Patrick Asare grew up alongside 15 siblings in Ghana in a small village where most people could not read and no one received an education beyond middle school. His dream of further education took him to Ukraine during the Chernobyl accident, the Soviet Union when it fell and eventually to Buffalo, New York, where he discovered that the American Dream was not what he had imagined, especially for Black children.

“I came in with a very romantic view of America, but the reality is quite different,” Asare said.

Asare chronicled this journey in a book, “The Boy From Boadua – One African’s Journey of Hunger and Sacrifice in Pursuit of a Dream,” which he will read from at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick in an event hosted by Gulf of Maine Books. Asare will do a reading at Longfellow Books in Portland at 5:15 p.m. June 3.

It is a book that Asare hopes will give children, no matter their circumstances, hope and motivation to dream and follow their dreams.

Asare was first offered admission to a university in Ghana, but due to financial barriers he was unable to attend. Later, he received a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union, where he lived from 1985 to 1991.

He came to America in pursuit of a master’s degree in engineering, but first taught at a high school in Buffalo. There he was baffled to see American youths’ defeated attitudes about education and the opportunities available to them, he said, because he had always thought the U.S. was a place where anyone could succeed.


“I did not understand the underlying factors of broken homes, growing up with parents that are absent in their lives, poverty and racism,” Asare said in an interview with The Forecaster.

“The idea most of us have about America is that this is the wealthiest country on Earth, so my idea was that this is a place where people live comfortable lives without the tensions and strife in other countries,” he said.

He had learned about the history of slavery and racism in the U.S., he said, but he “had no idea that it was still such a big factor.”

During his time teaching, he said he came to understand the obstacles his Black students faced, and it reminded him of people in his home village who felt it was useless to try to overcome the many odds stacked against them.

Even though he is Black and grew up with very few resources, it was difficult at times to bridge the gap between himself as someone born in Africa and Black kids growing up in the U.S.

“Sometimes the tension is, ‘you didn’t grow up here, so how can you claim to understand my plight?'” he said. “When I talk to a poor child in Buffalo and I describe the fact that I grew up in a similarly poor place in Ghana, the attitude is, ‘yeah, you grew up in Ghana, but you weren’t surrounded by white people who kept you down all the time,'” he said. “I have to be mindful of that. I haven’t had to deal with some of these negative feelings right from birth.”


Asare began writing his book with his former Buffalo students in mind. He wants young people who read it to take away a message of hope and optimism.

“A lot of kids give up before they’ve even started,” he said, which he believes is “the worst thing you can do.”

He wants children to see that disadvantages are not “permanent barriers that they can never get over,” and hopes they can find a sense of empowerment and belief in themselves and their dreams.

“I started writing it with children in mind, but I’ve been surprised at how people find the lessons in building resiliency,” he said.

He has lived in the U.S. for 31 years. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1995 and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in 2003. He is now a principal analyst at UGI Energy Services, a diversified energy services firm in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his family.

He said his ability to put things into perspective from the variety of experiences and environments he’s lived in, “has been very helpful for me as I’ve navigated this society the last 31 years.”

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