By Victor Fru Asongwe
In my mind, considering the history of man's movements around the world, everyone or nearly everyone is a potential wanderer. I was born in Mankon-Bamenda, northwest of Cameroon, where I did my primary, secondary and high school education. From there I moved to Yaoundé University and graduated with a first degree in English Modern Letters. I did business for a year, worked in Douala Sea-Port as an African Security officer for a year, and then got a job as a teacher in Sacred Heart College Douala for seven years. From the year 2000 there was a need for teachers in Asia, so I moved to China in 2003, where I taught English for seven years.
From China, I was admitted to graduate studies at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I obtained a Master’s degree in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Studies. I loved St. John's, and met many friends; all my teachers welcomed me and were very friendly to me. They made me understand that teaching and learning are demonstrated in everyone: the teacher, teaching a student new ideas, is also a potential learner of the student's ideas.
After graduate studies, I decided to go back to China to work, and from there, applied to come back, together with my family, to Canada as a permanent resident. I enjoyed my seven years in China, but we always faced uncertainty when the academic year was coming to an end, as we were never sure of renewing our Visas and having another year's contract.
Canada was an answer to such fears. When we obtained our Visas to travel to Canada for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, we were all very excited. No more yearly renewal of visas, no more fear that we could be asked abruptly to go home, no more mono lingual language (Mandarin) for our son, now in kindergarten.
When we arrived in Montreal, the first thing we noticed was that nearly all the buildings were very short compared to the skyscrapers in China and that there weren’t as many people everywhere. When we arrived on the July 15, 2010, the weather was nice, fresh, sunny, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C, whereas back in China, it was a very hot period. We lived with our nephew for a month and then got our own apartment.
The world of work was another interesting field to settle into. After attending adaptation classes and getting called for a few interviews, I got a job with a good schedule. Maybe not my career job, but I was happy, and I could make it on time to pick up my son from daycare in the afternoon. I worked with Dollarama warehouse for about four months before obtaining another job with a financial service, in the position of a collector. Work here was not physical, but mentally exhausting as many customers would get upset with me when I called them to remind them of their debt payments.
I worked with this company for about two and a half years and then decided to go back to school for an M.A. in Teaching and Learning at McGill University. This was a 15-month crash program. I obtained 25 credits and had a number of hurdles with my co-teacher during my internship. I left the internship and finished my other credits in the classroom. I did not finish with the full program but put in a request for a teaching permit from the Ministry of Education. The Ministry required me to get a contract from a school before they would grant me a teaching permit.
At the same time, while looking for a contract, I was helping students in Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, in Longueil. Not long after, I had another opportunity to go back to China for a business trip. I had long been interested in the fashion business and while there I bought some wholesale articles and shipped them to Montreal. I had prepared a business plan, looked for a business space, and contacted the various administrative offices for starting up a business.
Today I am happy to be a business owner in Canada, running Boutique Vicky Show Biz in Montreal, serving the population of Lachine and people from other cities. I am using knowledge obtained as a classroom teacher to educate the community on formal dressing standards and offering other services like photocopying, photography, high-speed internet services for passers-by, just to mention a few. I am exploring different global markets, like timber exploration in Cameroon, for example, to create jobs as well as boost both economies.
My stay in Canada is a happy one. Education and science can shorten distances among nations and together we can be one. I remain a teacher, though not in the classroom but in the community, where I help people from different walks of life boost their ideas. Success, in other words, is happiness and the freedom of achieving what you enjoy. Just like so many people in the new world, I am a wanderer, and I make my home where I find life comfortable.
Africans in China: Cultural research about Africans in Guangzhou, and beyond – Roberto Catillo's blog (PhD, Cultural Studies)
Exploring Environmental and Cultural Issues in Teaching – Victor Fru Asongwe (Academic paper submitted to Dr. Gerald White)