I was a Muslim, born in Vancouver to immigrants who came with nothing. I grew up in Edmonton amongst a small group of visible minority kids, yet I was president of my student union in my elementary, junior high and high schools. I got a first-class education at the best university in the country, which enabled me to follow my passion.
Aly-Khan Rajani (BA, 2002), Counsellor/Head of (Development) Co-operation at the Canadian Embassy in Lebanon, says he was fortunate to have been born in Canada. As Muslims in a predominantly Hindu society, his ancestors fled from India to Africa. Then his parents were expelled from Uganda in 1972 because they were Asian. “I knew from a young age that serving humanity was my calling,” says Rajani.
He says the International Development Studies program at U of T Scarborough kick-started his career in development and diplomacy by exposing him to international experts and academics — and to real work experience. Since his first co-op placement at UTSC, he has been a first responder in numerous international crises.
“I’ve been able to use my education to assist people when they need it the most,” says Rajani, “be it working for the UN, an NGO or the Government of Canada.” Through these experiences he feels he has learned, first-hand, the value of maintaining people’s dignity.
Rajani says it’s an honour for him to work on the humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis and the reopening of Canada’s assistance program (aid) office in Lebanon. “Beirut is an amazing city with diversity and pluralism at the heart of what keeps the country united, which is similar to (cities in) Canada.