#1. The course of my life:
I was born in 1946 in a miniature village,
which for the longest period of time was called
(this particular village frequently changed name).
My home village is located in the South-West
corner of Poland (close to former East Germany
and Chechoslovakia). My father was a technician with
"golden hands" skills - means he repaired everything that was
broken in tens of miles around our house, starting from watches
and clocks, through bicycles and motor vehicles, and finishing
on huge industrial gas engines that propelled water pumps in
a local waterworks plant (he actually was employed by the town council
of Milicz to operate and maintain this waterworks plant). Now I wonder
how he could put up with me, as whatever he repaired one evening,
I was dismantling the next day when he was at work, to see how
it operates, and - of course, not always I managed to put it
back so that it worked again. (Especially difficult to put back
into a working order turned out to be small watches. So after I experienced
several times how my father reacts to the view of a dismantled
watch which he repaired just a night before, I started to curb
my curiosity about finding out what makes these watches click.)
My mother was a housewife - a humble mathematical genius. She was
able to count in memory almost as fast as present computers do.
Her counting skills always kept shocking shop assistants,
providing a lot of fun for me and my sister, who used to accompany
mother in shopping expeditions. My education followed a typical
pattern for communistic Poland. Firstly (in 1953) I started a
primary school in the nearby township Milicz
(then having around 20 000 inhabitants). I completed this primary
education in 1960. Then I attended a high school (1960 to 1964), which was the
Gymnasium of General Education in Milicz. I matriculated in 1964.
The Certificate of Matriculation entitled me to undertake the
University Studies. I choose to study at the
Technical University of
in Poland, which then was one of the most renown universities
in Poland. (On the basis of my knowledge of other universities,
I personally believe that at that time it was the best university
in Poland, and also one of the best in the world.)
There was around 12 candidates per one sit at that university,
so me passing the entrance exams was a huge accomplishment.
I studied there from 1964 to 1970. After the graduation from
this university, in 1970 I was employed by the same university,
initially as a junior lecturer, then as a lecturer,
then as a senior lecturer, and finally in 1974 as a Polish
equivalent to a Reader from English style Universities. Then
a tornado of political changes swept Poland. I become a
member of Solidarity, and when Solidarity went down,
I went down with it. A "witch hunting" had started,
and my life was in danger. At some stage I was even
chased by Police and almost shot. With the
assistance of my good friends, I managed to leave Poland
and emigrate to New Zealand - before the regime managed to
catch me and send to Siberia. I landed in New Zealand in 1982.
My first job was at the
Then I worked at the
Then at the
in Dunedin. Just when the first
signs of the economic depression hit New Zealand, in 1990 I
lost the job at Otago. For the next two years I was unemployed.
Finally, in 1992 I decided to leave New Zealand and go overseas
in search of bread. I signed contracts for university professorships
initially in the
Eastern Mediterranean University
located in the city of Famagusta from Northern Cyprus, then in the
located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
and then in the
University of Malaysia Sarawak
located in the city of Kuchning from the tropical Island of Borneo.
After the "Asian Crisis" crippled
Malaysia, I managed to secure a job in New Zealand starting from
1999. Unfortunately it was for a price. Farming oriented New Zealand
does not need people with my area of technical expertise, thus it gave
me a big favour by providing me with any job at all. I landed on a
lowest academic position that was available in a tiny
from Timaru. However, at the end of 2000 I was made redundant
even from this lowest position. The reason for this redundancy,
which was communicated to me, was a rapid and unexpected
drop in student numbers. As from 12 February 2001 I started
my tutoring in the
Wellington Institute of Technology
located in the Petone suburb of the capitol of New Zealand
(i.e. Wellington), also on the lowest position of an "academic
staff member" that was available at this institution. I worked
in Wellington until 22 July 2005 - when I was made redundant
with the explanation that student numbers of this institute also
rapidly dropped down. In fact, this drop in student numbers was
so significant that I could notice it even with a naked eye - since
the beginning of 2005 classrooms of the Wellington Institute of
Technology were almost empty. After that loss of job, I never
managed to find another job in New Zealand. It also turned
out that laws in New Zealand are so designed, that people
in my situation are NOT eligible for unemployment benefits.
