Cross-cultural friendships are taking root in Paulik Neighbourhood Park.
If you drop by Paulik Neighbourhood Park, located between Heather and Ash streets, you will see Kathy Miao, a new Richmond resident, and her first Canadian friend Lynda Pasacreta working tirelessly in the garden.
According to Pasacreta, president of Richmond Gardening Club, people who have trouble communicating due to cultural barriers can find ways of connecting through common interests, such as gardening.
Miao, who had a successful career in the financial industry in China before immigrating to Richmond three months ago, never thought that one day she would roll up her sleeves to remove invasive plants in Richmond’s six-acre “secret garden.”
It all started with a simple greeting from Pasacreta.
In mid-October, Miao and her husband took a walk in Paulik Park where they encountered a woman with her hands in the dirt and her hair covered in leaves. She was busy planting bulbs in the perennial garden.
Pasacreta was working in the garden, but she took time out to say “hi” to the young couple. It changed everything.
“Meeting Lynda was a blessing, she is such a kind and beautiful soul,” said Miao in Mandarin. In fact, she recalled that coming across Pasacreta was a life-changing experience for her.
The young couple peppered her with questions about what she was doing. “Then we asked if we could volunteer even if we had no gardening experience. To my surprise, Lynda welcomed us right away.”
Miao explained that, as a newcomer trying to build a life in Canada, the acceptance from Pasacreta has meant a lot to her.
“She made me feel so grateful for living in Richmond,” said Miao.
“I didn’t know too many people here. Plus I am a bit shy, so I spent most of my time staying home during the first two months in Canada, even though I wanted to get out of my comfort zone to make new friends here.”
In the past month, Miao has been busy getting her hands dirty and making new friends.
“Pasacreta has not only taught me gardening skills, but has also encouraged me to stay confident, positive and kind,” said Miao, adding that Pasacreta has become her role model.
Miao’s involvement in the park has gotten attention from others in the local Chinese community, said Pasacreta.
“We have a lot of Asian visitors, but we couldn’t say anything to each other (due to the language barrier),” she said.
Since noticing Miao’s work, more Chinese immigrants have shown interest in gardening.
Miao intends to not only keep volunteering in Paulik Park each week, but, more importantly, to get more Chinese immigrants to join her.
“Gardening is a healing process, helping you stay away from a hectic daily life. Also, as you grow plants, you will grow some friends at the same time,” said Miao.