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


My Friend's Life Story

Author: Hafizul I.
Level: 7
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

I would like to talk about one of my friends in Bangladesh. I had many friends in my school life. I always remember this friend because he traveled a lot in his life. I have known him since we were children. We were in the same school from kindergarten through university. When my friend and I were in middle school, his father died. My friend's family wasn't financially secure. After his father died, he, his younger sister and their mom had no income. When their father was alive, the mother was a housewife. She was educated, that's why she did not stop her kids studying after their father had died. We finished school, college and we graduated together. That's how I knew my friend and his family for so many years. He had a dream that he would finish his highest degree. He was a good student but he could not finish his higher degree because of a lack of money. Then he stopped his studies and he tried to do something for their family for fast financial support. He tried knocking on doors, but it was hard finding a job in our country. Many days later he got a job for minimum wage. It was better than nothing. It was not like what his education prepared him for, but he had made a promise to support his younger sister's studies and their family's survival. Their family were living hand to mouth. When I think about his terrible life, I get sad.

This is not the end of my friend's life story. A few months later, his mom got sick and he couldn't buy enough medical help for her. After a few days, his mom got sicker and after a few more days, his mom died. Everyone has some good things and some bad things in their life but I didn't see any good thing in his life at that time, always his life was like a dark jungle.

However, these days, he does have a job and he is married with two sons. I talk to him as much as I can. We laugh about the times we had when we were kids. He has had a happy ending!!!


My Life as An Immigrant

Author: Aurora C.
Level: 6
Instructor: Priyanka S.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

It was in November 2008 that my sons and I came to Canada. I was grateful and feeling so blessed that the opportunity was given to me to be reunited with my husband who came here in February the same year. I left my country with a heavy heart knowing that I will not be seeing my family and friends for years. But I was also excited to start a new life in a different part of the world.

Like other immigrants who were starting their lives in a foreign land, life did not come easy for me. Living in a tropical country for most of my life, the very cold winter and snow did not become so exciting for me. There were those extremely cold days that I did not want to go out of the house. Communicating with the local people was a bit of a challenge. Expressing yourself in a language not your native tongue was difficult. Although I comprehended and wanted to respond, I just chose to say nothing because I could not grasp appropriate words to express my ideas. But the greatest challenge I faced was the change in my daily routine and the kind of jobs that I worked, from going to work regularly everyday to staying home to look after the kids. And since I could only work when my husband came home from work, I had no other options but to take janitorial jobs.

We have been here for 12 years now. So many things have changed and so are the ways I look at things now. I have now learned to embrace everything around me and my family. We have become friends with everyone in the community. I took some programs the government has for immigrants to help them cope up with their lives here including the English Language program. And I am incredibly happy with my job because of the friendly people I am working with.



Why I love Canada

Author: Gurvinder S.
Level: 4
Instructor: Priyanka S.
Photo Credit:

canada flag with sun shining through

I love Canada for various reasons. I like this country because every work is done by law here. The weather here is very good in summer. It is very good place for enjoying vacations. Corruption is extremely low than other countries. Here all the facilities are available in every small town for example- hospital, gas station, fire brigades, shopping stores, school, and police. In Canada, all schools have big playgrounds for playing games. We can get good education here. Canada has good relations with all countries. The traffic rules are particularly good. Every person follows the rules. I am happy to be here.



Vietnamese New Year's

Author: Nhung L.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

vietnam flag

There are 54 groups of nations in Vietnam. The largest group of people which is 90% of the nation is Kinh Vietnamese. Every year, we have some holidays. However, the biggest holiday is Happy New Year 's day. There are over 2 weeks to celebrate together, visit home and travel with family to different places. There are 3 days to have fun at the beginning of the new year. People prepare foods, flowers and decorate everything in the house inside and outside for about 3 weeks. On the first day, at 12 pm there are a lot of places having fireworks. Young people usually go out to go to see the fireworks or hang out together. Old people usually stay at home and prepare some biscuits, candies and flowers. All of them are put on the table where they also put some pictures of ancestors to remember them.

In the morning, they go to have meetings in the community place. People stand up to see the flag and remember who died in the war. There is a moment of peace at 7:00 a.m.  They start visiting their families around the neighborhood. On the second days, they still visit together, hang out and meet. However, they never forget to prepare delicious foods to remember their ancestors and enjoy it after that. On the third day, people continue to have fun.  Finally, they go to work again after 4 days off. 

In Canada, the biggest holiday is Christmas. People also prepare some foods before that day for about 2 weeks and invite friends or their family comes to visit.. They go to church to celebrate, visit and have fun together. However, they don't prepare food to remember their ancestors like the people in Vietnam do. 




Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: Alexei Logvinovich / 123RF Stock Photo

man grocery shopping in mask and gloves

The virus has changed our community. 

How has the virus changed people’s lives?

A lot of people have lost their jobs. Businesses have gone down and lost a lot of money. Everything is quiet. Many stores and restaurants are closed. People cannot go outside often and see their friends and family. It can affect people’s health. Many people have depression staying at home. Many families are arguing a lot because they are around each other all day. I am bored at work because the work is very slow right now but I am happy for the work and would love to retire early!

What is still the same?

My husband and I are still busy working but some businesses are going down because a lot of people don’t have money to spend right now.


I am worried about the freshness and quantity of fruit and vegetables that will be available in the future (import and export). I have heard that beef may also become very expensive.


Some people don’t mind this situation because they don’t like to go out a lot, like me! Some people are enjoying the relaxing time at home away from work and with family. People have more time to do things, like cooking, watching TV, exercising and reading. Some people like the quietness outside because they can go for a walk or a run and it is peaceful.

I hope this virus goes away soon!


Here's what needs to happen before we can all get vaccinated for COVID-19

Author: Mireille G.
Level: 7
Instructor: Inara M.
Photo Credit: SHINYA SATOU / 123RF Stock Photo

covid-19 corona virus syring vaccine

Research source: https://www.cbc.ca/news

Everywhere on Earth there is a race to develop a Covid19 vaccine. It is the only way the population can return to a normal life. The two main questions are on how and when we will have the vaccine. To answer the question “when”, is going to be difficult. The experts have different opinions. The World Health Organization said eighteen months. The United States thinks it will take twelve to eighteen months. Europe asserts that if we are lucky we can have one in one year.

The second question is how we will be developing the vaccine. The World Health Organization said there are 110 organizations who are in preclinical evaluation and 8 are in phase 1 or 2 trials. In Canada, Halifax is in phase 1. They are developing a vaccine by introducing the immune system to a germ or a piece of germ in order for our immune system to fight it.  It is important to understand the 4 steps to find a vaccine.

Preclinical evaluation

After the vaccine shows good results in the laboratory, it is time to test on animals to check if it is safe and effective. Usually, this phase takes three to six months. Afterwards, it is time to work with humans because the animals differ from humans.
Phase 1
It involves 10 to 100 humans. This phase studies:

  • The safety
  • Effectiveness
  • Side effects
  • Dose versus side effects

Phase 2
It involves several hundred people. They work on:

  • The most common side effects
  • How the immune system responds
  • The optimal dose to give and when to give it

Phase 3
It involves a lot of volunteers up of 30,000 of all ages Their key questions are:

  • Is it effective?
  • Is the dose correct?
  • Is it safe?
  • What’s the most common side effect?
  • Which people can’t have it?

It can last years. Health care providers must report all problems to Health Canada. At any time, Health Canada can ask for more research. In Canada, it is Health Canada’s Biologic and Radiopharmaceutical drugs directorate who will approve the vaccine. However, Health Canada, due to a pandemic, can give authorization for vaccines which are not approved in Canada.

I am wondering if more than a vaccine will be ready at the same time. Then, we will need to choose which one we will use. I hope Canada will find one at the same time as other countries. In this case, it will be easier for Canada to produce enough vaccines for all Canadians.


Some thoughts about the pandemic of COVID-19

Author: Xiuzhuan M.
Level: 7
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

vial with covid test

2020 is destined to be the most differentiated in human being’s history. An unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19 has changed the whole world this spring. The world seems like a speeding train was stopped suddenly, and a vivid world was muted. Even though some countries claim to have reopened, the world we got used to cannot return as before.

The first change we will talk about is the economy. Because the shutdown limits the virus’ spread, I think there are many changes happening in the economy, such as economic recession, business model change, working remotely, the stop of globalization, and more and more dependence on the domestic market. IMF’s projection in April for a 3% contraction, the global economy would mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. To contain the spread of COVID-19, most countries have taken shutdown measurements which break the supply chain and stop tourism and aviation industries. The unemployment rate has had a historic soar and US stock has had a four-time meltdown in ten days.  This shows us how serious the economic recession is. The governments and businessman must cope with the change to their supply chain, their business model and workplace. Before the pandemic, globalization is the trend, the global supply chain is commonly used to reduce the cost and pursue the biggest profit. Now, some countries have been urging their companies to withdraw their overseas investments to create local supply chains and employment, like America and Japan, to protect the domestic economy. During the early period of the pandemic, the American government forbad face mask exports to Canada. Lots of comments said we should build our own plant to produce masks in Canada. Therefore, I think it is the reversing of globalization. Businessmen are getting accustomed to the present circumstance to change their business models. Thus, more and more online business models will come out. Remote work will be a trend. The twitter CEO claimed that its thousands of employees will work from home forever, which will save office costs and commuting time.  

