From Africa to America: One Airman's journey around the world

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
When people first meet Airman 1st Class Paul Ofori-Asenso, they often think he is from Jamaica by his accent, but he has lived in many parts of the world and experienced different cultures.

"I get asked the question of where I am from people all the time and I have one response for them," said Airman Ofori, 23rd Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management flight household goods. "I tell them this is my own accent because I am from my own place- I am a citizen of the world."

Airman Ofori came from the country of Ghana located in West Africa and was the second youngest of five brothers and one sister.

When he was very young, Airman Ofori and his family moved to London to live in a small suburb. During this time, he picked up a sport that would change his life.

"At an early age I was introduced to the game of soccer," he said. "My brother and I would go outside to kick the ball around. We were never coached or joined a team we just wanted to play for fun and this grew into something more."

When he was 11 years old, his family picked up and moved back to Ghana. It was at that time he realized his talent for soccer and began to receive scholarships to play at different places across Ghana.

However, Airman Ofori decided instead of pursuing a soccer career, he would to move to the United States at 18 years old and continue his education. That's when his father entered him into the Diversity Immigrant Visa program.

The program grants immigrants from underrepresented countries and those adversely affected by the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 to receive a special immigration benefit.

Airman Ofori was chosen as one of the people to receive a permanent resident card and he made his first entrance into the country to begin his education.

"The reason I wanted to come to the United States was because they provide one of the best education in the world," said Airman Ofori. "I knew that if I wanted to succeed, an education in here would be the best way."

As he worked toward his degree to become a nurse at Cincinnati State College, Ohio, he was told he would have to possibly wait three years to begin the clinical part of the program.

"I told them that it was unacceptable because there was no way I could put my life on hold for that long," Airman Ofori said. "That's when I made the choice to enter the military."

Military life is nothing new to Airman Ofori because it has been a part of his family for a long time, starting with his father who was in the Ghanaian air force for 10 years. Two of his brothers joined the British military and one is still currently serving as a flight crew engineer.

"I first wanted to join the U.S. Marines, but when I told my father this, he told me there was no way and that the Air Force was the best choice," said Airman Ofori. "As I graduated basic training, that was one of the greatest moments of my life that's because that's when my father told me for the first time that he was proud of me.

"My father changing my mind was one of the best choices he has helped me make in my life because I knew that if I joined the Marines I would not had such a great opportunity to further my education," he added. "People ask why I didn't join the Ghanaian air force and I tell them the opportunities in the U.S. Air Force are greater than what I could have received in Ghana."

When Airman Ofori arrived at Moody in August 2010, the first place he visited was the soccer fields.

"It had been a long time since I played soccer when I arrived on base, with everything going on in my life I just didn't have the time," he said. "I wanted to focus on my education which made soccer just a hobby of mine.

"After I was here for awhile I realized that I had missed soccer," he added. "I decided I would join the base soccer team to get back into a passion I love and a passion that my father supports."

Airman Ofori spoke of his father as a strong man now at the age of 67, but still very active playing soccer and working like a "young man."

"My son has changed so much since he joined the military," said Emmanuel Ofori- Asenso. "I know now that I can trust him and rely on him."

Now at the age of 24, Airman Ofori has been to places all around the world experiencing different cultures and different people. He is able to speak five languages. These include English, Twi, (the native language of Ghana), Jamaican Patwa, Pidgin, (a form of English slang spoken by Nigerians), and Hausa, a language that is spoken by Muslims in Africa.

Airman Ofori's plans for the future are unclear to him. The choices to become an officer or to separate are in the back of his mind, but there's one thing he is sure about.

"Education is the key to everything," he said. "That is part of the legacy you leave behind- your knowledge."