Could you tell us about your background?
My name is Jerusalem Tesfai. I was born in 1980 in Addis Ababa. I came to Eritrea in 1982 with my parents. That time, with due to the repression by the Ethiopian occupation force, it was very difficult to live in Asmara and we were forced to flee the country and go to Sudan in 1985. And from Sudan I along with my two sisters and mother we were settled in the US.
What happened then?
We joined school. In the beginning we found it hard to learn the language but later we learned the English language the hard way. Life was also very difficult. But through time we were able to settle our life.
The students were very outstanding and I had to exert extra power to compete. But with hard work and strong will I was able to finish my secondary school education. I was also assisting my sisters because I was in a better position than they were.
I finally received a scholarship to study Bio-chemistry for five years. In my college years I had to face many challenges because I was the only black student. Besides the very fact I was female I had to endure extra challenges. Bu I finally I came out successful.
After that my inclination was to conduct researches on different medical aspects with regards human bones. To this end I started working as an assistant to one professor on that field of study. We were conducting research on rats to study on how and how much time does it for a bone to fix. After conducting three years research I was back to school. And that was the time I started to follow the situation in my country. I joined the YPFDJ. When you are not in your country working in an organized manner is the only way of working. If you are going to say “I am an Eritrean” you have to ask who you are and understand your culture and history. When I was a kid I had all the picture of country. When I was in Sudan we had the chance of observing cultural troupes performing and attending seminars and with that I had the understanding on what was going on in my country.
What activities were you performing?
I was telling my school mates about the situation in Eritrea. I was also conducting seminars. We were also including with us some African Americans. We also participate in their activities as part of exchanging experiences.
Let us go back to your education. You said you were back to school.
I joined college for my PHD. I learned for another five years. And again with hard work I was able to succeed.
What is the purpose of your coming here?
I had a dream that after completing my education to come to Eritrea and contribute something. And I decided to come before I start working because if I did start work I won’t have much time.
And I am here to teach at Orota Medical School for a year.
So how do you feel for you are realizing your dream?
Very exited. And I feel satisfaction for realizing my dream and living with my people. I was also able to see first hand historical places. And I am very glad.
Thank you very much!