A grey-bearded man posed on a bench outside the Ottawa Public Library on Laurier, the street behind ABCE. He
recited lines from the book he was reading. His sentences halted pedestrians in the morning traffic.
I couldn’t see the title but I guessed that it was poetry. Mr. Bookbench is but one of the countless characters who
occupy this urban story. His street-slam is a prominent voice in the urban soundtrack.
Everyone we meet has the potential to influence us.
Mr. Bookbench reminded me why my career advances at ABCE. I am here, in Ottawa, to share the stories that I
have collected – in the classroom, virtual or real, in print or on screen.
Every moment at ABCE means spending time with motivated learners from diverse backgrounds. I discover their
stories through the dialogue of language training.
They register in full or part-time programs from across Government departments in order to build linguistic
proficiency or to discover essential strategies that help enable improved scores on the entire series of SLE tests
in French or English.
International or local learners discover English language programs that focus on: English for Academic Purposes
(EAP), IELTS or related skillsets in Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Critical Thinking. Some even choose
specific themes, from blog-writing to presentations, from globalization to job applications and interviews. A few
learners have also taken the creative route and concentrated on the arts, literature or philosophy.
Learners appreciate the uniquely designed content of handouts or materials that are inspired from an inherent
understanding of global cultures, current perspectives and events or social issues.
As an educator and before my employ, I researched ABCE. One remarkable fact is the school’s legacy began in
1995 with Mr. Chaouni’s visionary achievement. I read that government students take classes to empower their
performance on arduous English or French tests. ABCE, the company’s name references these test levels.
ABCE reflects diversity in education and symbolizes the city of Ottawa, in all its multicultural facets.
I recall a memorable summer walk along the Rideau River. One teacher and I were with a group of learners from:
the Czech Republic, South Korea, Taipei in Taiwan, Ethiopia by way of Senegal, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan and
Gatineau, Quebec. Through their stories, geographies blended to join continents together.
True enough that the nations, cities or townships from where our students originate are but departure points, the
final destination is ABCE. Yet local learners, whether employed in government departments or the private sector
and the students from around the globe who follow our programs, enrich the atmosphere here to define and
unite ABCE. Every learner who seeks to develop their language proficiency at ABCE contributes to our cultural
Such electric connections with people resemble airport encounters. (At present, under the threat of COVID-19
these appear nostalgic.) Sitting in a lounge before boarding, you share greetings, have fleeting conversations
and perhaps share photos of your travels with fellow travelers never seen again. Multitudes of flights would soon
carry your acquainted and you to home or to new locales. Under the jet lag induced by these long-haul flights
jumbled memories storm with stark daylight or at 3 AM, a person’s remarkable story would tick along with the
clock in the dark silence.
This single conversation could even turn into a story that changes your life’s path. As mine did when in the
Arrivals area at Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia, a famous author who writes books
about travel asked, “What brought you here?”
My first response was, “An airplane.” Yet, the question had a quiet significance. He meant that what events in my
life had sequenced in such a way that I would be here, in this airport – at this very minute.
The unspoken question to follow would be obvious, “Where will you go?”
Thus, in going, we are bound to meet incredible individuals. Students who attended and do attend ABCE, are of
As I navigate the world through local neighborhoods in global cities, the dynamic forces of travel still influence
and resound. Journeyed, traveled, voyaged, walked are verbs that possesses their own delicate nuances. I recall,
though, another particular person.
I write this reflection here for an important reason. Please read on.
I filled the pages of my journal with narrative soon after I had arrived in Bangkok, Thailand. I was seated at a Kho
San cafe table and a person, with blond dreadlocks and wearing white appeared. He kept walking down the
street to look at a collection of T-shirts hanging in the humidity. I thought nothing of this and so continued my
writing or scribbling – more verbs. Two years later, in Jakarta, while I sat, this time in the midst of conversation
with friends at a local hangout in the backpacking enclave of Jaksa, I turned to notice this same person – still
dressed in white, still having golden dread-locked hair. He simply passed by and vanished again into the crowd.
He was for lack of a better word, a planet-walker. I must ask, aren’t we all?
My point is that connections are the very reason why travel has mystique or mystery. In an educational sense, this
also rings as fact. We never know who we will meet or where.
ABCE is not an institute for higher learning but an incredible space where people can connect through
meaningful or didactic conversations when we operated in business-as-usual mode. Nowadays, these
connections occur virtually between instructors and learners.
Gone are the halcyon days of walking up to a new student in a different classroom to begin conversation – at
least, for now.
These talks once held the potential that lead to friendships or partnerships for shared study.
By not conversing, fellow planet-walkers pass out of your life forever and lost chances to find dialogues never
return. During this age of pandemic, we must be patient and await the opportunity to discover other planetwalkers in the near future.
Today, discussions between learners and educators can be treasured in the same manner so that these
interchanges can be the foundation for learning – for traversing across the substantial landscapes of our
What if I had spoken to the planet-walker? Would my life, my understanding have changed?
So, where will you be going?
Whenever I reflect on dialogues with government employees and students from countries close or afar in English
or French, I witness the wonder of language education at work here and from this my awareness is in constant
Language learning is another form of travel so make ABCE Language School in Ottawa, Canada your