The second aspect is society. During the pandemic, governments become more conservative, and racism is increasing. Some countries stop immigration or reduce it. At the same time, there are more and more racial incidents happening to immigrants. Some Asian people were hurt on the street or their houses were destroyed in Toronto.  Unfortunately, the police did not take right measures to show their opinion on the racism to make it deteriorate. Some politicians, for their own purpose, set off racial contradictions between different ethnicities, instead of focusing on constraining the spread of the virus and the innovation of a vaccine. The fatal rates are just a number for them, they never think one number means a broken family. What they care about is how to distract people from concentrating on their failures of protecting the voters’ health. We should believe scientists’ research not politicians’ speeches. In addition, we should believe that everybody is equal before God and create realistic laws whatever his/her ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, etc. No one has the right to discriminate against others. All of us should be alert to the resurgence of racism.

The third is the change in our lifestyle. The pandemic is changing our lifestyle from work to our routine life. From the pandemic, some employers acknowledge that employees must not work on site, but instead, work from home. Additionally, there are more online business models appearing, so people will work in a new way. The pandemic makes us shop online, meet friends and relatives with online applications, such as Zoom, WeChat, even hosting online wedding. In addition, social distance will be a new etiquette in the community. Remote studying will be another change if the virus cannot be stopped. Some universities state that online study will continue in the fall semester. Furthermore, the pandemic is a warning for us to think about our lifestyle, our relations with nature. We must live in a more environmentally friendly way, treating animals, and all other creatures as equal to us, because human beings are only one species of the earth.  Nature is dominant, not human beings.

I pray God will give us wisdom to figure out what is right, what we should follow, and let us believe science and find a way to live in a better manner with nature.



Volunteering is one of beautiful Canadian cultures I have learned.

Author: Kiuyan M.
Level: 6
Instructor: Olga P.
Photo Credit: Jaromir Chalabala / 123RF Stock Photo

group of volunteers stacking hands

Volunteering is one of beautiful Canadian cultures I have learned.

I lived in Vancouver when I first came to Canada.  After my son was born, I always took him to the local library.  There were a lot of programs run by volunteers.  One of our favourite programs was the sing-along for toddles.  We could sing and read with other mums and babies together.  It was a very good time.  At that time, I discovered more and more about volunteers’ programs in Canada. 

It is amazing how the volunteers can run the program in a very systematic way.  Each volunteer works his/her field of interest. You can choose to do whatever you feel you are capable of. If you feel you can carry out the duty of Manager or Secretary, you can be one of them if the rest of the volunteering team agrees.  All you need to do is to spend your time, follow guidelines and complete your jobs.  Sometimes you may need to complete some online training.

Few years ago, I volunteered as a Youth Sunday School Teacher, and I enjoyed it. During the class, we had some ice breaker game. Besides, I spent my time at church. I attended the regular meetings for the school committee parent group, the cadets parent group, and the school band parent group. In the parent groups, you can get to know how to raise funds for your projects to help your kids to learn or go on the yearly overseas trip.  My participation in the parents group helped my kid to understand how much I care about him.

After my Cancer treatment, I started to coach the junior boy basketball team in the high school from last November until March this year. I enjoy spending my time to arrange some activities for kids. It is very meaningful to me. I feel satisfied to see the kids grow and learn. It is a good return when you do not get paid, and it is a good healing after you have been sick for a long time. It is the best medicine.

I encourage everyone to be a volunteer, it is not only helping others, and it is also helping yourself to have joy when you are able to make things happen.  I feel I am not limited with my grades or my qualifications.  I am proud of being a Canadian.


Why am I a volunteer?

Author: Alisa H.
Level: 5
Instructor: Ivan J.
Photo Credit: rakratchada / 123RF Stock Photo

voluneers hand up

A volunteer is a person who makes the world a little better and kinder. This is  a person who gives his time, emotions, and help, and he does not take payment for it. You may wonder, why are you doing this then?!

My first experience as a volunteer was in Ukraine. When I was 14 years old, I became a member of the organization of the “Youth Parliament” in my hometown. This is an organization of young  volunteers who organize cultural events for orphans and the elderly. I liked when we organized actions and collected gifts for children. And even more, I liked to see smiles on their faces when they received a toy that had long been dreamed of. I’m also happy that I have made many friends there who share my life principles.

