I want to say something about somebody who changed my life. I started a new job six weeks ago. I had been off work for the previous for five months and the job I held before that was difficult for me. So when I started at the new job, I was in a bit of a mess, emotionally wise. I hadn't used my brain for five months and it definitely showed. My confidence in myself wasn't the greatest. I was lonely, scared and overwhelmed, emotions I don't like feeling this late in life. The day after I started, someone else started in the work station next to me. She was there on a six week placement. When I was introduced to her, I had a sinking feeling inside. She was a traditional Muslim woman who had moved to our country from the mid-east three years ago and didn't speak English very well. She wore traditional Muslim clothes with the head covering; sorry I don't know what it's called. I thought I would have nothing in common with my nearest coworker. I have worked with Muslim women in the past, but they have spent most of their lives in Canada and were quite used to our customs and ways. Because we were both new and most of the other people in the office eat there lunch at their desks, I began eating lunch with her. And slowly but surely she began changing my perceptions. As we began to talk more and get to know each other better, I realized that we weren't nearly as different as I thought we were. We didn't talk about religion. We didn't talk about the ugliness going on in certain parts of the world. Instead we talked about our own daily lives as wives, mothers, sisters. I learned that she loved her husband just as I love mine. She loved her kids and was proud of them just like me. She has a child that is more of a challenge shall we say and so do I. We both lost both our parents when they were relatively young and we both understood what that was like. Both us had husbands who tried to teach us how to drive a standard; once. That was enough :). I learned that although she didn't speak English very well, she actually had quite a bit more education than I did. She was older than I was when she got married and had children when she was older. Her boys love to play sports just like mine do and she told me how excited her son was when he made the high school soccer team. She told me how he didn't tell her when he hurt himself at his first game and I told her how my son broke his wrist playing baseball.
As we talked and got to know each other, I realized that our similarities increased and our differences decreased and I came to like her very much. She had a wonderful sense of humour and she made me laugh and I made her laugh at some of the absurdities our every day lives.
Today was her last day and I don't know if I will see her again. Our lifestyles are very dissimilar. But she taught me something very important. She taught me not to judge people on appearances or preconceived impressions. She taught me that different cultures can and do have common ground. I know that she will never read this but still I want to say thank you Magda. You helped me to grow as a person.