Cold, snowy weather is often a hot topic for newcomers to Canada. It can be a challenge for those who come from warmer countries. For May Ali – who moved to Canada from Egypt with her family in 2016, the weather inspired a sense of purpose. “I thought, ‘winter is so cold here, why don’t you have heaters in the bus stops?’” recalls May, who taught interior design at Egypt’s Alexandria University for more than 15 years before leaving her home country. “When you come from another place, the first thing you see are the challenges for you,” says May, who is now a professor at Fanshawe College. “I thought I could help solve this problem.”
Research is her passion, and soon May began collaborating with other researchers from the U.S., United Kingdom and Egypt. Last fall she presented their results at Fanshawe College’s Research and Innovation Day – a modern bus stop complete with heat, WiFi, solar panels and wind turbines.
“Design is supposed to help people not just be beautiful, but to help the community you are in,” says May.
She says the transition to life in a new country was not always easy. Her kids missed their family back home. Her positive attitude and determination were the key to fulfill her ambitious. Her experience was positive. She found work within a week of beginning her search, and she encourages other newcomers to stay positive and to never give up.
Her family made new connections, her kids have a diverse group of friends and May is happy about the opportunities they have here. She says her family appreciates the diversity in London. “We have to explore, engage and share our experience.”
Along with devoting her research to helping community, May devotes her free time when she can, volunteering with her kids’ school whenever possible.
“I’m rewarded for helping people because I feel the appreciation,” says May. “Work from your heart, and good things will happen.