After teaching in South Korea and Malaysia for nine years, I suggested to my newly wedded wife, Joanne Tan Warren that we should move back to Canada. For Joanne, it was a huge transition as she has lived her whole life in Malaysia. To pack up and leave her corporate job, her family, friends, and everything she has ever known to move across the globe can be intimidating. But lucky for me, she agreed - bravely at that and not at all fazed by my suggestion.
I was born and raised in Chatham. Naturally, when we moved to Canada in 2018, we made Chatham our launchpad. In those early months, it would not have been possible to begin life back here in CK without my parents. They were also one of the main reasons we decided on Chatham - to live closer to them. They were excited to open their home to us as Joanne and I adjusted to life in a small town and contemplated our future together. With the international teaching experience I gained, I am grateful to be back once again in the Canadian classrooms teaching secondary school students and shaping the minds of our future leaders.
Initially, I was worried that Joanne would find Chatham dull as she has always been a big city girl. But she impressed me with how quickly she adapted to the town and grew fond of it. Joanne is now an avid artist who has painted over 50 pet portraits across CK and Toronto under her brand JoSignature By Joanne. In 2020, she even created a virtual market for CK's very own talented crafters, and artisans to promote and sell their products during the lockdowns. The market now has over 4000 shoppers and has raised thousands of dollars for ACCESS Open Minds CK.
It is easy to fall in love with Chatham-Kent. In the three years we've lived here, we took advantage of the wonderful parks, walking paths, and outdoor adventure spots. As well as sharing countless meals out at local spots like Korean Fusion in Chatham and OJ & Molly's in Erieau. The people of CK are always so friendly and welcoming.
What surprised us was how easy it is to explore the entire area of CK. To have a nice few hours outside at Rondeau Park or to grab a great cup of coffee and a dessert at Union Bakery in Dresden takes only twenty minutes to drive. We revelled in learning about CK's incredible history at Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History and taking long slow drives through the countless farms along the back roads. We enjoy looking at the vast skies out in the countryside and spending quiet evenings at home after a home-cooked dinner - a luxury we didn't have when we lived in big cities. We were used to the fast-paced city life and were skeptical we could have the same level of enjoyment and quality of life living in a place like CK. It's so easy to get around, and there is so much to do here!
Finding a home to raise a family in one of CK's beautiful and welcoming neighbourhoods was a major priority for us. One can just look around this community to see the smiling, energetic, and hopeful looks on the faces of children and their parents. It has made us deliriously happy to finally own a home and officially put down roots here. It is very simple for us; enjoy the seasonal weather, the sights, sounds, the people, and ultimately, the feeling of being in a place where we feel safe, hopeful, and truly happy.