#2. Lecturing in many corners of the world:
In Poland there is a saying "I wish you live
in interesting times". (It supposed to originate from Chinese, but
I spend a lot of time amongst Chinese and none of them ever heard
of it.) It is a polite form of telling someone off. So instead
of swearing at this someone, or asking someone to go to hell, Poles may
politely wish this person to live in interesting times. Well, my
life turned out to be just such. I live in "interesting times",
and also I have an "interesting life". Although I never asked for it,
the fate gave me this rare opportunity to live, earn my bread, and do
my research amongst many interesting people and in many interesting
countries that are located in various distant areas of the world.
Also my life was full of adventures, constant changes and events, etc.
And so, for a period of time of not less than one year, I lived, carried
out my research, and lectured in Poland, New Zealand, Northern Cyprus,
Mainland Malaysia, Malaysian Borneo, and again in New Zealand (after my
return to New Zealand in 1999, philosophically and economically it turned
out to be a different country than the one that I left in 1992
in my search for bread). I was also a visiting scientist or
lecturer in Eastern Germany (for 2
months), Bulgaria (for 1 month), and in Chechoslovakia (for 2 weeks).
Of course, one needs to remember that earning for living in any country
provides much different experience than just visiting this country
as a tourist.
* * *
This interesting life and lecturing experience
is complemented by an interesting work in industry. For many years
I was a scientific adviser in a largest computer producing factory
of Poland, named MERA-ELWRO (this is where my programming expertise
comes from). Actually, when I used to work in the Mera-Elwro, it was
the largest computer producing factory in the Eastern Europe.
Unfortunately, later this factory was liquidated - so I am unable to
provide a link to its web page. The only thing that remained until
today, is a miniature service workshop which carries a slightly similar
name (of the
but which does NOT represent computing traditions of the Mera-Elwro
factory. Then I was a scientific consultant in a huge bus and truck
producing factory, also located in Poland and named
It employed the work force then numbering to 12 000 people. Actually,
looking now back, most of my life I spend on shifting and changing
(not because of my will, though). There is a saying "variety
is a spice of life". But how much spice one can take.
Notice that you can see the enlargement
of each photograph from this web site, simply by clicking on this photograph.
Most of the Internet browsers that you may use, including the popular "Internet Explorer",
allow also to download
each illustration to your own computer, and then look at it, reduce or enlarge
the size of it, or print it, with your own graphical software.
Fig. #2a (Z1 in [1/5]):
Here is my photo (i.e. the photo of Dr J. Pajak).
I took it for my passport on 19 July 2004. It reflects quite well how currently I look like.
Fig. #2b (J2 in ):
Myself (Dr Jan Pajak) in the "Sky Bridge" at 42nd floor of KLCC.
Photographed on 30 December 2002. The name KLCC is assigned to two
skyscrapers constructed as "twin towers" in the centre of Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. They are the only "twin towers" in the world still left standing,
which belong to the exclusive club of highest buildings in the world. The "sky
bridge" links both these towers at slightly less than half of their heights.
The positioning of this sky bridge which links both towers, is visible on the
following photograph of the entire KLCC.
Fig. #2c (C3 in ):
Here is the appearance of these famous KLCC.
By the way, KLCC is one of technical
wonders of the present world. Therefore, if you
already are in Kuala Lumpur, or somewhere near
to it, I would strongly recommend to visit it and
to see it with your own
#3. Repetitive raises and falls:
If anyone would ever be excused for having
a fatalistic outlook at life, probably I would be the one.
My entire life is arranged into continuous cycles of raises
and falls. Whatever area of my life would be considered, it
always follows the same pattern, namely firstly I gradually
build up some accomplishments in that area, then some strange
disaster comes and ruins everything, so that I need to start
everything from the very beginning, and so-on. It actually does
look like invisible "evil creatures" follow me throughout
the entire life, and make sure that everything I build laboriously
soon crushes down again. The outcome is that I never owned a
house, that most of time my entire possessions needed to fit into
a single suitcase, that after emigrating from Poland an average
span of my employment in the same place is below 3 years, and
that never I know what is going to happen tomorrow. In order
to provide an example of mechanism of these continuous raises
and falls, let us look at my employment history, which (like
everything else in my life) also follows it. Firstly I had
a satisfying job of a groundbreaking scientist at the Technical
University of Wroclaw, Poland. I quickly raised through the ranks,
starting from a junior lecturer, and within 4 years reaching the
position of a Polish equivalent to a Reader (i.e. the highest
position that a non-party member could then occupy in communistic
Poland). Then, when times started to slowly change, and a
possibility of further academic promotion started to open for me,
I was forced to run from Poland, as my life
was in a danger. In New Zealand I started from the very beginning.
