pepper, onion and garlic for 3 minutes over medium heat.

Then, add paprika and rice. Fry for a few seconds. Add white wine and stew for 3 minutes.

And then, add diced tomatoes, bay leaf, vegetable broth, salt, black pepper to rice and bring to a boil.

Next, prepare the oven at 350F.

Finally, put the chicken on top of the rice. Cover with foil. Cook for 50 minutes (or until rice and chicken are ready).

 


Fermented Cabbage Recipe

Author: Serhii P.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.
Photo Credit: Nagyman / Flickr

Everyone knows how cold and long Canadian winters can be, especially in Saskatchewan.  I want to suggest a recipe for a wonderful salad with many benefits, which I make every winter, and which can make those cold and long Canadian winters more tolerable.  My whole family likes it a lot.  Anyone can make it because it’s very easy and simple.  This is a recipe for fermented cabbage.

For this salad, you will need the following ingredients:

  1. 2 medium cabbage heads
  2. 3 - 4 full tablespoons of salt, depending on how salty you prefer it
  3. 2-3 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
  4. 2 - 4 bay leaves
  5. 5 - 6 seeds of fragrant pepper (optional)

This receipt also works for carrots.

Instructions:

First, the cabbage needs to be cut in thin slices and mixed with salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaves.  All of this needs to be pressed by hand until the salad gets juiced. 

Then, put it in a pot or pail. 

Next, press it well and put a couple of kilograms of weight on the salad.

After, the mixed salad needs to be kept in a warm room for 3 - 4 days.

Finally, after four days, the salad will be ready to eat.  It will taste best after being kept in cold storage.

Now you can enjoy the sour taste of a very beneficial product full of vitamins and macroelements!

 


Settlement

My Journey to Canada

Author: Merry Joy S.
Level: 6
Instructor: Ashley J.
Photo Credit: Merry Joy S.

When anyone hears the name Canada, they think of such a big country!  It is a really amazing place in the world.  Canada is also one of the most expensive countries to travel to from an Asian country.  I remembered the feeling when I was hired by my employer.  I was so excited and full of hope of what I would feel when I got to Canada. The first thing to come to my mind is that I will get to touch and feel snow for the very first time in my 26 years of existence. That feeling was so intense, just like a child that really wants to eat an ice cream during the summer time.  The second thing I thought is that I am going to see many establishments like tall buildings and malls, prestigious restaurants, the Skytrain and many people around the city just like what I have seen on social media where the views are mesmerizing and jaw dropping. 

Many months passed by and then I arrived in Canada, finally!  It was so many months of the roller coaster of waiting and processing all the papers just to come.  The feeling when I just landed in Canada was so overwhelming that I had tears of joy!  All of my fears were gone even though I didn’t know yet where I would go.  Even though it felt like a dream, I knew that I was finally in Canada!  I was always smiling and happy that day. I couldn’t believe that I was in Canada.  I thanked GOD for all the provisions and guidance throughout my journey.

Months later, after adapting to culture shock, being mesmerized with my first snowfall, experiencing my first ride on a snowmobile, taking my first ride on a private plane and many other firsts, I was so happy!  These memories and once in a lifetime opportunities that I have had has been like living in a magical place.  However,  despite all of the good things, I also often feel lonely and miss my family, friends, co-workers and my hometown.  Even though there is communication through the internet, the simple touch like hugs and kisses from the people you love are the most valuable.  As many people have said “there is no place like home’’.

The cold weather in Canada is so tremendous.  You cannot detect what the weather will be. A sunny and mild day can turn quickly to a bad temperature after 3-4 hours.  It is necessary to bundle up every time you go outside for safety and not just one layer, but with 3 or 4 different layers.  So much fun, right!  Winter is one of the most difficult adjustments to those people who do not have winter in their country which is ironic because winter was the longest season here to deal with!  Now I can say that winter is good for your eyes only.  When I look outside it's deceiving, but in Canada this snowy season has a few silver linings.  Having a lot of adventures like snowshoeing, dog sledding, snow tubing, ice fishing, skating, tobogganing, skiing, snowboarding during the winter is fun with breathtaking views despite the cold weather and this feeling is so AWESOME.

To conclude, I think there are many things to discover and experience and many firsts as the season goes by.  As I live longer in this place, I think I can hopefully manage and adapt to the new environment changes and make life as good as possible.  In spite of all the uphill challenges I think the best way to do this is to enjoy every moment and live life purposefully, turn the bad into good and always be grateful.

