George Brown student wants to help new immigrants succeed in Canada
Yasmin Mahmoud exemplifies the anonymous quote, “a successful woman is one who can build a strong foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.” Mahmoud, who is in the community worker program at George Brown, demonstrates that dreams don’t just come true, you make it happen.
Mahmoud’s journey to here has been unusual. She used to be an English teacher in a government school in Egypt but that was not a job she loved.
“I didn’t choose the job, my family chose it for me. Because they thought it is a good job for a woman,” she said. Mahmoud was told that teaching was a “very stable” job for women that would help her land a husband quickly.
Mahmoud never accepted the fact that she was born just to get married. She began looking for opportunities to study abroad and got a scholarship to study in the United States. While her family thought she was “crazy,” the scholarship, worth $40,000, would cover her expenses and she headed to the United States.
“I knew it was my time to shine, so I did what I wanted and left my country,” she said.
Mahmoud pursued business leadership development at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. When she later moved to Canada, Mahmoud felt the need to connect with people, but it was difficult in such a busy place.
“Even if you go to the community centre, (case-workers) there just don’t put their heart into it,” Mahmoud said. “It is just a job or just a client for them.”
Mahmoud’s experience as a new immigrant made her want to help other new Canadians like herself. Mahmoud strives to inspire new Canadians, especially Middle-Eastern women, to take advantage of the opportunities for further education and to try something different than back home.
In Canada, “you can study whatever you want,” she said. “If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor.”
Another aspect that Mahmoud has noted about seeking different opportunities in Canada is that changing careers and one’s age are less of a concern here than in other places. “In my culture, the older you get, the harder it is for you to go back to school.” In Canada, on the other hand, Mahmoud thinks adult education is encouraged and that age is just a number.
Mahmoud is now working on a project to help Syrian refugees settle in Canada with COSTI immigration services. In her role with COSTI, she provides counseling, helps refugees practice English, secure housing, and more. Mahmoud has made it her mission to reach Syrian women and share with them the opportunities that Canada offers.
Mahmoud rejected expectations placed on her by her family and culture, in order to do what she wanted to do. She is now married to someone she loves and feels content with herself.
“I have everything I want, I am so happy,” she said. “Everything I ever wanted in life, I have it.”