Initially I was a Post-Doctorate Fellow at the University of Canterbury,
then a Senior Tutor at Southland Polytechnic, then a Senior Lecturer
at the University of Otago. But when this opened my chances for getting
even a higher position in New Zealand, I lost my job and become unemployed.
So I went overseas and got three subsequent contracts of Associate Professor.
But when in 1998 I applied for the position of a Full Professor,
and was just about to get one, again the so-called "Asian Crisis"
stroke, and chances for further employment in the country
that actually wanted someone with my area of academic and
research expertise immediately diminished. So I returned
to New Zealand and started from the lowest academic position
that existed in New Zealand at that time.
In this way, in the professional area
I already completed three separate climbing on the academic
ladder, and three subsequent falls. Of course, I am not made
of iron, so each fall feels quite badly. In my first climbing,
I raised slightly above a half way on this ladder, before
the crushing of original version of "Solidarity" in Poland brought me back to
the initial level. The second raise was to around a quarter
of the ladder, before I landed as an unemployed in New Zealand.
The third climbing of this academic ladder brought me almost to
the very top, but the third fall down that followed it
was to the present lowest position of my entire life. So now
I am standing again at the ground level of this academic
ladder, looking upwards in horror, and philosophically
deliberating what I should do next. Should I re-evaluate
my life goals and philosophy, forget the struggle, and
peacefully await retirement on the lowest academic position.
Or should I heal wounds of previous falls, replenish my
energy, and after starting to climb again, risk falling
down for the fourth time in my life. What would you do
in my position?
Fortunately, there is a bright side to all
these continuous raises and falls. This is that my life
experience is continually raising. (Mind you, my father used to
say, that "we learn all the life through, and we still die dammed".)
And this raise of experience does not seem to be subjected to
falls, like the material sides of life do. Thus, if I am to
leave any imprint behind, most probably it will be the imprint
which stems from my extraordinary course of life that I experienced.
#4. Repetitive losses of everything that I previously owned and accomplished:
Each subsequent fall-down had also this
consequence, that I was loosing then practically
everything that I previously owned and accomplished.
Apart from the knowledge and experience,
practically almost NOTHING else I could
take with me from my previous life.
For example, when in 1990 I lost my job in
New Zealand, while the economic depression
and rapid changes in the group morality
of the country disallowed me to find a
new work in there for as long as two next
years - and even deprived me the right for
an unemployment benefit, for my next wandering
throughout the world "in search of bread"
I left New Zealand with all my possessions
limited to one suitcase only - means I left exactly
the same empty-handed as I left previously
Poland (i.e. after the fall-down of "Solidarity"
near the end of 1981). With equal almost
empty-hands I also left Malaysia in 1998 -
after it was hit by the famous "Asian Crisis"
(which was claimed in there to be supposedly
induced by the greed and immorality of a
single Western financier). Thus, I perfectly-well
understand and share the pain and disappointment
of all these other people, who for some
reasons (e.g. because of earthquakes,
cataclysms, fires, revolutions, wars, greed
and immorality of other people, etc.)
also loose almost everything that they
owned before. I should add here, that
in relatively young age I lost both my
parents as well. Thus equally familiar
for me is the pain and grieving which
one feels after a loss of most loved
ones. So I really can identify with
everyone who lost someone very close.
Both above kinds of personal losses and
tragedies, i.e. my repetitive losses of
almost everything that I owned, as well
as losses of my parents, opened for me
the philosophical understanding of situations
when we loose in lives everything that is
important to us. This is why currently I do NOT
look at losses exclusively from the prospective
of a pain and personal tragedy, abut I also
see in these a motive force which releases
our hidden potentials (one amongst which
numerous potentials is realised to us
by the English proverb "what does not
kill you, will make you stronger").
