Maisam studied to become a doctor in Afghanistan and worked as a journalist before migrating to Canada in 2009. He had been writing articles for the local online media and served as a correspondent for newspapers and magazines in the USA and Germany before leaving the country to continue his studies in Ottawa.
"Seven years ago I won a scholarship of the Open Society Institute to do a Master’s programme in Health Communications at the University of Ottawa. I thought a lot whether to go or to stay. Our culture is very much family based and for an Afghan it is not that easy to say good-bye to the relatives and embark on a long journey."
The excellent results of Maisam secured him a new PhD scholarship in 2011. However, his integration has not gone that smoothly.
"The cultural differences affected me overtime. Back home the society puts the group and the family before the individual. In Canada, what I found was the opposite. In Afghanistan you could always go to a place where your friends or relatives have a tea and discuss daily matters or politics. On many occasions, I initiated conversations with other people but at the end of the day I was feeling lonely because everyone was going their own direction. But the Canadians are hospitable in their own ways. They invite us for Thanksgiving and Christmas and treat us as they would treat their children."
The plan of Maisam is to continue following his path in the academia. Recently, he started a research on the health systems of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
"I think I gained a lot but I also lost things. I lost the close connection to my family and I missed the opportunity to become a doctor in Afghanistan. At the same time what I have gained could be applied not only in my country but in the whole world. I feel that I am becoming a global citizen. To serve the poor people wherever they are is as important to me as serving my own people in Afghanistan. My origins are there, I live in Ottawa, but the world is what I call home."