By Melissa Bennardo
Sherif Taher lives for the unexpected. His laid back personality makes leaving his home country of Egypt, in pursuit of the unforeseen, seem simple.
Taher, 24, is a fourth-year business technology management student who moved to Ontario from Egypt only five years ago.
“I don’t really plan for anything in the future. I’m more of a ‘wherever life takes me, I’ll be there’ kind of guy,” said Taher.
He asked his dad if he could apply for permanent residence in Canada after meeting Canadian students at his international high school in Kuwait. While he waited for the status of his application, he went back to Egypt for university.
“One day I got an email saying I got my visa and I was like, ‘Oh, sick!’ I literally dropped out of school in Egypt.” Taher ended up in Montreal with his friends but after a short period of time, he decided to move to Toronto instead.
Taher said he knew absolutely no one in Toronto. He stayed at the Chelsea Hotel and after looking out his window he spotted Ryerson University across the street. “It seemed like a good place to be,” he said.
Ryerson was the only school he applied to and he was accepted. Although Taher was pleased to have found Ryerson, he still experienced some challenges being in Toronto all alone.
“I had no money. I kind of needed to get a job which was very challenging since I didn’t have any Canadian experience,” said Taher. “I ended up going [to] a party I wasn’t even invited to.”
After mistaking someone for the host and thanking him for throwing the party, Taher started talking to him about his life back at home. He explained how he was involved in a student group in Egypt and studied marketing in university. By the end of the conversation, the man offered him an unpaid position at the Honda Indy Toronto, an annual IndyCar racing event.
“I was actually surprised. Everyone seemed very welcoming and they were trying to help me as much as they could,” said Taher. He said he doesn’t mind meeting and talking to new people and that each experience is valuable.
“It wasn’t a paid job but it helped me get so many jobs in the future,” said Taher.
Taher is also the vice president of Ryerson Students for Wishes, a student group that helps raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada.
Taher’s love for helping others and meeting new people inspired him to join the student group two years ago. He heard of the group from former president Bradley Salt, who happened to be in Taher’s Spanish class. Taher was then introduced to the current president, Daniel Stagliano.
“We are trying as much as we can to get people involved with the cause,” he said.
Taher said one of his most memorable moments as part of the group was helping to organize their annual “Hairaiser.” This campus-wide event collaborates with a barber shop so students can donate or dye their hair blue for the cause. The next “Hairaiser” will be held on Feb. 26.
“I like helping people. A lot of people helped me when I came to this country and I want to give back,” said Taher.
He said he never expected to move to Canada and be where he is now. “When you plan for your future and things don’t go the way you want them to go, you start getting depressed and thinking you failed.”
Taher prefers to take risks. He doesn’t have a set plan for where he’s going next, but that’s okay with him.
“It’s more interesting and adventurous this way.”