From Egypt to Nova Scotia: A Second Homecoming
NOTE: The following is a feature story from the Office of Immigration.
It was midnight and Fady Nashat was exhausted after a trip to the United States. He waited as an immigration officer reviewed his documents at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
"And he just said, 'Welcome home' and that really hit me," Nashat recalls.
He is proud to call Nova Scotia home. With help from the Nova Scotia Nominee Program, Nashat became a permanent resident of Canada in 2009.
His journey began in 2007 when he left his family and friends in Cairo, Egypt, to spend his final year of undergraduate studies at Cape Breton University. He had completed the first three years of the Bachelor of Technology Information (Information Management) degree in Cairo at the Canadian International College, which partners with Cape Breton University.
"I wanted to see what it feels like to go in a different country, speak a different language all the time, to communicate with different people, get out of my comfort zone and reach out and see what's out there in life," he says about his decision to study abroad.
Nashat arrived on campus in time for frosh week, beginning what he calls "the best year of my life."
"I can't imagine how many people I met just through that frosh week," he says. "Cape Bretoners, and there were so many people from around Canada, too … So we were all kind of away from home, but in home.
"Cape Breton was a really nice spot because people there are very, very welcoming. They really spend the time with you. I feel like in huge cities this luxury doesn't exist."
Nashat has also found a strong sense of community in Halifax. The certified project management professional is a project co-ordinator at NTT DATA Canada, Inc., formerly Keane, Canada, Inc.
"I always call working at my job the superman department," he says, describing how it follows projects from start to finish for NTT DATA clients. Nashat's role includes software development. He gets to focus on the hardware side in his part-time work as an IBM technician lead for Kelly Services.
In addition to his busy work schedule, Nashat makes time for studying, volunteering and going out with friends.
"If we're not learning every day, there's no progress," says Nashat, whose future plans include becoming a senior project manager. He successfully completed the IT Infrastructure Library Foundation Examination and, also earned the credential of Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist.
Nashat happily shares what he's learned with the community. He's drawing on his project management skills as event chairman for the Canadian Diabetes Association's Run for Diabetes – Halifax.
He also volunteers as a "connector" with the Greater Halifax Partnership's Halifax Connector Program where he helps newcomers make professional contacts in their field. Nashat is giving back after benefiting as a participant.
And giving back is something that comes naturally to Nashat. The children camp volunteer at the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint Mena in Halifax gives thanks to his family for the lessons they taught him, the faith they instilled, and the time they spent with him as he grew up – all of which, he says, are fundamental to the person he is today.
"I believe that every person has a purpose and that's why we're very diverse … I feel if I'm not utilizing what I have who will? And then the world will be missing one person or one character or one skill. But if everybody put their two cents in and provided what they can be giving, then this world would be a lot better."
Cape Split hiking, Graves Island camping, and deep sea fishing are just some of the summertime activities Nashat has embraced.
"I don't need to travel to go for a vacation," he says. "I spend my vacation where I am."
Nashat also appreciates the architecture in Halifax, its ocean views and his short commute to work. When asked why he chose to stay in Nova Scotia after completing his degree he was quick to answer.
"It was hard for me not to. I've seen so much that I couldn't say no. I've seen what the people are like here, how beautiful the environment is, how clean and empty the streets are … I've built a lot of friendships here in Nova Scotia and built a really great community."