Month: April 2014

Spring! – I hope so!

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Flor (20)Surely it must be spring! At least, the calendar says so. But this year, spring in the province of Ontario seems to be coming very late, or maybe it was just that winter started too soon.

Local neighbors and friends don’t seem to agree, some say they have enjoyed while others hated this weather. One thing is for sure, no one has seen weather like this in the Greater Toronto Area, since the 90’s.

For my family and me, this was part of the fun that came with the adventure of coming to a new country, in the north. For us, the winter was good, even with the 40 cm of snow we had in one day. However, the -30°c., wasn’t very nice, but we all learned to bundle up and enjoy the outdoors.

For someone that has lived in an endless summer, sometimes warmer than the regular 25°c, having fun in snow was always exciting. So for my family, winter was good even with the shoveling, the slippery driving and the cold days. I have to confess it got a little tedious when I had to dress and undress my children and myself in this weather. By the second month of winter, we finally realized that this was not a vacation, this was life.

We had to get used to it, otherwise I think we would have felt out of place. For me, it was wonderful to see Canadians doing their jobs and enjoying their hobbies regardless of the weather. They didn’t stop just because it was raining or there was a winter storm. This year we had an ice storm that caused a great deal of damage with power out for days. Freezing rain like this storm is very unusual even for this country. I watched in amazement, the rain fell and even though it is wet, it froze as it hits the street. The trees shone, the power lines, house rooftops the streets and sidewalks, all sparkled with an icy glow; it looked so beautiful. But that beauty had plenty of consequences. The freezing rain left more than a thousand households without power for days; this was something that was really difficult for a city that had -5 to -12°c during those days.

The nicest thing about the weather here in Ontario, is that it changes. So by this day, April 13th after a wonderful white Christmas and a long and cold winter, nature has made space for the green to fill the outdoors.

It is incredible that two weeks ago we had snow in the streets and now we are starting to see tulips and plants emerge from the soil. I have never experienced something so wonderful, and I see it as a real gift that reminds me that when you think everything is done, life gives you another chance.

Sometimes people from the tropical countries don´t realize the gift they have. Now I start to understand why nature and preservation is a major issue for Canadians. It´s more than the weather, it seems to be a reason for living.


Rob Ford… a Phenomenon or a Media Genius?

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By Lucia Lecuna

Today I ran onto Rob Ford near Toronto City Hall. When I realized that it was really him, I tried to think of a question that would give me the chance to have a brief conversation with him. As always, he was surrounded by people who I assumed were his collaborators. For me this was a trigger, it reminded me of the situation in Venezuela.

This man, who has captured my attention for his constant front page presence in all the media in Toronto, and also in some nationwide media, seems like a Chavez-media phenomenon.

Let me explain – by 1998, when Hugo Chavez ran and won his first presidential election, there was not a single conversation, positive or negative, where this man was not the main character. Almost immediately all the journalists, followers or not, listened to their editors and began to write about his “new” proposal. His strategy, which I felt was simply a political opinion that was so well carried out, not only did he win the elections, people believed in all he said, never questioning whether it was the truth or fabrication. They still believe.

I have learned that Canadians, at least most of them, have a huge issue with lies or more politely put, fabrication.  So do I, but here in Canada, it seems that the “lies” or fabrications are not going to be the trigger for the next elections. From my perspective, I don’t agree or like the way Ford manages his life and his political responsibilities. I support the City Hall decisions and applaud those who made them. I chose this Country because a strong legal system exists to be followed, I can only hope that one day, Venezuela will follow the Canadian example.

So, as a newcomer I try to learn about the rules, the idioms, nuances and idiosyncrasies of the English language. I listen, I listen carefully to people talking in the food court, in the bus or on the train, and I hear young people saying things like; “it’s ok if he parties… who doesn´t?”, or “I´m pretty sure he is not the only one who has tried a few relaxing things, at least he is like us”. I wonder if I really understand what they are saying.