As soon as I moved to Canada, I thought how could I be useful to people in this country?! Soon, I met a good woman who invited me to become a volunteer at a local school. Of course, I agreed and it was a great time with the children for me. It was fun dancing, to play singing songs, dressing, and helping to do the crafts. It was a good English experience for me, too. I met there many wonderful people who helped me adapt to a new country.

Last year, I received a first aid license, so my next step in volunteering will be to accept membership in the Red Cross. I do it because I get joyful emotions, gratitude, and smiles on people's faces and it makes me happy. I think that in the world there are many people and animals who need love, help and care, and if we have the opportunity to give them a piece of our kindness, why not do it?!



Continuous Learning

Author: Yevhenii H.
Level: 7
Instructor: Ivan J.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

learning on keyboard close up

According to a variety of researches on the resume-writing topic, it’s essential to learn continuously. More and more job postings include continuous learning requirements and it’s completely understandable - an employer wants to see a person with initiative who also integrates and is intelligent. The importance of regularly updating your knowledge in different areas lies in a persistent knowledge flow through your mind that helps you to be in trend and develops you as a person.

There are a couple of ways of learning new things: self-learning or getting an appropriate course in one of the hundreds of online educating platforms. It is easier to get a premade course online (once in a while you’ll be able to get one for free) but sometimes you just can’t find the proper course for your needs. In the worst-case scenario, you hardly even find information about a relevant topic because it is so specific but, as we know, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

From my point of view, there are some advantages and disadvantages in self-learning or getting an online course. First, an online course is usually a set of a few videos that cover the topic, which is good, but you don’t have a real conversation with a teacher, which means that you are not able to ask questions immediately but have to send an email or some sort of message and put your question to the teacher. Second, if you choose to look up all the information you need by yourself, it takes a lot of time and effort to do so, but in rewards, you get the right portion of information you need, filling the gap and you’re happy!

To conclude, continuous learning is extremely important these days and requires a person to put some effort in self-educating. In return, though, it gives you a leg up in finding a better job, new opportunities to succeed in your career and possibly to be promoted, and to get a raise or enhanced working conditions. Be rest assured that the effort is worth the reward.



Finding a Job in Canada

Author: Julio T.
Level: 7
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

find a job - maple leaf on keyboard

Current job

Right now, my job involves using several different types of equipment for a hydraulic equipment supplier company.  It also involves manufacturing steel components for piston cylinders by reading blueprints using precision machinery to manufacture them.

Personal story

When I first started looking for a job in Canada, I searched online for Canadian companies that had jobs in my field of work. Unfortunately, not many companies were interested in sponsoring a skilled worker but a friend of mine told me about a company in Saskatchewan that might be able to help. So, I called the company (where I’m working now) to see if they could sponsor me and, within a few days, the company sent me a job offer.


My advice to newcomers is to think very hard about what your expectations are for your new job.  What are your goals?  What do the roles and responsibilities in the job you are looking for consists of? For example, how many hours per week will they require you to work? What are the benefits they offer? Check the national rate of pay for your profession. Also, if you’re coming from a foreign country, consider the temperature of each season in a year. In addition, research the obligations and responsibilities you will have as a resident in the province you are thinking about moving to because these obligations and responsibilities vary from one province to another.




Author: Yujene O.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

dog playing on bed

Pets or companion animals provide their owners both physical and emotional benefits. The most popular pets are dogs and cats. The most important things to remember when you are thinking of taking in a pet are that you have the required suitable housing and that there is adequate ownership. Although my daughters have always wanted a dog or a cat, we lack suitable housing.  We worry that if we were to travel abroad, the pet(s) would ruin the carpet, which is all over our house. That’s why we decided to just get a small pet, a hamster.
Having a hamster is economical and it is easier to take care of if you live in a small place. It is also easier to find a friend willing to take care of it for a while if you can’t. Besides, the stuff a hamster needs is tiny and cute. Also, it is very easy to find resources to learn about how to raise hamster. Anybody over five years old can learn about owning a hamster through online resources or pet shops. The rules are very simple. Before we got two hamsters for our two daughters, my husband I taught our girls about the rules and responsibilities of owners. The rules and responsibilities are as follow:

  1. Clean the room in which the hamsters sleep.
  2. Fill their water bottles.
  3. Play with them at least once a day.
  4. Do not be mean to them.
  5. Love them.

