The eighth annual I am London campaign showcases immigrants who provide essential services in London. Join us on the 8th of every month until December 2021 to read about our Faces of London.
As a young man living in a small town, nestled in the foothills of Northern China, Hongtao Bi (Ryan) worked with children in a kindergarten before he came to Canada in 2012. He quickly settled in London, where the peace, safety, tranquillity and slower pace of life made a refreshing change. In fact, even though London is the tenth largest city in Canada, he was surprised to find out that it much smaller than his hometown in China.
Ryan has worked in many roles – caring for children, as a recruitment talent agent, helping applicants to process their visa applications, as a driving instructor guiding newcomers to Canada and most recently, delivering food as an Uber Eats driver. A common theme runs through all his career choices – he loves taking care of people. In the past year, as a frontline worker during various lockdowns, he has focused on giving his Uber Eats clients the best possible experience. He worries if they are safe, if their food will stay warm, and encourages all frontline workers to “protect yourself first, so you can provide a better service to your customers.”
Ryan is training to be a HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning) technician at Fanshawe College in Woodstock. As an Uber Eats driver his work hours are flexible, allowing him to work and study at the same time. Ryan is described by his teachers as motivated, supportive and remarkably resourceful in a city where he is a newcomer and a second language learner. “Canada is a place where your dreams come true,” he says, as he makes plans to launch his technical career and hopefully, one day soon, start his own family.
The pandemic has been a challenging experience in many ways, and he has felt especially sad that he was unable to fly back to China to see his parents and sister. Before the Spring Festival/Lunar New Year, Ryan realized that there were many people like himself who missed a family reunion, and with the guidance of his instructors at Fanshawe he created a Tiktok video Happy New Year greeting for Asian students. It was so well received that Fanshawe College shared it with their International Centre, who in turn shared it with their resources globally. “Every single person can influence the people around them. Keep moving in life and learning,” he advises.
Even though Ryan is proud that he has been able to help the London community by delivering food through the pandemic, he believes that the healthcare workers are the “real heroes”.