Hi, my name is Takuya. I'm a Japanese English teacher, and I moved to Toronto, Canada on September in 2017. Here is a little bit of my background.
In Japan, most schools have strict dress codes that determine every aspect of our appearance from uniforms to hair color and style.
If one day you decided to come to school with your hair dyed, your parents would be called and you would be immediately summoned to the teacher’s office, where you would be reprimanded and reminded the importance of following the rules.
To this day, I remember one of my junior high school teachers dragging a student down the hall by his hair and forcing his head under a running hallway sink. He had learned that the student was using hair wax, and had taken it upon himself to remove it forcibly.
At that time, nobody was really surprised. This was just another example of the extent to which we, as Japanese people, have to obey the rules set forth by society.
It’s no surprise then that our studies were similarly strict. During English classes, we studied grammar, read and wrote, learning to speak from teachers who spoke faulty English with thick accents. We studied without ever really being asked to speak our minds or question what we were doing.
In a system where students who were shy and obedient were praised as polite and humble, being creative and expressive with how you speak was a totally alien concept.
Knowing this, what would you say to someone learning English who looks really shy, but seems like they, are really trying their best?
Would you still really say “Come onnnn don’t be shyyyy!”..?
We have to keep in mind that it’s hard to judge a person’s efforts and dedication without understanding how one’s cultural background makes it difficult to totally relearn how to communicate.
The reason that Japanese people struggle with English is largely linked to a fear that comes with a total lack of experience communicating in English throughout our lives.
That is why whenever I communicate with English learners, I think of my past self who trying his best, but was struggling to express himself in English.
To see someone trying their best is in itself inherently beautiful. That’s why I love talking to people in English. I’ve realized through my own experiences that trying to communicate in a second language, is in and of itself, already an accomplishment.
As someone who is a teacher and yet still a student, I am always striving to better understand the struggles of English learners, admire their efforts, motivate them and guide them to help them accomplish their goals. That is, my mission!
Three weeks ago, I had my backpack stolen at this cafe in downtown of Toronto. It had my passport, my visas, my laptop, my house key, my wallet, my voice recorders and other valuables. The total loss of the value was over $3,000.
My backpack was on the right side of my chair when I took out my phone from my bag. After a few bites of my sandwich, in seconds, my bag was gone. The police said on the phone they cannot come because I am not a Canadian citizen.
None of my friends with me and the people sitting on the right and left sides of the tables saw anything suspicious. Four days later, the cafe staff finally found the suspect in the footage of security camera. There was a guy wearing a hat with his T-shirt sat on the closet chair at the back of my table, looking at his phone, picked up my backpack and left as if it was his. The security guard told me later that the exact same thing happened to a Canadian guy in the past at the same table of the cafe.
One of my friends has had her phone snatched from her hand in a few seconds on the street in downtown. My other friend had her backpack stolen at a cafe in Bay area one day before I write this blog. She lost her passport, her wallet, her laptop and other things. The other of my friends, who has asked a woman at a cafe to watch his bag while going to the washroom, had his wallet stolen when he came back.
Professional thieves are everywhere in Toronto.
‘Unbelievable': Toronto police warn of distraction thefts after wallet stolen in pub, published June 2, 2018
At the public reference library the security guard said, “Now the theft incidents happen almost once in two days in this library.” He added, “Any concrete measures have not been taken yet by the police in the last several years, even the low-cost way such as putting anti-theft designed posters on walls."
I share my experiences here about how I reacted to the incident and what actions I have taken. I hope this blog helps for you.
What to do when your belongings were stolen at a cafe
1. Cancel your credit cards. TD Credit Cards at 1-800-983-8472 (collect at 416-307-7722) . This TD Credit Cards department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2. Call the police —911. If you are not a Canadian citizen, the police might tell you that they cannot come but you need to go to police station such as my case. If so, ask and check the location of the closest police station during the call.
3. Check your Apple device’s location in your backpack through the FindiPhone app if possible. Lock your devices. However, this is NOT available when the devices are offline and not connected to Wi-Fi. If the devices have been offline for a while, change your Apple ID password to block all the access of any information in your Apple account.
