When Asif Khan retired, one of his students wrote to him, “it has been a privilege being your student, because you taught us so much more than physics.” This sentiment reflects Mr. Khan’s deeply held belief that a teacher should help students appreciate the value of different perspectives.
“It is so important to explore and accept multiple points of view,” says Mr. Khan. “Life is richer when we understand other cultures and beliefs.” Mr. Khan learned the benefits of diverse experiences early on. Born in Nepal, he spent his childhood and youth in India and Pakistan, before completing post-graduate work in advanced physics at the University of London. From there, he taught at Trinity College in Ireland, was a professor in Malta, and held an academic administration role at a newly built university in Libya. He then joined the science department at TFS in 1981, primarily teaching physics.
With his approachable style, Mr. Khan was an immediate success. He made a substantial contribution over the years, such as entering a team in the International Physics Olympiad, which made TFS the first school in Canada to participate in the prestigious international competition. He remembers his experiences with students fondly, including a solar energy contest, which his team won by cooking a hotdog with a parabolic mirror.
He also remembers a 1992 cultural trip to Boston, when some students wanted to see a Blue Jays game. “A small group asked me if they could attend a game at Fenway Park,” he recalls. “I helped them arrange it and we made a huge sign. It was so much fun – even when the Boston fans threw food at us!”
In retirement, Mr. Khan and his wife, Anne, have actively supported earthquake and flood relief in Pakistan and India. They also travel widely, including an excursion to Antarctica planned for next fall. Mr. Khan, who will be 79 in March, has been to 57 countries in his lifetime.
Mr. Khan keeps in touch with former students and colleagues through Facebook, email and events at the school. He looks back on his 25-year career at TFS fondly. “I had a beautiful time,” he says. “Everyone I met and worked with was wonderful.”