As Raja Khouri put it: “It’s a good night to be a Canadian Arab professional”
On Thursday, August 11, over 75 of Canadian Arab professionals gathered in Page One Cafe & Bar for Happy Hour, the sold-out soft launch of the Professional Canadian Arab Network. The recently-opened venue, owned and lovingly run by Firas Arafat, served as the perfect setting for this inaugural event. With glasses clinking, food overflowing, music and laughter jangling in the background, the energy was absolutely electric.
The brainchild of the Canadian Arab Institute, PCAN was born of the desire to cultivate an inspired and engaged community by empowering Canadian Arab professionals through development, mentorship and networking opportunities.
Lara Pietrolungo, a PCAN Committee Co-Chair, offered this objective for the crowd: “If you can make two new connections this evening it will make us very happy.”
It was clear that this mission was taken to heart by the attendees. The warmth of an Arab get-together instantly made a space filled with strangers feel like home. With filmmakers and policy makers alongside engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs, any doubt about the diversity of this event dissolved quickly.
Half-way through the evening, PCAN committee members took to the stage to introduce themselves and divulge more details about PCAN’s future. Following Pietrolungo’s networking advice, Noura Zaina shared what PCAN members could look forward to in the coming year:
In the fall, the Happy Hour networking series will officially launch, taking place once a quarter. They will also be launching an industry-focused speakers’ series, along with professional development workshops and seminars. Finally, there will be an annual PCAN networking event, to celebrate PCAN and recognize the achievements of Canadian Arab professionals
The main features for membership include: 1) Exclusive access to PCAN’s member directory, 2) 25% off on all PCAN professional networking and development opportunities, 3) Invitations to private PCAN events, and 4) Special offers and discounts on CAI events.
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Upon taking the mic, Bader ElKhatib reminded the crowd of the importance of giving back: “One of the core principles that the whole Arab culture is based on is “give to get”. If we can all carry that idea and theme in our minds, during our event tonight and in the future as we move on, I think we’ll be a very successful community.”
When Raja Khouri, co-founder and President of CAI, is invited to speak, he warmly declares “This is one of the most important initiatives that CAI is launching this year”.
He went on to paint the larger picture: “At the end of the day, our ultimate objective is to have the community being visible, being successful, and being engaged in this country. It’s hard to be engaged when you're trying to find a job and knocking on doors every day. The first step in succeeding is having good work, a good career, and then you can start giving back. We want to support both sides of the equation, the lifting up of people and the giving back, so then as a community, we can succeed.”
Khouri ends it with this foreseeable goal: “At the end of this year, we’re going to have 500 members in PCAN, and you're gonna help us do that, insh’Allah”
If this evening is any indication, PCAN promises to grow into an enriching and exciting community. As Lara Pietrolungo put it: “You never know -- you might make connections tonight that could last you a lifetime. I look forward to seeing a few years down the road what happens from this inaugural event.”