Fortunately, my girls are keeping up with the rules and responsibilities we have given them; the hamsters are loved by the whole family. I remember a funny story I would like to share with you. Our hamsters’ names are Nashville and Snowy. They were only two weeks old when they came to live with us and smaller than our six-year-old girl’s hand. They were just babies! They were so active and could slip out of our hands easily. They even tried to escape their cage. They climbed up and nibbled on the cage. One morning, when we opened the room, Snowy’s cage was open and we couldn’t see her. She had finally managed to escape her cage!! Although we tried to find Snowy once we realized she had disappeared, we couldn’t. We blamed the structure of Canadian houses (they have too many doors)!
We waited for her to reappear for three days. Then, we worried about whether she was alive or dead and prayed that she was alive wherever she might be!! After we realized she was truly gone, we had period of mourning for two weeks. Then my daughter got another Snowy. Now this Snowy is bigger than her hand and we always check the cage every night. Checking to make sure the cage of the door is locked has become one of the rules!! 
Be careful of a pet trying to escape!!


Learning to do Housework

Author: Irene R.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

top view of couple doing dishes

Children should do housework and it is better to start learning at a young age. My daughters help me out with doing chores. They know how to clean and organize their rooms. They help me do the laundry, clean the backyard, vacuum the floors, etc.  They also like to cook and bake. Right now, we are having fun at home, especially when we make cookies together, because we use different kinds of designs to shape our cookies, such as shapes, numbers and letters so it’s also educational!

I also have a 3-year-old son who enjoys helping me doing chores. He always says, “I want to help you.” He helps me put clothes in the washing machine, sweeps the floor with his tiny broom and dustpan, and is responsible for putting his toys back in the right place.

As a parent, I make a list of chores that they need to do. I know teaching kids to do chores is not easy. It requires enthusiasm and patience. There’s nothing better than letting kids do chores, especially if they interested. Always encourage them and always value their help.  

Learning chores at a young age teaches them valuable life skills about sharing responsibility and about helping others.



Do you think computers make life easier?

Author: Mariana K.
Level: 7
Instructor: Tanya B.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

laptop person online shopping

We live in the age of information where the computer has become an integral part of people's lives, without which it is impossible to imagine such a life. Thanks to the computer technologies, we can do almost everything without leaving our homes. Personal computers for residents of many countries of the world have become familiar home appliances, just like a phone or a TV. This is a notebook, an accountant and translator, a home teacher, a movie theater, and a communications device.

The existence of computers and the Internet has opened up new opportunities for us, and one of the most important of these is quick and effective access to information. We can make purchases on the Internet, chat with friends, see them, get the opportunity to share fun events on Facebook pages and read our friends' stories.

We use a computer not only at home, but also at work, because it greatly facilitates it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine a field of activity in which computers are not used. From efficient data storage and easy access and sharing of information, to medical tests and simulations of complex surgical procedures, computers play an important role in the field of medicine. All banking and financial transactions are carried out on a computer. We see computers in the grocery store and among the books in the library. Computers help us at home and at work and simply make our lives much easier.

Thank you,



Author: Lesia P.
Level: 7
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

healthcare worker

I would like to compare the healthcare system in my homeland with the healthcare system in Canada. To me, they are totally different. When I first arrived in Canada, it was a little bit difficult to adapt to the new system and rules for me.

In Ukraine, people have family doctors similar to the family doctors in Canada but they have less knowledge when they are dealing with their patients. In Ukraine, doctors know how to check your chest when you care coughing but not all of them know how to check your ears, eyes, heart, etc. Usually, there are pediatricians for kids under the age of 18. Doctors treat adults children separately and are available in different clinics and hospitals. Each doctor has the addresses of his patients.  If you live at a certain address, you have to go to a certain doctor who observes you in that postal code. Also, in Ukraine there are lots of private clinics and anybody who wishes to go there can go and see any doctor for additional money.

In addition, if you are sick and not able to go to the clinic, you can call the clinic and ask for a doctor’s visit in your home. This option is available for both adults and kids. If you ask for a doctor from a government clinic, his visit to your home will be for free. If you need to see a specialist, you do not require a referral from a family doctor and you do not need to wait months to have an appointment with one.

In Canada, you have to call ahead before visiting a family doctor. Family doctors will help you with many health issues but, if you need to see a specialist, you must have a referral. Without a referral, you can’t see a specialist or do the medical tests you need. You can’t see your results without seeing a doctor first.

In Ukraine you can choose any medical test for a fee and do it anytime. You get the results quickly; usually, people keep them on their computers or keep the printed version somewhere at home. Then, you can decide by yourself what kind of doctor you would prefer to see.

I would also like to talk a bit about the emergency systems in both countries. In Ukraine, if you call for an ambulance for a government-funded hospital, it will be free. Usually there is a doctor in the ambulance to help. In Canada, this option is available for a fee.

