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Hurtful words wound international student

Woman's rush to judgment disturbs international student.

Editor: I am an international student in Langley Fundamental School. As part of our school’s community involvement, we are participating in the well-known 30-Hour Famine for World Vision Canada. In order to make this an effective fundraising event, participants are required to get sponsors who pledge their financial support for our efforts.

I went door-to-door in my upscale Murrayville neighbourhood for pledges. Some politely said “no, I am sorry,” others gave generously. One reaction however has prompted me to write this letter.

I knocked on the door and an older lady opened an upstairs patio door and looked out. She saw me standing there, and before I could even make my pitch for the donation said “No, we don’t want any.” I could have accepted that, but she then turned back into the house and in a voice loud enough for me to hear said to someone inside, “It’s just some Chinese girl and she can’t even speak English.”

My jaw dropped as I heard these words. I have been here for three years learning English. How could she be so judgmental? How could she be so racist?

In the three years I have been here, I knew to expect those sidelong glances one always gets for being a different colour, but I have never been so stereotyped before. She knew I could hear what she was saying and she said it anyway. I turned, and in tears, retreated back to my homestay family’s house.

They asked what was wrong and my tears flowed again. This is Canada. The land of opportunity, diversity, multiculturalism, and I thought acceptance. Clearly there are some who really have no understanding of these concepts.

To the lady on Southridge Crescent who treated me this way, I offer this small piece of advice. Please be more careful what you say to someone at your door.

We may have different coloured skin and we may have a bit more difficulty pronouncing the words of the English language, but we have feelings and words like yours are very hurtful. Please don’t treat strangers this way.

Name withheld  by request

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