Edwin Adjei is a second year PhD candidate in African Studies from the University of Ghana. He won a Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship to spend the Fall 2016 semester at Laurier, where he worked under the joint supervision of Dr. Tanis MacDonald and Dr. Mariam Pirbhai. During this time, Edwin attended graduate and undergraduate courses, while developing his dissertation proposal in the areas of West African Young Adult literature and gender studies. Edwin’s time at Laurier was a mutually enriching experience for his faculty supervisors, graduate peers and fellow students. We were delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful student exchange run by the office of Laurier International and the Tshepo Institute of African Studies. Please find below Edwin’s account of his experience as a QEII scholar at Laurier. (Introductory note by Mariam Pirbhai)
My name is Edwin Adjei (BA Hons, English and Sociology; M.Phil, African Studies) and a Queen Elizabeth II Scholar at WLU for a semester. I am currently a second year PhD candidate at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. My time at the English department of WLU gave meaning to the proverb, “knowledge is like the baobab tree; no one person’s arm can encircle it.” As a student with a background in African Studies, and no knowledge of Canadian literature, my expectations were high as well as my anxiety. My time at Laurier not only broadened my knowledge in my thesis area but also offered me the opportunity to meet and network with students and scholars from around the world, as well as providing a lot of knowledge about the Canadian academy and culture.
I took courses in Creative writing (poetry) with Dr. Tanis MacDonald, and Narratives of Empire and South-Asian Canadian Literature with Dr. Mariam Pirbhai. I could not help but look forward to each lecture as the approach to teaching was not only captivating but also highly enlightening. Sharing ideas with my coursemates and learning from professors who displayed high competence in their field made me relish each moment in class. Coming from a different background, what made me enjoy my time at the English department most was how the professors in my class made time to lay the foundation for their expectations concerning my assignments. They not only laid the foundation but aided me step by step as I gradually adapted to my classes and the requirements for the Canadian academy. This was because they recognized the effect people’s educational and cultural backgrounds have on their approach to their studies and life and therefore aided in the transition from the Ghanaian to the Canadian curricula with lots of encouragement and direction on the transition process and academic progress.
Most important was the help of my professors in shaping my thoughts in relation to my thesis which was at its beginning stages when I came to Wilfrid Laurier University. They were so instrumental in laying the background for my thesis that I was able to complete a first draft of my proposal within the first two months of my stay in Canada. In addition to this, they were very helpful with suggestions on how I can be a better student and academic. Finally, they noticed my challenges with aspects of my academic writing and took time to offer me tutorials to help me write better in order to help me publish papers easily in North America which was very important as publications are the lifeblood of a successful academic career.
Overall, my time in the English department of Wilfrid Laurier University equipped me with valuable insights and intellectual experience that has further enhanced my interest in teaching and research as I envisage becoming an astute researcher engaging with other scholars in emerging areas of multi-disciplinary research with an emphasis on literature and performance. I also believe that my multicultural experience in the English department will make me a better teacher as in an increasingly multicultural global community, multicultural experience enhances one’s ability to embrace other cultures and be able to better interact with people of other cultures and experiences and enhance interactions with people of all cultures in order to be able to better serve society and the world.