George Bernard Dantzig was a doctoral candidate at Berkeley University in 1939, one day he arrived late for graduate level statistics class and found two problems on the blackboard. He mistook them for a homework and tried to solve them. They were very hard and took more time than expected to solve, then handed them to his professor Jerzy Neyman with an apology for the late submission. Few weeks later Professor Neyman knocked on Georg’s door and told him: you know what you did? These were examples of “unsolvable” statistical problems and you solved them, and asked George to put them in his thesis and he will write an introduction and will get his PHD.
The moral of the story is that George was lucky to arrive late to the class so he didn’t suffer from the mental block that prevented his peers from trying to solve these problems after the professor told them that they are “unsolvable”.
This story reminded me when I first met an Egyptian civil engineer at a friend’s house just after we migrated to Canada. I happily told my friend that I passed the computer exam and taking some driving lessons to apply for the road test and get my driving licence. This Guy looked at me with a sarcastic smile on his face and said: I failed many times and it took my one full year to get my driving licence, although I was driving in Egypt for years. After four lessons my instructor told me; you are ready and he drove to the road test centre and told me: go to this police officer and tell him that you just migrated to Canada and got a job but driving licence is a condition for hiring. I told the officer the story and he said get your car and go for the test now??? I was stunned from his quick response because at that time the waiting list was about 3 months. I passed and got my driving licence. I met the same guy again at our friend’s house and told him that I got my driving licence and actively looking for a job and sending my resume engineering companies. His response was that it is just good luck to get my licence that soon. Then he added that he has been looking for an engineering job for 3 years and sent over a 100 resume with no results. At the end; this guy left Canada and returned to Alexandria with his wife and kids although his wife was very successful in establishing a catering business and wanted to stay.
Other Egyptians told me that you need to change your name because with a name like “Mohamed” you won’t find a job? I was determined not to change my name and find a job. It was not easy in 1992 where internet was not available and I have to go to the library to check “Scott Directory” for the address and contact names and phone of companies in GTA. I used to mail my resume and follow up with phone calls and many times I went myself and handed it to the responsible manager. One time a manager in an automotive company told me: I like your persistence and if I have any opening I will call you. I didn’t stop and went to the unemployment centre and asked the admin for help in finding a job so she asked my; are you on welfare? I said no, then she asked did you get laid off, I replied no because I am a new immigrant who was always working in my country of origin and try to find a job in Canada. She said sorry we can’t help you so my voice tone was louder from anger and told her you have to help new comers find a job otherwise you will end up with high rate of unemployed immigrant if you don’t help them. The manage was passing by and asked me to come to his office. I told him I was always employed in Egypt and wanted to be useful and contribute to my adopted country, and only need guidance in my search for jobs. He gave me the name, address and phone numbers of a coop programme and me and my wife applied and get accepted after passing an English language test. They taught us how to write our resume and how to pass interviews and presentations about Canadian workplaces and expected behaviour. My wife got a job within few weeks and I got a placement in an automotive company for 3 months (with no pay) and they offered me a job. Out of a class of 40 people only me and another Egyptian engineer got jobs, although some of these people had been in Canada for years. That was my first job in Canada then I applied for university courses and was attending night classes to be able to apply for higher positions and so did my wife. We had to take our coursed in different days so one of us has to be with the kids to take care of them. It wasn’t easy but we did it to managerial positions and lived comfortably.
My advice to new immigrants; don’t stay around people with negative energy or depressed from their failures because they will tell you all these disappointing stories which will create a mental block for you and will not be able to succeed. Some minority groups whether Muslims, blacks, Buddhists or whatever had that feeling of discrimination “mental Block” which prevent them from reaching their potentials and will spend all their life in Canada working menial work and complain all the time and dreaming of going back to heaven (their country of origin).
Dear new immigrant: Try to mingle with positive energy and optimistic people who succeeded because hope and optimism are contagious.