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I think “Merging into mainstream society” is a very dated concept. Today’s society is very different from the society twenty or thirty years ago. Nowadays in a city like Toronto, you can hardly tell who is mainstream because there are just too many “streams”.
And just what does it mean, “Merging into mainstream society”? We may have different answers depending on how we look at it. In my opinion, mainstream or not depends very much on your state of mind. If you are confident and consider yourself mainstream, you ARE mainstream. You don’t have to have lots of non-Chinese friends, you don’t have to speak perfect English; and you don’t have to pretend to enjoy those boring office parties. To be mainstream, you must be able to make a decent living; you must be able to communicate; you must care about your friends (Chinese or non-Chinese); you must care about your neighborhood, your city, and your country; and you must enjoy your life here.
That being said, I have to say, to some of us life is more than just being “mainstream”, more than just making new friends, more than just clean air, “freedom”, and “democracy”. There is something special that you can only find in our homeland, when you are THERE, and among THEM, “our own people”. I don’t know what it is, but I think that’s what “an old immigrant” is searching for.
My personal observation is that you start searching for this special THING after about 6-9 years of stay in Canada.
(Corrections on English welcome)
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