Day 255 - Lawrence

Day 255 - Lawrence (5th person I approached)

**NOTE Sept 13, 2014 - I received a message yesterday from Lawrence asking me to remove his photo from this story. Out of respect for his personal wishes, I have done so. This is how this story unfolds.

September 12, 2014 - A couple of people that I approached today gave me glimpses into their lives, but didn’t want their picture taken. It always works out okay, because ultimately I meet the person that I’m meant to talk with. It still amazes me though, how polite people are (almost one hundred percent of the time) when declining.


Lawrence was born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.

“My mother’s brother lived in Vancouver (British Columbia), and when I was five years old, we moved here. I have a few picture-like memories of living in Manila, and then being on the plane. Landing at the airport and meeting relatives that were there to pick us up,” he said.

“My parents are Chinese, and spoke a lesser known Chinese dialect, that is close to Taiwanese. When we moved to Canada, we all spoke English as much as we could. My parents thought it would be better if we all learned together. They had jobs and needed to speak English. I grew up speaking English at home and at school. I took a Chinese language class in elementary school, but it was Mandarin. The language my parents spoke was closer to Cantonese, so I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I didn’t continue with that class for long,” he said, smiling.


When Lawrence moved from elementary to high-school, he went from a public to a private school.

“I think a small part of it was the elevated status, but it was, for the most, that my parents thought I’d get a better education. It was interesting because we had been going to an Anglican church before I went to the private school, which was Catholic. It allowed me to learn about another religion. I became more aware of religion, and I ended up taking more of a step back and looking at what elements appealed to me, and what didn’t. I believe in a higher power, but I’m not what you’d call religious,” he said. 


“I was a typical Asian student in high-school; good at Maths, Sciences and PE (Physical Education),” he said, laughing at himself.

“I remained friends with the people I went to elementary school with and I think that our educations were fairly similar. In fact, the public school offered more elective classes because there were more students. We didn’t have, say, automotive class or workshops in private school,” he said.


After graduating from high-school, Lawrence went to Langara College.

“I was working towards getting into human kinetics, combining study of the human body and sciences. Because of the grades required to get into kinetics, certain classes weren’t available. I didn’t want to keep taking just one or two classes each semester. I did that for about two years and then changed my focus,” he said.

“My course counsellor suggested nursing, which I had never thought about. Looking back, it all happened for the best. I’m glad the way things went.” Lawrence spent another three and a half years studying to become a Registered Nurse.

“In my second year I did what is called ‘working student nurse’ and worked at St Paul’s Hospital (Vancouver). It was an incredible experience to get hands-on learning and to shadow nurses on the job,” he said.


As a registered nurse, Lawrence has focussed his attention toward working on the cardiac ward. “It was something as soon as I had exposure to, I knew I wanted to do. That’s one of the great things about nursing, there are so many different directions a nurse's career can move in,” he said. When I had approached Lawrence and asked him to chat, I also asked if he had enough time to chat. He told me that he was in no hurry and was just working on a few work-related emails and some paperwork. I was curious what he would be doing at a coffee shop that related to his nursing, so of course I asked.

“Well, a friend of mine is involved in training through Langara College. I was contacted and asked to help out for four months, training some student nurses. So I’m just making sure that I’ve got as much organized as I can. I want to be prepared and make sure it’s a good experience for the students,” he told me. Lawrence will be helping guide seven students who are just beginning their second year of nursing college.

“I did some one-on-one training in the hospital before. This time it’s seven students, so it’s a different challenge. It’s only for four months, and I figured it would be a great opportunity to help out. Just as people helped me when I was a student in school, I want to help too.”


Looking forward and thinking about his future, Lawrence says he may at some point move into Patient Education.

“When someone is a patient in hospital, there’s so much going on for them. They're getting all kinds of information, and the emotions are often in high gear. They don’t always take in everything they need to know. Patient Education is sitting down with a patient and going over what they need to know, ideally before they get discharged. Medications, therapy, follow-up. Making sure they have the information they need and can take some time to think of the questions they might have,” he said.

“At St Paul’s, it's a well run system. I’ve seen some other hospitals and it can get pretty chaotic and things fall through the cracks," said Lawrence. 


"I love working at St Paul’s. Not only because it has such a great reputation, but as the mission statement says ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.' That goes to everyone. The staff are a family, a tight team that really care about one another and about our patients.” #notastranger