I spent some time this week in a Turkish business helping it’s employees work on their conversational English. We just sat and talked for a couple of hours each morning and I often felt like I wasn’t doing anything useful, (we didn’t have a curriculum or any learning goals). I chatted with two lovely ladies; one whom had lived in Canada for 10 years and one who wants to go someday. We talked about everything from how our cultures are different to reality TV shows, to memories of time spent in Canada, to our families and even favourite foods. To me it was just talking, like I do everyday, to them each conversation made the world a little wider.
Understanding English is something I was born doing and learning it has actually come pretty naturally to me. I’ve enjoyed words and reading and writing since as long as I can remember. It’s astounding to think that almost every country in the world has people in it trying to learn English. It is a globally accepted language. To speak English is a gift I take for granted.
I decided I wanted to go to Turkey, bought my plane ticket and was granted a visa to visit Turkey in about 90 seconds. I went to a website, typed in my passport number and seconds later downloaded the visa. Through talking with these ladies I leaned that not every person can leave their country and enter another one as easily as that. I had no idea prior to this trip that there are restrictions on where citizens of certain nations can travel.
I was born a Canadian citizen through no work of my own. I didn’t chose it or earn it. Being a Canadian citizen means I can go anywhere in the world whenever I want to, (with a valid passport) and the process of getting a passport is painless for me, (well maybe not for my wallet, except to have enough money to purchase a passport is in itself a luxury). I am lucky enough to be able to travel the world simply because of the hemisphere I was born in. Freedom to travel the world is something I take for granted.
This has been my first international adventure, and even though I cannot travel willy-nilly around the globe, it is not my passport or citizenship keeping me grounded. And I take that for granted.
Instead I bemoan the price of flights, or lack of vacation days and disposable income.
I am blessed beyond measure and have done so little to earn it; gifts that are so easily taken for granted, freedoms I barely even recognize as having significance. The language I speak and my freedom to travel just to name a few.
I know the freedoms I have were not earned by me, but someone did earn them for me, and I am grateful to have enjoyed them and hope my enjoyment will serve as acknowledgement, and remembrance, for those who made Canada strong and free for me.