Why he's a 2016 Top 40:
In addition to helping young minds flourish as a teacher at Discovering Choices High School, Sajan is connecting people all over the world with learning opportunities. He has also helped bring TEDxCalgary to life.
photograph by jared sych. Photographed at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.
When work-experience teacher Rahim Sajan introduces himself to new students at Discovering Choices High School, a Calgary Board of Education outreach school with more than 1,400 students, he says he’s a PQAWET.
“I tell them ‘I’m a Professional Question-Asker and a Work-Experience Teacher. You’ve never met a professional question-asker, have you?’” Sajan says. From there, he starts to form relationships with the students to uncover their dreams and help them succeed, something he estimates he’s done with more than 300 youths at his downtown placement.
His passion for connecting his students with opportunities to grow and succeed can be traced back to what Sajan believes was lacking from his own childhood in Tanzania. “I was a pretty bright kid, but I didn’t have anything to latch onto,” he says. When he was 15, he and his family moved to Canada, and now, more than 20 years later, Sajan is giving marginalized students something they can latch onto through his work.
For one at-risk Calgary student, this meant helping him on his chosen career path as a carpenter. Sajan got him enrolled in a free, first-year apprenticeship program at SAIT. “I’m proud of that because this is a kid who was falling through the cracks, and this could change his life,” Sajan says.
Sajan’s passion for connecting people to opportunities extends into his other endeavours. As founder of the Resourceful Human Project, he is creating a website that maps learning opportunities for people within communities all over the world. His passion for education and learning has also earned him a spot on the University of Calgary’s Senate, a three-year appointment where he helps foster student interest and serves as a link between the university and the public.
As a curator for TEDxCalgary since it began in 2009, Sajan has brought together great minds to share and discuss ideas. The TEDxCalgary events have so far produced 94 TEDxTalks that have reached more than 100,000 people. TEDxCalgary also hosts monthly meet-ups.
Sajan’s goal with TedxCalgary is to connect as many people as possible, an ambition that seems to cross over into everything he does. Whether it’s the Resourceful Human Project or just working to match students with opportunities, he knows how important it is for people to come together. — Andrew Guilbert