James Y. Dzansi - From Ghana to a freezer
“Already as a young child I told my mother that I wanted to be a teacher. My mum got alarmed and asked me: ‘Why a teacher? Don´t you want to be a lawyer or a medical doctor?´ But I loved my teachers and the way they explained things to me so I wanted to be a teacher."
James Dzasig describes himself as a highly motivated, compassionate person, who is lazy but always finishes what he has started. James grew up in a crowded town in Ghana, Africa, one of the so-called developing countries. He comes from a big family but his parents have managed to encourage all of their children to study.
“It is almost the rule of the family to go to university. My youngest sister hasn´t started yet, because she is too young, but when the time comes, she will have to go."
James' father used to tell his children that:
“If you do not travel you think that what you have around you is the best. But if you travel you can learn to understand people and their cultures and then you also see the weaknesses in your own institutions."
Sweden is the first country James traveled to outside of Africa. When he was a child he did not dream of visiting Scandinavia, partly because of what one of his teachers told him about the differences in temperature between tropical Africa and the Scandinavian countries:
“Imagine a deep freezer and a fridge. When it is summer in Scandinavia it is like entering the fridge but when it is winter it is like living in the deep freezer."
James came to Jönköping in August 2004 when the Swedish institute gave him a scholarship to study in the master program in Economics at JIBS. He had no plans to stay in Sweden to pursue his PhD, he just wanted to finish quickly and go back to Ghana. But during one of his last days at JIBS he was offered a position as a research assistant at the Economics department.
“So I did not go home to Ghana. I accepted the position and unpacked again."
James only worked as a research assistant for three and a half months before he was offered a PhD-position and he started his studies in January 2006. During his years in Sweden, James has had many occasions to reflect on the differences between Ghana and Sweden. For instance he noticed at an early stage that the social rules are different. One of the positive things about being a doctoral student, according to James, is the opportunity to travel to international conferences. Last year James was in Japan. He thought it was very interesting to just look at people and learn about their culture:
“Old traditions have helped Japan to develop but we have a lot of primitive culture in Ghana too and I do not see it as helping the development. So it was interesting to see it in Japan."
James' dream was to become a teacher and it seems like he is living his dream.
“I would like to see how much I can follow in my professors´ footsteps. Maybe I do not have the same capacity as they have, but just trying to get close to where they are is the dream. If I do succeed in getting where they are, I will have a new dream. But if I do not reach that goal, I will still be happy, because they are urging me to try my best at all times."