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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
How does one adjust, adapt to a new life in a new place, far from the home in which we were born? How does one become a citizen of another country, in more ways than just the official certificate that declares us as belonging? Over the years, Canada has welcomed a large number of immigrants from around the world. In fact, many have stated that Canada is a country built by immigrants. In many ways, we are all immigrants, or at least descended from immigrants.
In Grow Together, immigrant authors share their experiences and offer advice to help other immigrants and to open the minds of those Canadians whose families have called this country home for generations. Gabriela Casineanu writes: “Consciously embracing the change, getting curious about identifying opportunities and out-of-the-box solutions – “finding gems in the garbage bin” as some say – requires from each of us an openness to growth and a recognition that creativity is not reserved only for the arts.” Of the difficult feelings immigrants must address upon arriving in a new country, loneliness is paramount. Marème Diongue shares this feeling in her first entry in a journal dated February 5, 2018: “I’m all alone. My feelings caged in for so long they don’t know which way to flow. I feel drained. I feel old.” And then there’s advice on how to make this immigrant journey work for both the immigrant and those who welcome immigrants to Canada. Alice Fomen writes: “My journey as an immigrant in Canada was filled with many projects, but all of them had a common goal: To share my experience and to learn about other people’s experience so as to avoid some obstacles that often get in the way of our professional success: language barriers, lack of experience, lack of a professional network.”
The Immigrant Writers Association has put together an anthology, Grow Together, which addresses so many issues facing immigrants, especially currently with the added stress of the Covid pandemic. The anthology includes writings by fifteen authors who claim roots in Somalia, South Africa, Romania, Russia, RD-Congo, Cameroon, Senegal, India, Mexico, and Jamaica. The stories include memoirs, journal entries, essays of advice, as well as futuristic works of fiction. All the stories are well presented, uplifting, and encouraging, as well as being resourceful and inspirational. An interesting read.