The biggest differences between the healthcare systems in Ukraine and Canada are that in Canada, the healthcare system is fully controlled by the government. Any medical tests you are given are saved in a file under your name in your province’s electronic medical system. Whether you have some kind of emergency or just go in to the doctor’s for a regular medical check-up, any doctor can pull up all of your information and medical history in your file. There is just one thing that I wish was better in Canada. It would be great if we had more doctors and specialists available in order to decrease wait times and wait lists.  Sometimes, you have to wait for over a year to see a specialist.

In Ukraine, we don’t have as great an electronic system in healthcare as we do in Canada. Patients keep most medical test results, prescriptions and recommendations on paper or in very private e-mails set up at home. So, they can be easily lost or damaged. Last year, Ukraine took a few very important steps to improve their healthcare system. I believe that these steps will be successful in achieving the intended results. I think that it is very important for the country to develop and improve their healthcare system for their citizens.



Poppy Buns/Rolls

Author: Iryna Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Ivan J.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

Freshly baked homemade rye buns with poppy seeds and a glass of milk on a wooden table in rustic style

If you like tasty traditional treats, then you came to the right place. Poppy seed buns/rolls are very popular in Europe, particularly among Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Russians, Lithuanians, Slovaks, Czechs and Slovenians. They are usually prepared at Christmas time and New Year's to bring prosperity to the coming year. Poppy seed buns/rolls are known as makowiec in Poland, mákos bejgli in Hungary, bulochki s makom in Russian, makovýzávin in the Czech Republicm, makovníkin Slovakiaa, aguonųvyniotinis in Lithuaniam.

Poppy seed buns/rolls is a great dessert for the holidays, especially Christmas and Easter.

I love their taste and enjoy baking them, which is why I wanted to share the recipe with you so that you, too, can try this delicious treat. 

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 180 ml of warm milk
  • 150g butter (melt and cool)
  • 6 yolks
  • 10g of dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons of alcohol, (vodka)
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dissolve the yeast in warm milk with 1 tablespoon of sugar and leave for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, yeast, salt, sugar.

Combine the milk with yeast and the dry ingredients, then add oil and alcohol.

Knead the dough, then put it into a stand mixer and add the melted butter(cooled).

Leave the dough in a warm place for 1 hour.

Separate the dough into 2-3 parts. Roll it out into a rectangle. Spread the poppy filling and roll it. Then cut it into small buns like cinnamon buns or you can bake it whole (like bread). 

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 360 F. 

Poppy filling:

  • 300-400g poppies
  • 200g sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 200g milk

Rinse the poppy seeds in water.

Add milk to a small pan and boil the poppy seeds on low heat.

Stir occasionally. Keep at a low boil for 1:00-1:30 hours. The milk should evaporate completely.

Take it off heat and cool it.

Put it in a food processor and blend it into a paste.

Whip egg whites with sugar, so that it forms peaks.

Add this egg white and sugar mixture to the poppy seed paste.


The most popular street food is Toppoki (Spicy Rice Cake).

Author: Sooeun L.
Level: 4
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: photodee / 123RF Stock Photo

Rice cake isolated white background Korean food

Ingredients (for 2 persons):

  • 300g of rice cake
  • 100g of fish cake
  • 2 slices of cabbage
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 boiled eggs

Seasoning Mix:

  • 200ml of water
  • 1+1/2 tbsp. of red pepper paste
  • 2 tbsp. of red pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of corn syrup
  • Some ground black pepper

How to cook:

  • Soak the rice cake in water for a while then drain before getting started.
  • Mix all the seasonings.
  • Cut the fish cake, slice the cabbage and the green onion.
  • Peel the boiled eggs.
  • Heat up the pot and put the seasoning mix in and boil it.
  • Add rice cakes, fish cakes and cabbage.
  • When it starts boiling, boil over medium heat until it gets thickened.
  • Add sliced green onion and peeled eggs, then boil all of them for 2 to 3 minutes.


Ukrainian Easter Cake (Kulich or Paska)

Author: Alla N.
Level: 7
Instructor: Ivan J.
Photo Credit: Alla N.

Bakhchysarai, Crimea - June 9, 2016: The architecture of the Crimean Tatar Khans Palace.

Easter cake is one of the main dishes on Easter in Ukraine. It has a couple of names and many recipe varieties. The main ingredients are the same, but the result can be different. Moist or dry, with spices or not, Easter Kulich is the favorite dessert on Easter. I still remember how my mom baked them, how we decorated and couldn’t wait to taste them after consecration in the church. A very nice tradition in Ukraine is to share Kuliches with friends and relatives. This way we can taste different Kuliches and find a favorite one for ourselves. My favorite Kulich was made by my best friend, sister by heart, Julia. The moist and not too sweet Kulich with raisins and cinnamon. The portion is big; you can feed a family of 6-7 people. If you do no need too many, use only a half of the recipe. Let’s start!


