East-West Center Oral History Project: Ekramul Ahsan

Ekramul Ahsan

Abu Asgar Mohammed Ekramul Ahsan signed up for a Fulbright fellowship but ended up an EWC grantee in 1966.  Arriving in Honolulu, he suffered one cultural shock after another (lei-giving-girls kissing him, Americans' accents and their food).  At UH, he obtained a Ph.D in Agricultural Resource Economics studying the economics of tuna fishing and also helped start up the new UH Sea Grant College Program.  His EWC experience taught him research tools, research project management skills, and allowed him to travel and study at universities on the US mainland.  From 1976-1981 Ahsan worked as a senior fellow in EWC's Food and Resource Systems Institutes.  After returning to Bangladesh he served as Chief Economist, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute and then became Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, and later Rector of the new Public Administration Training Center.  He retired from Bangladesh government service in 1996 as Director General, Bangladesh Jute Research Institute.  Currently he is evaluating the European Commission's Equality Food Security Programme and is an EWC Alumni Chapter Leader.       


Read Ahsan's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC
  • Life at EWC - The Mid-‘60s - Host Family Experience - UH/EWC Campus, Mid-‘60s - Marriage at EWC - Best Memories - Asia-America Seminar
  • Life After EWC - Rice Research in Bangladesh - Establishing a University
  • Partnerships and Networks
  • EWC’s Impact - On Personal Life, Career


Interview Quotes
[Upon arriving at Honolulu Airport ]
"As I came out, to my great surprise, I found one young girl gave me a lei, and kissed me.  It was another kind of cultural shock, because I never expected that I would be greeted with a kiss from an unknown young girl."

"I attended many such short (EWC) programs after coming back from Honolulu getting my degrees.  I was a member of a number of international and regional research programs of the East-West Center.  I was also a Senior Fellow of the then East-West Food Institute and Resources System Institute.  We have programs involving India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Japan, Thailand, Guam and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.  The concept of regional program actually started at that time.  Through these regional programs we tried to address common problems.  These have been very good things. The credit goes to the East-West Center first."


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.