Meet Dr. Eahab Elsaid, a proud Egyptian-Canadian. Eahab is an Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business. He is a published author, has won the undergraduate Finance Professor of the Year award for 7 years straight, and is an advocate for workplace diversity and female empowerment. While reflecting on his family's immigration story this is what he had to say:
"My parents came to Canada from Egypt in the mid-seventies. They had been married for only one year. My mom wanted to get her PhD from a Canadian university and my dad, who had a PhD in engineering from Russia, wanted to teach and do research at a Canadian institution. They stayed in Toronto for a few weeks until they relocated to Kitchener Ontario where my mom attended the University of Waterloo and my dad worked as a visiting professor. Despite not having a lot of money during that time, they always looked back on it fondly and explained to me how our house was full of love and short on money!
My mom got pregnant with me while still a PhD student. I guess I was an unexpected surprise!! She was not used to walking in the snow, being pregnant did not make things any easier, so she fell many times while going to class. Come to think of it, that might explain a few things (only my former students will get this reference). The struggle of having a new born, very little money, being all alone in Canada and having to work long hours brought them closer together. They realized that it was just the two of them against the world. My parents were so sleep deprived that one time they put a dirty diaper in the bag that contained the first draft of my mom’s PhD dissertation. Thankfully, they figured it out before submitting the dissertation to her PhD supervisor. My parents returned to Egypt when I was about 1.
In this sense this is not your stereotypical immigrant story. But wait….. there is a part 2 for the story of the Elsaid's in Canada. I guess I am picking up where my parents left off. I returned to Canada in 2007 when I started working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor. People never believed me when I said I was born in Kitchener because I have an accent. To my surprise, lots of my students and colleagues had issues pronouncing my name so I came up with a neat trick, I would tell them: it’s like rehab without the “r.” One time my barista at Starbucks wrote “rehab” on my latte!! True story, I have the picture to prove it. It would have been a lot easier if they had just named me Adam. My mom, dad, brother, nephews and niece are all in Egypt. I am fortunate enough to be able to see them twice a year. Being away from my family is definitely one of the biggest struggles that I face as an immigrant. It does not get any easier with time. I am conflicted, am I an immigrant or a first generation Canadian? I guess, I am a little bit of both. To me, Canada was this mysterious country where I was born but did not really know. Now I call it home."
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