The dough:

  • ½ liter milk
  • 1+ ½ cups sugar
  • 250 grams margarine
  • 50 grams moist yeast ( or 17 grams dry yeast)
  • 200 grams sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs and 3 yolks
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 1 tea spoon cinnamon
  • 200 grams raisins
  • 2 table spoons vanilla extract
  • 5-6 cups wheat flour
  • Kulich forms ( can buy at Easter time at Ukrainians stores)

The Icing:

  • 6 table spoons water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tea spoon gelatin


Can use sprinkles or dried fruits, raisins, nuts.


Preparing the dough: Mix milk and sugar, put to heat and stir. Heat and stir the mix until sugar melt, but don’t boil. Remove from the stove and add margarine, leave to cool. Add yeast, sour cream, oil, yolks and eggs, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, 2 cups of flour, mix and leave for 40 min. in warm place. The dough will grow in 2-3 times, mix and leave for 40 min. in warm place again. Put raisins in boiled water, leave for 10 min., then dry in a towel. Mix the dough again, add 2 more cups of flour, mix. Knead the dough on the table with flour until it stops to stick to the hands. Stretch the dough a little bit, put raisins on it and knead again. Cut the dough into the pieces, which will fill 2/3 of the forms, leave in the warm place until the dough will grow to the top of the forms. Move the forms into the heated to 325F oven and bake 40-50 min. The tops should grow and be brown. Let them cool.

Preparing the icing: Mix 1 cup of sugar and 4 table spoons of water. Heat and mix until sugar melts, remove from the stove. Mix gelatin and 2 table spoons of water, leave for 10 min. Take sugar with water and start whipping, when it becomes white with strong structure add the gelatin and whip a little bit more. Omit tops of the Kuliches in icing and circle, decorate when the icing is still soft. The icing will be firm in 2-3 hours. Enjoy Kuliches with your family and friends with a hot cup of tea or coffee.




Author: Wang (Angel) W.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: deklofenak / 123RF Stock Photo

Yellow tennis ball at the net on the court

There are different kinds of exercise activities. Comparing running, yoga etc, playing ball with others is the most fascinating for me because it is full of competition. I used to play table tennis and badminton in China. After migrating to Saskatoon, the prairies province of Canada, I surprisingly found there is a tennis court near my apartment. I am at the onset of learning how to play tennis.

It is not easy to hit the ball and pass it over the net at first. Following my friend’s instruction, I started to hit the ball on the board and gradually change the gestures of my wrist, which I had never used in badminton. After a couple of months of practicing, I can play tennis with my son, even though we are still lacking skill. It is not only the colorful scenery of summer we can enjoying during this exercise but also watching other experts’ skillful and smooth movements deeply interests us.

During the long winter, we can’t play tennis outside so we had been anticipating the coming of spring. What was unexpected was the outbreak of coronavirus, which has lasted till now and means the courts can’t open. I am eager that the pandemic will past quickly, then I can work out by playing tennis under the sky.




Author: Oksana S.
Level: 7
Instructor: Nodira I.
Photo Credit: Viktoriya Podgornaya / 123RF Stock Photo

Water Park Banana Republic, Evpatoria, Crimea, Russia. June 18, 2018. Banana Republic water Park on a summer day.

Summer comes and I start missing my hometown Evpatoria more and more. In winter Evptoria is not very different from the town in which I live now, except the weather, of course. Winters in Evpatoria are much warmer than in Wadena, a town where I live now. However, with the advent of heat, Evpatoria comes to life as if waking up from hibernation.

Tourists appear on the streets: some of them come to escape from busy lives and routine for a change of scenery, while others come for getting treatment. There are also travelers interested in the history of this 2500 years’ old ancient and gorgeous resort town. Each and every tourist will find different types of entertainment.

One of the modern landmarks of Euvpatoria is The Banana Republic Aquaparkos. This water park built in Latin American style has about 30 modern attractions and no wonder is a very popular attraction. The amusement park, in which several dinosaurs and pterodactyls live, is especially famous among younger guests and residents of Evpatoria.

For lovers of extreme adventures in the city, there is a Kariza dungeon. It is a real underground city, but it is very difficult to get into it: the only possible entrance is located near the main farm market. Besides, nine theaters operate in Evpatoria which offer a wide variety of theatrical performances. This list includes children's theaters, puppet theaters and musical theaters. The actors of the live sculpture theater entertain the local people and guests of the city in its streets and squares. A theater with actors on stilts, or a giant show is the country's only stilt ballet, featuring a vibrant, unique program. The actors of the theater of fire "Wolfram" perform fire shows and mind-blowing stunts.

