Words of Wisdom: Nae Hanashiro Avila

Gradschool e-news invites international graduate students to share their “words of wisdom”—recommending campus resources or suggesting “survival tips” that have helped ease their transition to U of T and life in Toronto.

This month, we welcome a contribution by Nae Hanashiro Avila, current recipient of the Connaught International Scholarship and a first-year PhD student of Hispanic Literature in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. These words were part of a speech Nae delivered at the November 2017 reception for award holders of Connaught and Vanier Graduate Scholarships.

“When I had just arrived in Toronto, I went to the Centre for International Experience to meet a transition advisor. I was still overwhelmed from so many changes. While talking to him, I told him that one of the things that worried me the most was that, for the first time, I was going to be teaching at a university in a language other than my own, so I was worried about my accent and about making grammatical errors while speaking –like saying to my students ‘I guess you are boring’ instead of ‘I guess you are bored,’ as happened to me in my first class. The advisor looked at me and said: ‘In our university, we welcome students from all over the world, which means that you are not the only person in your class who is going to be speaking in a language that is not their own. But most importantly, we are not expecting you or our students to speak in the same way or with the same accent. In fact, what makes us richer as a University is that difference.’

His words were not only relieving, but also encouraging. From my view, they reflect that I am, we are, in a university that embraces diversity and not only acknowledges difference, but also believes in the value of that difference. And, by doing so—by becoming a space in which diversity, multiculturality, and interdisciplinarity converge—U of T sets the stage for the creation of great and innovative ideas.”


Share your own “Words of Wisdom” with fellow international students. Email them to sgs.communications@utoronto.ca with the subject heading “WOW.” Let us know what country you’re from — and if your first language is not English, send a greeting in your native tongue. Help build the community of international grad students at U of T!

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