From the House I Grew Up In

Saint_John_New_Brunswick_CanadaThose that know me know that I’m from Saint John and actually live in the same house that I grew up in. A self-proclaimed “typical Saint Johner,” I grew up in Saint John, studied in Saint John, and worked in Saint John. My first international experience was, like so many here, a trip to a resort in Cuba. Little did I know that shortly after that trip, my world would change.

About a month after that trip, I was hired at the University of New Brunswick (Saint John campus) in the International Office. They must have really liked what I had to say about the Cuban culture because at that time, that was it for any multicultural experience. I remember on my first day thinking that this was going to be so crazy, working directly with international students, because I didn’t have any multicultural background and, again, had never really left Saint John. By the end of the first day, though, I knew that I had found my passion.

Over the next 7 years, I had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world. I took private lessons in Korean and Mandarin. I attended every multicultural event on campus. I studied and completed my Teaching English as a Second Language certificate and tutored international students. (I still keep in contact with many, including my first student, Yuki from Japan.) I also had the opportunity to travel as part of my job at UNBSJ and I visited 11 countries in two years. I learned so much during this time (including the fact that the world is so small…..after having met a man from Sussex, NB, teaching in Chile!). Although I do not work at UNBSJ anymore, I am still quite close to a number of international students – many of whom have graduated now. Some have moved out of the Province, but many are still in New Brunswick, including Vicky from Kenya who graduated and now works full-time at the Royal Bank.

Through her work, Vicky has met many people who know me (which is not too hard b/c, again, I have been in Saint John all of my life) and she always tells people what I did for HER. Little does she know what SHE has done for me! I continue to learn so much from Vicky and others; my passion for multiculturalism never waivers. And, it is, no doubt, because of my love of international students like Vicky that I took a position – I was one of the first two people hired – to start the Saint John Multicultural and Newcomers Resource Centre, where I still work today.

- Mary in Saint John, NB