 


My New Friend in Canada

Author: Xiuzhuan M.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: jarmoluk / pixabay

I think it is a token that immigrants have integrated into the local community if they have made some new Canadian friends. I am glad that I made a new friend in Canada. She is my Bible teacher, named Carmen.

I knew her through the church. When I settled down in Canada, I emailed the church to ask for a one-on-one Bible teacher and then I received the reply, Carmen was willing to teach me. She is a good-looking young lady, and she is affectionate, amiable, and open minded, which I came to know in the following weeks. She teaches psychology to high school students. We decided to meet every Saturday. She always arrives at the coffee store on time and with impeccable hair, makeup and clothes.

Our meeting has three sections: the first one is common greeting, talking about what happened in the last week. Sometimes I tell her the problems I experienced at work. She always comforted me, introduced the local workplace culture, gave me advice and encouraged me. The second one is the Bible study. Wow, I admire her that she knows the Bible so well. When we study one chapter, she can show me the other books. The chapters are related, so it gives me a whole picture of the Bible. I think she must have read Bible many times! The third part is discussion. I often have a lot of questions about the Bible and our real life. She can explain to me and show me the relative direction in the Bible. I respect her most for her open mind. She can discuss Buddhism with me and I am so grateful to her because I have become more peaceful after one year. I call our weekly meeting a “spiritual gas station.”

She is very amiable. On Christmas Eve, she invited me to join her family dinner. Amazing! It was my first time to celebrate Christmas with a Canadian family. There were beautiful decorations on the table, like candles, a vase of flowers and beautiful utensils. Her family members prepared turkey, salad and other Canadian foods, which I do not know the name of. I was very happy to eat the delicious food with the whole family in a warm and peaceful environment. They gave me a sense of belonging. After dinner, we played a game together. We sat around, and one person said four things he/she did, three were true, one was false, the others guessed which one was false. What a great memory!

We all think it is our destiny to know each other because she just ended a Bible study before I emailed the church. Her previous student moved to another city. I cherish our friendship.

 


Exploration of Saskatchewan

Author: Sung-il J.
Level: 7
Instructor: Mona B.

It’s been almost one and a half years since I moved to Saskatchewan and another severe Saskatchewan winter is here again!  This winter has felt much colder than last winter.  Like most people, I prefer to stay warm and cozy at home.  However, I have realized that staying at home and not participating in any activities outside the house will make me lazy.  Since I’m living in a country which has so much natural beauty, I have decided to explore new places that are harder to experience in my home country.

As you know, Saskatchewan is well known for its flat land. To my shame, I had thought that Saskatchewan was a boring province upon arrival.  However, I was wrong and this province is filled with lots of exciting and special activities. I found information about these activities through social media.  I had been following several Saskatchewan travel photographers and bloggers.  I saw pictures of and information about many hidden gems in my province and was excited to see I had so many choices of places I could visit.  There are several places I want to visit but, because of time and my budget, I recently chose one place carefully.  It was a place called the Ness Creek Site.

The Ness Creek Site is located west of the Prince Albert National Park.  From Regina, it takes about 5 hours by car to get to.  It was quite a long journey and even snowing while I was driving, but the excitement of visiting a new place gave me lots of energy.  There are many reasons I chose this place, most of all for the fact that this place is surrounded with beautiful forests and has cross-country ski trails for which equipment is provided.

When I arrived at the Ness Creek Site, I unpacked my luggage in my cabin.  Before I had visited this place, my biggest concern was heating. Since this cabin site was located north and far from town, I thought the inside of the cabin may be cold.  However, the cabin was small but beautiful, cozy and warm.  After I had a simple lunch in the common kitchen area, I went out cross-country skiing.  I had experience in regular skiing but cross-country skiing was a first for me.  Fortunately, a cabin manager taught me how to use cross-country skis and introduced me to their beautiful trails.  The scenery was breathtaking.  It felt like I was the only person in the forest and like I had become one with nature.  Night time was also a very special experience.  Thanks to there being no artificial lights, I could enjoy looking at numerous stars in the night sky.

It was only a short trip that lasted 2 days and 3 nights. It was nice to know I could experience new aspects of my province and made me want to explore more of Saskatchewan and Canada. 

 


Technology

The Internet in our lives

Author: Mariana K.
Level: 5
Instructor: Tanya B.

