Encouraging newcomers to get involved

Rany Ibrahim brings award-winning outlook on international community to Dal

- November 9, 2011

(Nick Pearce photo)
(Nick Pearce photo)

Do the best you can do, get involved, and don’t forget to have balance in your life –  a three-part motto that sums up the life philosophy of Rany Ibrahim, a former Dalhousie PhD student and part-time lecturer, who recently received the Newcomer Award at the 2011 Go Awards.

Fusion Halifax granted Mr. Ibrahim the award on October 1 for his contributions to the improvement of the city as a young professional. Mr. Ibrahim believes that the award “encourages newcomers as they can see that the city appreciates them.” Fusion Halifax aims to create dialogue between Halifax’s 20-40 year olds, hoping to promote “active citizenship” and progressive thinking in every area from business to arts.

Mr. Ibrahim left his home country, Egypt, almost eleven years ago to start a new life in Canada and moved to Halifax three years ago. He worked on his PhD while teaching international business at Dalhousie and still working for Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. There, he welcomes newcomers to the city and goes above and beyond to make them feel at home.

Get settled and get involved


In an era where people move across the globe to access better opportunities, it’s important that universities welcome international students. “The Dal community has an international flavor,” says Mr. Ibrahim, adding that Dalhousie encourages students from all over the world to “get involved.”

He’s also pleased with the city’s efforts to integrate out-of-country students, recounting that “a few days ago, the mayor of Halifax and Greater Halifax Partnership had a reception with international students.” He believes that it is important for cities to be successful at facilitating the transition from university to the workforce for international students.

However, Mr. Ibrahim does not hesitate to recognize that universities still have a long way to go in their relations with international students. “It is hard to get [scholarships],” he says, “and if things are difficult for national students, it is even harder for international ones”. Nevertheless, Mr. Ibrahim notes that “the situation is better now... “When I first came here, foreign students were not allowed to work off campus.”

Mr. Ibrahim has spent his time in Halifax working, studying, and getting involved in community volunteer work.  “You have to prioritize and [find] balance,” he advises. “You need time for your friends too. My closest [friends] are from Dal and are all of different nationalities.”

Mr. Ibrahim urges international students to forge friendships with Canadians, but also adds that “belonging to a community of people [who share] your language and culture is useful to avoid feeling homesick.”

Life learning

Mr. Ibrahim believes that going to class to gain book knowledge is not enough anymore. You must get involved and be part of something broader. “You can have the best grades, but you also have to know how to be an active part of your society”, he argues. He also notes the importance of networking, sharing, and communicating.

“I was involved as a Senator at Dal and I learned a lot from my experiences there,” states Mr. Ibrahim. “University has to be, as Dal is, an environment to share.”

As a lecturer, he is trying to teach students his philosophy of balance and networking. In reference to the study of international business, Mr. Ibrahim says, “I want my students to be critical, to analyze what it is happening right now in the world and to understand that everything is interconnected; to notice how big and small the world is at the same time. They have to be not only be informed but also open-minded,”

Mr. Ibrahim believes that lecturing students is an important experience because he is learning as much from them as they are from him.

“You have to be open to opportunities, be flexible, do your best, and, above all, be patient and never give up,” says Mr. Ibrahim “Of course, there are going to be challenges in life, but in the end, the effort and the perseverance are rewarded.”


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