Article by Sami A Ibrahim & Magda Danish
Sami Ibrahim was born in the great city of Alexandria. As a child and a teenager, he traveled extensively with his dad, a highly regarded chief mechanical engineer of the Egyptian Railroad System, visiting every major city in the Delta and the Suez Canal regions; the Upper Sinai coast all the way to Gaza and the Northern coast all the way to Marsa Matrouh.
Sami earned his BS degree from Ain Shams University then went on to pursue his graduate education at the University of Alberta in Canada (1959) and UC Davis (1961) where he met Marie, a native San Fraciscan and now his wife of 46 years.
For almost two years, he was a quality control junior chemist at the Shell Chemical Company in Martinez, CA. He then moved to the Bay area around 1967 where, for the past 4 decades, he has been studying and teaching analytical, organic and general chemistry at San Jose State University, Evergreen Valley College, and San Jose City College. Sami’s research deals with computer applications in chemistry and with Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), a cooperative and collaborative learning approach. His last submission, “Predicting the Atomic Weights of the Trans-Lawrencium Elements: A Novel Application of Deberiner’s Triad”, was featured in the Journal of Chemical Education. He is currently Emeritus Chemistry Professor at San Jose City College, serving on the Steering Committee of the Los Altos Voices for Peace (LAVP), the father of Mark, Magda and Mona and the blessed grandfather of six granddaughters and one grandson.
In the wake of 9/11 shocking events, Sami formed and chaired the Annual Middle Eastern Heritage Celebration Planning Group at San Jose City College with an aim to inform and educate the college community about the history, rich culture, and the aspirations of the people of Egypt and the Middle East. He recently acted as the Coordinator of Egypt’s 2010 Education Journey, an educational trip to Egypt which took place January 5-21, 2010 and which was the culmination of his 10-year tenure as Chair of the Annual Middle Eastern Heritage Celebration Planning Group at SJCC.
Planning for this educational Journey began in the summer of 2008 with three volunteers in charge: Dr. Gerry Grudzen, Professor of philosophy and comparative religions at SJCC, Sami Ibrahim and Egypt Consultant Dr. AbdulMawgoud Dardery, Professor of Humanities at South Valley University in Luxor and the Metropolitan State University in Minnesota.
During the months of October and November 2009, three general orientation meetings were held at SJCC and a fourth meeting was held at the Egyptian Museum of San Jose, covering a brief history of Egypt, common Arabic phrases, customs and cultural differences.
49 travelers signed up for the all inclusive 16-day trip which included overseas flight, all lodging, admission fees to museums and historic sites, two outstanding local guides, a Sleeper Train from Cairo to Luxor, Nile Cruise Ship from Luxor to Aswan, Tour Bus from Aswan to Abu Simbel, flight from Aswan to Cairo and tour bus from Cairo to Alexandria.
Dr. AbdulMawgoud Dardery, the trip’s local consultant, was instrumental in coordinating and facilitating visits to prominent Egyptian institutions and service organizations such as Al-Azhar University, Islam Online Institute, the College of Fine Arts in Luxor, Generation of Hope Institute, the University of Alexandria and the Bibliotecha Alexandrina where the group was treated to a VIP tour of the Library and a reception hosted by HE Hagar El Islambouli (1), Head of External Affairs at BA and former Egypt Consul General in San Francisco.
Participants also visited museums, historic sites, churches, mosques and synagogues in Cairo, Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan, AbuSimbel and Alexandria. They attended presentations on “Islam & Misconcepts”, and “The Alexandria Model of Tolerance and Coexistence”. Some faculty members had special meetings with the President of the Alexandria University and her staff, and the vice-president of the Al-Azhar University and his staff, in order to lay the ground for future cooperation.
As a result, progress is now underway for the Conference on “Globalization for the Common Good and Dialogue of Civilizations” which will be hosted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in June 2011.
Some faculty and students will be invited to give presentations, about their experiences in Egypt, during the 10th Annual Middle Eastern Heritage Celebration program at SJCC (April 12-22, 2011) and last but not least, San Jose City College is now part of a consortium that has recently received a 3 year grant from the US Department of Education to establish new courses in Middle Eastern studies (History, Arabic language, etc.)
Hats off to Sami Ibrahim for what he calls “a modest attempt to bridge the gap between the citizens of two great nations, and in doing so it is to be hoped that we will be able to refute the myth of the clash of civilizations”.