Canada: My Story

I began this blog one late afternoon. What was most compelling about that afternoon was not my engagement in a book or another, but rather, my keen and fixed interest on my television set as I sat there watching Julie and Julia. I had just received my acceptance letter to the Applied-Linguistics masters’ program I had applied to, and after chastening down my manner from all the twists, treads, and swings of little eccentric talents I showcased—I went to my kitchen table and sat and wrote my first blog post ever. At this moment, I was completed oblivious to what was awaiting me.

My witness to the endless grad papers were documented in my first and second year of blogging. And so were my recipes that became my discharge grace from throwing my eyes out. Another year to add and I had finished my research paper, obtained my Applied-Linguistics degree, earned a TESL certificate, and began teaching English as a Second Language to adult learners in post-secondary institutions.

My first teaching contract was at a Mexican University where I taught students who came to Canada for a short, limited time to learn intensive English. I was delighted at this opportunity, and soon after, also flourished in it.

The students I taught adored Canada—I dare say possibly more than Canadians themselves did. They wore their love on their sleeves, displaying it in various Canadian paraphernalia. Their notebooks bore symbols of the Great White North—of the beaver, the canoe, and even the famous falls of Niagara. They spoke with kindness when asked to describe this country, and in their eyes I often saw a spark, a glimmer of hope that hinted Canada was their dream, a goal they had so badly wanted to achieve—and did.

Through these glimpses, I, too, felt a sense of accomplishment. I never understood why I had intensely felt this way until I realized that through my discussions and observations, my students spoke of Canada with certainty, great devotion, and a sense of pride that I believe, subconsciously, enhanced my greater pride of being Canadian. Through genuine kindness, openness, and acceptance, I wanted to contribute to their image of Canada and appear a mirror of it.

As my lesson plans began reflecting stories of our history, our inventions, and our great heroes—bearing an overall national sense of pride, I began discovering more of Canada myself. I taught my students about our Parliament system, our Prime Ministers, our Canadian heroes, and our culture and art. I showed them videos and pictures of provinces and territories, to which most declared of visiting one day. I answered their questions regarding Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada, and the history of First nations, Inuit, and Metis societies—which were my personal favourite lessons to teach. I told them about Terry Fox and together we renowned his mission with admiration. In return they shared stories of similar heroes in their home countries, and I was proud of the sense of comradery Terry had fostered. From Terry Fox our discussions led us to David Suzuki, and together we mystified through his life achievements, and his great Canadian environmental contributions.

As my teaching contracts grew, so did my experience in teaching students of various cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

What I hadn’t comprehended upon my initial acceptance to the program, after of course I had given my best rendition of what pop-culture deems as a ‘happy dance’, was that I would end up working in a field that I was, interestingly, born to do. I realized during my first years of teaching that I had an innate fondness for it in me; a serious, unimposing love.

Growing up in a small village in Lebanon and migrating at the age of 9-years-old, becoming a citizen of a country like Canada meant for my parents a great deal. They too had hopes and dreams, and without an extended hand from teachers, mentors, neighbours, and friends, my parents wouldn’t have been able to provide me with all the embellishments I currently relish in. So when an exist became an entrance and Canada began accepting Syrian refugees, I too extended a helping hand, and as a proud Canadian, I offered my services to a group of Syrian refugee students whom I currently have the pleasure of teaching English as a second language to.

Because being a Canadian is much more than inhibiting graceful manners; being a Canadian is an attribute, a distinctive characteristic that is embedded within our home and native land. And to those who visit Canada often see, that true patriot love stretches out from the Saharan dessert to the Mediterranean Sea.

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Canada Day Heart Shortbread Cookies Recipe 

Total time: 60 minutes

Serving: 18-24 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely ground almond flour
  • Strawberry jam for decorating
  • Icing sugar for decorating

Process

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine the butter, sugar, and salt on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar. Texture doesn’t need to be as smooth here.
  2. Add flour and almond flour and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together. If it does not combine, add another 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Dough must form into a ball, or be firm enough where it doesn’t crumble when you touch it. Make sure e you don’t don’t over-mix.
  3. Bring the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  4. Cut the shapes with a cookie cutter as close to one another as possible. Repeat with rest of the dough.
  5. To cut out the heart in the middle of one cookie with a small heart-shapped cookie cutter. Make sure the thickness of the dough is consistent in order for the cookie to not fall apart.
  6. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven too 300 F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake cookies for 30 minutes until light golden on the bottom but pale on top.

Lessons Learned: I loved this recipe! It’s super delicious, delicate, and has just the right amount of a buttery, crumbly, sweetness flavour.  These cookies have been refrigerated for 24 hours because I did not get around to baking them the day I initially made them. The original recipe called for different bake times (30-60 min) rotating the pan mid-way, but my cookies baked within 30 minutes. Try these for Canada day, everyone will sure love them!

Recipe taken from: http://yummyworkshop.com/2013/06/29/canada-day-almond-shortbread-sandwiches/

Enjoy 🙂

I found this maple cookie cutter at Michaels!

Cut the cookies close to one another.

You can fill these cookies with any other jam, if you’d like. Here I used strawberry jam.

Dust the heart-snapped cookies before topping them over a jam-filled cookie.

The left-over heart cookies can be spread with jam and placed on-top of the maple cookie (as a way of introducing a different design)

Short-bread cookies and coffee…mmm!

What does Canada mean to you? Share it with me!

 

 

 

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