I won’t get into the ethics or morals today, because it really worries me. I will focus on the popularity of this incredible media man.

The way I see it with Ford, is that he is getting free advertising every time he is on the front page. You might like him or not, but one thing is for sure, you know what he did today. My encounter with him was a casual walking by, so for me, even if I already have my personal assumptions about him, he seemed accessible. As a politician, he nodded at my husband… not at me… I don’t know why he didn’t acknowledge me, when we made eye contact first… but, I don’t really care.

As a new immigrant, I still have half of my belongings in boxes, and we are just starting to get to know people in Canada, so I really shouldn’t criticize my colleagues in the media. I can only share what I lived through during 14 years of the Chavez kingdom. I hope never to see something similar happen here in Canada.

Politicians need the media and any kind of public exposure is valid for them. Statistics show that they actually have mixed feelings about journalists, often because most are free souls who don’t always obey their editors. They usually like to research more than what is easily found on the surface. While politicians are humans, we expect much more from them because of the responsibilities we give them with our vote.

When I saw the scandals that Ford has been involved with I thought “maybe he just needs a good media relations and public opinion agency”. I recognize that he must have one, they all do. The problem as I see it, is accepting what the experts tell you to do.

I ran from Venezuela dreaming of a new opportunity, a life with freedom and in a country where we could all fit in. I still can’t vote here, but I encourage the Toronto media to focus on other issues of more relevance, and not give free public exposure to any candidate.

Don’t be so ingenuous to think all he does is accidental.  He knows the media is behind every step he takes, and it is helping him meet his objective of being in every conversation.

Lucia is a journalist who can write in both English and Spanish. She is currently in a work placement with Sheridan College.  

The language in times of Multiculturalism

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The real-time interconnection of millions of people, make communications the greatest achievement of the century, as evidenced by the steady growth trend of investments and businesses related to information and communication technologies (Google , Verizon, Apple, Microsoft , Samsung) , which even belong to(are part of the day to day life) the club of the most productive companies in the world.

Finally, the technological barriers have been conquered allowing us to travel this village called “Earth” with ease. The term “Global Village” raised by the Canadian sociologist Marshall McLuhan in 1962, is what we are enjoying today. But, what is happening?  Even though we know more languages ​​and have different translation programs, we can’t understand each other?

Sultan, a competitive global Manager for a well known organization, who is from Pakistan and has travelled to more than 60 countries for personal and professional purposes, says: “In this era of communication and technology, where business is more varied in number and in types of cultures, language is not the only thing. We must learn social and cultural customs to make communication more effective”.  He emphasizes that “future managers should be open, flexible and eager to learn about the people”.

His lifestyle, as well as the thousands of professionals that today are the key strategy of success for global companies, is a restless culture apprentice who overcome the ability to speak several languages. This new management style has to manage the differences of the same word, taking note of the context in which it is located. Not every professional is aware that the English of England, United States, Canada, Australia and the English Caribbean Islands, is different.

The word’s context and its meaning are constant and alive, coupled with the basic manners to be observed in different cultures. The world is more than ever Multicultural, and so is the language. Mary A. De Vries, a writer specializing in communication styles, notes: “Most of the business people involved in Global Communications, never learned in their studies how to write (or talk) to someone from another country. Unless your company offer training on the cross, or that they do apply for several courses in international communication, business people don’t consider the differences.

The task is larger. It is not only to know how to dress, or what the locals like to eat. The task is learn the ins and outs of social and culture differences; an example, understanding that in a country like China, there are many languages, and we cannot assume that everyone speaks the same dialect and language.

Today we see that the immediacy of communication accelerates processes that should be reviewed carefully. The road becomes slower for companies and people, because the precision takes time, and time is very valuable. The point is to reach a balance and take care of what is written or said and who is the audience.

Sultan suggests that having respect, simplicity and attitude of constant learning is the most effective way to promote the communication journey in an organization.