Nowadays, we cannot turn around without hearing about the Internet and new interesting and easy ways of getting connected online. The popularity of the Internet is increasing day by day. The Social and Hootsuite’s latest collection of Global Digital 2019 reports reveals that Internet users are growing by an average of more than one million new users every day.

And this is no accident. The popularity of the Internet is growing due to the variety of services we can get. The use of the internet makes it possible to communicate with people over a long distance, make purchases, easily find and accumulate information. The broad opportunities that enable us to use the Internet help us grow, improve our education, facilitate communication and simply facilitate our lives.

Interruptions to the Internet connection, even for a short time, becomes a serious problem not only for companies and banks, but also for individual users.  The use of the Internet has become an integral part of our life, whether we want it or not. In addition, it forces us to learn new ways of getting the internet connections and new gadgets. The information revolution brings to us new challenges, but luck favours the prepared! So if you want to keep up with the times, follow the technological innovations.

Source: (https://wearesocial.com/blog/2019/01/digital-2019-global-internet-use-accelerates)

 


Travel

Friendly People in Saskatchewan

Author: Tao G.
Level: 4
Instructor: Anna M.
Photo Credit: Tao G.

I love Saskatchewan because of the endless fertile field, the spectacular living skies, the up north undulating forests, and the meandering South and North Saskatchewan River. However, what I am most impressed with is how friendly the people are. Before moving here I had visited Saskatchewan several times. During my visits I met many kind people who took time to show me the beauty of this province.

In the summer of 2016, I visited Saskatoon to look for an investment opportunity for the company that I work for. During this time I stayed in an Airbnb. Once I was free from work my host Lorie often brought me to various places and events, like the Ukraine Day Carnival, Berry Barn, the Canada Farming History Exhibition in Western Development Museum and the historical wooden railway bridge with a nice sidewalk so that I could connect and become familiar with this city.

One day in Humboldt, I went to a grain elevator named Pioneer with Lorie and her dad, Stanly because he needed to inquire about something. I had never seen this kind of grain elevator in China however, it is very common in Canada, and I was very interested in how it worked. After I told them what I was thinking a staff quickly found a helmet and work clothes for me, then he took me to explore inside the big concrete silos and offices, as well as to ride a very special narrow lift to the roof of silos and showed me the grain flows through pipes and silos. I couldn’t believe that I was able to have this experience because of the kindness of that one employee.

Later, I stayed in Lorie’s home every time I went back to Saskatoon. There was a time that I had lunch with Lorie at a restaurant downtown, we had to share a table with a pretty, pregnant lady and her young son because the restaurant was very full at that time. We had an interesting chat with her and her son. They had finished lunch before us and left to pay the bill.  She then returned to say goodbye to us and told us she had paid for our lunch too. This was the first time that a strange person paid for my meal in a restaurant.  What a nice and generous person I met in Saskatchewan!

Compared to the big cities, I like this peaceful prairie land and the kind people much more. These people are so unforgettable, and make my heart feel warm. I have become more encouraged to pass on kindness to others because of the kindness that I have experienced. 

 


Travelling to the Philippines

Author: Yujene O.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.

Koreans are known to work the longest hours among most countries. May is usually the most awaited time of year because of its nice weather and the fact that there are many holidays that take place during this month.  Hardworking Koreans are grateful for the nice, long weekends.  Holidays in May include May Day, Children’s Day, and the Buddha’s Birthday, which all allow Koreans to have extra days off in the first two weeks of the month.

While going overseas is not always a special occasion for everyone, many people are interested in going overseas and getting away from their daily grind.  I also used to go overseas in May.  Cebu, in the Philippines, is one of my favourite places with some of my favourite memories.  I visited the Philippines with my friend once.  She and I participated in lots of summer sports, like water skiing, snorkeling, surfing, and sea walking.  We stayed for a week and fully enjoyed the beautiful weather and the wonderfulness of this magical place.  It would be hard to get there again as a mother.  However, I still hope to get together with her again.

 


Vacation Time in my Home Country

Author: Liping J.
Level: 5
Instructor: Mona B.

In my home country, China, people usually take a vacation on International Labour Day and National Day.  May 1st is International Labour Day.  October 1st is National Day.  Most people take short trips during these times to places such as Hong Kong, Macon, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.  Most people who live in China travel during these two holidays.  China has many beautiful tourist attractions I have not been to yet.  I will keep working hard to make money.  I plan to retire ahead of schedule and then go travelling where I want to.  China is a great place for tourists.

 


-->