Faraz Falsafi was honoured on Friday, Jan. 24, in a simple but poignant ceremony held at the School of Computer Science, where he earned a Master’s degree in 2015. The words that kept coming up to describe Falsafi, one of 176 people who died aboard Flight 752 out of Tehran, were kind, gentle and intelligent.
“He was very, very bright,” said Doina Precup, associate professor at the School of Computer Science who was Falsafi’s supervisor. “He already had a Master’s degree when he came to McGill but he really wanted to make a life in Canada. He wanted to study machine learning back in the days when machine learning wasn’t that popular and our group was much smaller. He really felt like it was important to work on applications that would benefit people using machine learning. Faraz was very quiet, very gentle. He never bragged and was very understated.”
“Kind, intelligent, gentle, quiet, shy, hard-working, resourceful, respectful and a really nice guy. These are the words I think of when I think of Faraz,” said Joseph Vybihal, a Faculty Lecturer at the school of Computer Science, who was Falsafi’s supervisor at a startup company.
During the memorial, a slideshow ran through pictures of Falsafi. Vybihal pointed to a picture of himself and Falsafi that flashed upon the wall. “This picture should’ve been my idea but it was his. He said ‘I want to remember you.’ I am so glad that I have this picture.”
Falsafi often visited his parents in Iran said Vybihal. “I got to meet them when they came here in Montreal and I got to see where he got his character,” noting that when his own family heard the tragic news “there were a lot of tears.”
Kaleem Siddiqi, a professor at the School of Computer Science, read messages from three former students of the School who were friends of Falsafi.
“I was deeply saddened by the news of Faraz’s passing,” read one of the messages. “He was the most peaceful, helpful and kind individual that one could imagine. I consider myself lucky to have known him. During the short time that I spent with him, I saw nothing but goodness in him. I want to cherish his memories for the life that he lived, not the way that he went. Faraz, you will be missed in our hearts but your memories will stay in our minds forever.”
Siddiqi read a note from one of Faraz’s best friends, identified as Ali. “I remember the day we first met. I remember how fast we became best friends. I remember our long talks, our loud laughs, and our heavy eating. I remember the day we were talking and laughing so hard at the Second Cup near McGill that a lady beside us remarked ‘Boy you guys must be very close friends.’
“I remember the day before you moved to Toronto, you came to McGill to visit me. I never imagined that it would be our last meeting.”
“You were always the source of kindness and calmness, you never complained about anything at all. I am sure you remained calm to the very end. The day that I saw your name on the passenger list of that flight my heart started beating so fast that I simply couldn’t speak. The world is simply a worse place without people like you.”
On January 16, Negar Borghei, a Master’s candidate in Human Nutrition who also perished aboard Flight 752, was remembered in a ceremony at Macdonald Campus.