There is a dolphinarium in Evpatoria where you can swim with dolphins. Aquarium is also a widely known attraction in the city. In July 2014, a new aquapark “Aqualand at Lukomorye” which is considered to be the largest in the Crimea was opened in Evpatoria.

Near Evpatoria there are the most valuable lakes - estuaries containing brine - this is a highly concentrated salt solution with strong medicinal qualities. These are lakes of Otar-Moinaki, Yaly-Moinaki and Sasyk-Sivash. Moinak clinic is famous for its unique source of healing with the help of mineral water. On the territory of Evpatoria, there are active mineral springs in four places. The main and the oldest of such mineral springs is located on the central street of the city - Frunze Street.
In Evpatoria, a lot is being done to promote a healthy lifestyle and bicycle transport. For this reason, tourist cycling routes are established, and facilities are being built to serve the bicycle infrastructure, for example, bike rental points, bike maintenance shops and others.

People in Evpatoria are very friendly and sociable. They even try to communicate with aliens. You don’t believe it? Next to Evpatoria, there is an antenna space communication complex RT-70 through which periodic signals are sent to extraterrestrial civilizations.
I can write a lot about Evpatoria, but it's better to see it all yourself.


My Trip to Cuba

Author: Viktoriia H.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

beach in cuba

I went to Cuba with my husband at the end of November. We decided to go to Cuba because Cuba reminds us of the Soviet Union where we were born and where we had our childhood. I really enjoyed seeing a lot of old cars and buses from my childhood. I was surprised that all these vehicles are still in good condition.

When we walked out of the airport, we felt the warm air and could smell the sea. We took a bus to Varadero, which took us to the hotel, which was by the beach. When we got to the hotel we got a nice room, from which we could see the pool and the beach.

The next day we went to Havana, the capital city of Cuba. We spent all day in the city. We visited the quarter in Old Havana and saw the churches, historic forts, cultural plazas and the famous Ernest Hemmingway museum. We went to Hemingway's favourite bar and had a mojito. Then we took a vintage American car to tour New Havana. We visited famous historical sites such as Revolution Square where their national hero, Che Guevara, made history. After the tasty supper at the Cuban restaurant, we went to see the spectacular cannon shooting ceremony when the city closes its gates. Havana has old architecture which was built by the Spanish.

The next day we went on a catamaran cruise for the day. We went along the coast of Varadero to visit a dolphin sanctuary and Cayo Blanco in the marvelous   Sabana Archipelago. I had a swim with dolphins, they are so cute. My husband went snorkeling under the water, he could see the amazing coral reefs. When the catamaran docked at Cayo Blanco, we walked along the small island’s famous white-sand beaches. We enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch by the coast. When we came back on the catamaran we had a lot of fun, we danced,  laughed and enjoyed the cruise. There was Cuban music and dancing everywhere.

Cuba has nice sunshine, warm weather, and beautiful sea. I felt the warmth of the sand and the sun. The beach and sea were clean and quiet, so I enjoyed swimming in it.

It was a wonderful but short trip.


Compare the season in your Homeland to Canada

Author: Raul P.
Level: 5
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

collage of different seasons

Saltillo Coahuila, Mexico. Is a city which has 4 seasons:  Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

The winter starts on the 21st of December with the temperatures of -4C to 20C and everybody enjoys Christmas.

The spring starts on the 21st of March with the Temperatures of 20C to 30C. It is when the flowers come out.

The summer starts on the 21st of June with the temperatures of 30C to 40C.  It’s a great time to go swimming and drink lots of water.

The Fall starts on the 21st of September with the temperatures decreasing to 25C to 30C. It’s a nice time to relax and see all the leaves fall from the trees and enjoy some fresh air.

Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, Canada is a wonderful city.

The city has 4 seasons:  Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

The Winter starts on the 21st of December with the temperatures of 0 C to  -40C. Even in these temperatures everybody enjoys Christmas and snow is everywhere.
The Spring starts on the 21st of March with temperatures of -20C to 15C.The snow starts to melt slowly and everything gets very wet. The sky gets clearer and the sun shines more.

The summer starts on the 21st of June with temperatures around 20C to 35C.It’s a beautiful time to go outside and do some activities like biking, walking, etc.
The Fall starts around September 21st and it’s a really nice time to see all the leaves change colour and slowly start to fall. The temperatures are between 15C to 25C.
I like both cities and both cities have good seasons, but it’s a little cold in Canada.