4. Leave your contact number to the cafe staff just in case you can receive their call when they find the suspect in the footage or in person.
5. Go to the police station. You might have to lend some money from your friends or people around you for the transportation. You’ll have to write down some case-file there. Write down the situation and what was stolen as much detailed as possible. The police gives you the note of the stolen case report number. You’ll need these digits to be relieved of a duty in that the thief might commit any crime with your IDs. Even when you need the identification confirmation while the documents are lost, this case number helps you to prove that your situations is true. The police will call you back once they’ve assigned a detective to your case.
6. If you also lost your house key, call your landlord to tell the situation. Ask your landlord or your roommate to open the door when you come home if possible. Let your landlord know that the door key has to be changed as quickly as possible.
7. Change all your passwords of your social media accounts.
8. Call the consulate of your country to hear any advice in this crisis and check the steps to reissue your passport. They will explain the detailed steps. Here is the link for the list of consular offices in Ontario.
9. Go to any branch of your bank to reissue your access card. After answering several questions to check your identification, they will usually activate your account and provides you with your credit card even if you wouldn’t have any identification documents.
10. Buy your metro pass. You might have to go to many places every day such as consular office, the police station, your friend’s house, or anywhere in this crisis. Your concerns should not be the amount of money for the pass, but be how to quickly protect yourself and get back on truck.
11. Reissue your visa. Here is the link.
Application for a Verification of Status (VOS) or Replacement of an Immigration Document (IMM 5545):
11. Convey your honest feeling with anyone you feel secured to. You will be first devastated, blame yourself and regret about all the things you could have done. However, don’t forget that your life, your body, your heart, and people around you who help you out cannot be replaced by anything.
12. If you really are financially in a crisis needing anyone’s help and are always willing to give the supporters back with anything you can do, starting your crowdfunding donations could be one of the options. However, this is not what I recommend you do first if you are not willing to give back anything you have instead of money to all the donors. You might need to set up the returns. Consult with your trustful friends if this could be a right decision for you.
If your identification card such as your passport and your driver license was stolen, there’s a chance you could become the victim of identity theft. Once the thief arrived at your country, for example, your country’s driver licence in your wallet could be used to create a new bank account or a new credit card — commit any crimes under your alias.
1. Keep your stolen case report number that you establish at the police station. This allows you to avoid the responsibility of the crimes committed by the thief. It is important that this legitimately proves that your IDs were stolen.
2. Deactivate any of your IDs that were issued in your country when you go back. If necessary, take the procedures in your country as soon as possible.
Tips for avoiding theft crises in the future
“Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t carry possessions with you that you don’t need.” These are easier to be said, but not only mindset but environment truly changes how you behave. These are the concrete measures as the prevention that I believe should also be taken, and what I have done in the last two weeks.
- Backup all your data to your online drive. I backup all my pictures I take every night with my phone into my Google Drive, and all the other data is automatically stored into iCloud Drive regularly. Here is the list of monthly fees for the different size of iCloud storage and Google Drive:
- Lock your backpack with three dial padlock through the zippers. As the video above shows, thieves can quickly zip out your backpack and take out your wallet or our laptop in a moment. This dial lock can make you become the harder target for thieves.
- Bind your chair’s leg and your backpack with the security cable. Remember the video that thieves carefully observe you and see a chance of taking your belongings in a moment when your eyes are out of your belongings. If your backpack was bound with a chair, thieves would avoid choosing you as their target.
- Lock your SIM card with PIN. Your passcode lock could be reset by removing your SIM card from your device and reusing it with the other device. This could prevent thieves from having access to all your data in your SIM. Call your career to check the steps, and follow the instruction that the operator guides you. Here’s the instruction page for iPhone:
- Create another bank account to have two different access cards—one is for the bigger amount of your expense which stays at your home, and another is in your wallet only for one day budget you carry around such as $50. In this way, for example, even if your wallet was stolen and your credit card would be used, your total loss through the credit card fraud will only be up to $50. Every night you can transfer the only necessary amount of your money through online or the app for free. Go to your bank to create another bank account.
- Hide the bluetoothGPS tracker tabs called Tile in your backpack and your wallet. I put one of them inside of my lucky charm in my wallet, and the other in my backpack.