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Portrait Akram Elborashi (Photo: Hannah Theile / University of Magdeburg)
28.11.2022 from 
Campus + City
Mediator(s) between cultures and nationalities

One could hardly wish for a better student to embody the motto, ‘Rethinking the world together’ than Akram Elborashi. As an Egyptian medical student with, at times, a record FOUR jobs at the university, he shows how one person can have a positive influence on life for foreign students all over Magdeburg. I meet Akram at the site of one of his previous jobs, in the Medical Library. The employees at the counter welcome him and he takes out a key for a room so that we can chat undisturbed. Even a bare workroom seems like a cheerful place thanks to Akram’s positive presence - no wonder that so many foreign students trust in his support.

He has been enrolled at the University of Magdeburg since the 2015/16 winter semester, but before this he had to fight hard to study. After completing his high school diploma in Egypt he began to pursue a degree in medicine in his homeland, but he soon noticed that the very theoretical program did not satisfy him. “I just need to interact with people,” confesses Akram with a laugh. And he certainly has had the chance to do so since he has been studying in Magdeburg! This is because all of his jobs to date at the University have been in direct contact with people with the aim of helping and offering support.

Alongside his job in the Medical Library, he has also worked as a tutor for first semester students at the university in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In these roles he was often the first point of contact for international students in Magdeburg and supported them not only at the beginning of their studies but also in settling in to their new environment. But that is not all! Outside of his academic and professional career, Akram Elborashi has also demonstrated a long-term commitment to the international community in Magdeburg, both voluntarily and privately.

For example, he is also involved in the Muslim Community at the Katherinenturm, where he helps organize Friday Prayers. Apart from this, he also, among other things, supports newly arrived Syrian families with advice, translation services and administrative matters. But even if he is not officially acting as a mediator between cultures and nationalities, even when he is just Akram - if somebody is newly arrived in Magdeburg and needs help, then the chances are that somebody will advise them that “Akram has been here for a couple of years, you can ask him.”

With all his many roles and voluntary assistance work, it is hard to believe that the same person could also still be an extremely successful medical student too. But it is the truth, since at the time of our chat, the young man is feeling confident about the outcome of his second State Examination, even if the results have not yet been published. He has every reason to be optimistic, since alongside his extraordinary social commitment, it was his academic performance that led to him receiving the Otto von Guericke Bursary in 2021. The bursary, which is worth €6,000, was a great help as he prepared for the second State Examination.

Dr. Lutz Trümper, Akram Elsayed Abdellatif Elborashi und Prof. Dr. Helmut Weiß bei der Urkundenübergabe des Otto von Guericke Stipendiums (c) Landeshauptstadt MagdeburgThe former mayor, Dr. Lutz Trümper, Akram Elsayed Abdellatif Elborashi and Prof. Dr. Helmut Weiss, Vice-President for Academic Development and Financial Planning at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, during the presentation of the award. (Photo: State Capital of Magdeburg)

“Thanks to the bursary it was possible for me to work less during the most intensive learning phase, and that made things a lot easier,” he reports. After all, for a State Examination like this, it is certainly not enough to start revising one week beforehand. “I made a 100-day study plan, completely structured a third of a year,” explains the prospective doctor, and the long shadow cast by the memory darkens his otherwise friendly face. Alongside studying and working, he also had other obligations, although they were nice ones.

In 2021 he and his wife had a child - a little daughter. “I would never have managed without my wife,” explains Akram, and that is anything but an empty figure of speech. Her flexibility allowed the trained veterinarian to implement his 100-day study plan. Akram’s family - that is his parents and siblings - is also involved in the medical sector, although they are “all pharmacists”. He has always been more interested in the illnesses than the medications. He became aware of the subject at an early age due to his mother suffering from diabetes.

During his studies he has specialized in ophthalmology. In answer to the question, why specifically ophthalmology, he replies “I have worn glasses since I was a small child. When I visited the doctor I always wanted to be on the other side, to use the machines myself and carry out the tests.” This dream has now come true; during his studies he completed his clinical traineeship in an ophthalmic practice, and now, after the second State Examination, for one of the three trimesters he will again spend four months working in his area of choice.

With all these obligations and activities, it is hard to imagine him ever being at leisure. So instead of asking him what he does in his free time, I ask him if he has such a thing as free time at all! “Not really,” he answers smiling. “But if I do, then I like to play chess.” He began playing as a youngster in Egypt and now continues his fascination when he has the time. Not without pride, he tells me about his last tournament, in which he achieved a DWZ (German Evaluation Number) of around 2000. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I am very impressed. Not only by his chess skills, but by Akram as a person.

And what does ‘Rethinking the world together’ mean for him? “For me it means that the world consists of different cultures and identities. Conflicts arise because of distance. If we come closer together, communicate our problems better and celebrate what we have in common more, then perhaps we could prevent conflicts from the very start.”