#5. Multicultural experience:
During my interesting professional career
I had opportunities to work in many different counties, which
represent entirely different cultures. This allowed me to
accumulate real multicultural experience. The significant
proportion of this experience was accomplished in Asian
countries and in Asian cultures. My academic experience
includes the employment at Universities (or at Tertiary Educational
Institutions) of Poland (for 12 years), New Zealand (for 15 years),
Turkish Cyprus (for 1 year), Malaysia (for 3 years), and Malaysian
Borneo (for 2 years). During this professional globetrotting
I always tried to take part in all multicultural celebrations,
especially in colourful Malaysia. In the result, I managed to
accumulate a significant body of observations regarding customs
and culture of different nations, their philosophies and attitudes,
principles of conduct, sensitive areas, behaviours, believes,
religions, superstitions, customs, etc. I also
collected proverbs, myths, superstitions, and folklore customs of
various nations. In fact the second book which together with
my brother we recently published in Poland in two languages
under the title "Przyslowia Wschodu oraz z innych stron swiata
- Proverbs of the Orient and from other corners of the world",
Poznan (Address of the publisher: "Wydawnictwo Poznanskie", Ul. Fredry 8,
61-701 Poznan, Poland), 2003, ISBN 83-7177-273-4, 551 pages, pb,
contains a collection of around 2700 proverbs presented in two languages
- namely in English and Polish. These proverbs I managed to
accumulate during the last 12 years of my professional
engagement in various countries. A significant number of them
originates from Asian cultures, including Japan, Korea, China,
Malaysia, Dayaks of Borneo, and several others.
Fig. #5 (1 in ):
Here is how looks the cover page of the book by Czeslaw Pajak and
Jan Pajak: "Proverbs of the Orient and from other corners of the world".
Together with my brother we published this book in Poland in 2003.
It contains around 2700 proverbs. Each proverb is presented in
two language versions, namely Polish and English.
#6. Professorships in two disciplines:
Probably there is no many scientists, who managed
to accumulate as huge amount of professional experience
as myself. To give an example, I managed to advance
academically to the professorial level in two totally
different disciplines, namely to the level of Associate
Professor in Mechanical Engineering and to the level
of a Full Professor in Computer Sciences (specialised
in Software Engineering). Also my doctorate (I am a
doctor in technical sciences - DrTSc) was completed
simultaneously in these two disciplines. If I list all subjects
that I ever lectured, probably these would suffice for
a small polytechnic.
#7. Honours, degrees and titles:
A typical course of the university studies that
I followed, took 6 years for my specialisation.
After these studies were completed,
I received two university degrees, namely a Master of Engineering
and an Engineer (ME, Eng.).
* * *
In the final years of my studies I was granted
a "Scientific Scholarship"
which my university reserved for the most outstanding
students. This scholarship included a clause, that after finishing
my studies the university was also reserving the right to employ me
as a scientist and a lecturer. Thus immediately after finishing my
studies I started to advance my doctorate. I completed it within
4 years, and defended it on 6 June 1974. The doctorate gave me the
earned degree of a Doctor of Technical Sciences (DrTSc). For next
four months after the defence of my doctorate, I was the youngest
doctor at my university. Of course, after a doctorate I continued
my research and lecturing. At that time students union from my
university used to grant the title "the lecturer of the year"
to a best lecturer chosen by students. I received this title
in two subsequent years shortly before my emigration from Poland.
* * *
Apart from the earned doctorate (DrTSc),
I have also several other honours, titles, and degrees,
which is nice to be able to include into the resume.
One of them is the outcome of my
(compulsory in former Poland) military service. I initially
started to serve in sappers, assigned to the Polish equivalent
of a "reserve army" or a "territorial army" (i.e. this is like a
"part-time army" where soldiers work and live normally, but
from time to time they are being called to service for periods
ranging from two days up to two months). The major duty of sappers
is to build bridges, roads, and airfields, to lie minefields and
to dismantle them, to blast everything that obstructs the path,
to dispose old bombs and mines, and many more. If an army is
attacking, sappers actually go in front of it, to make a path
for the military hardware. (Thus usually they are fired at
by both fighting sides.) Sappers are these soldiers about whom
a popular saying states that they supposed
to "make only one mistake in the entire their life". (This is
because a significant part of their duties involves bomb
disposal, while almost no-one survives a mistake with a bomb.)
So various sarcastic soldiers keep adding a phrase to this
popular saying on sappers, that this only mistake in their
life depends on them becoming sappers. It was in Polish sappers
where I learned the true mining of the proverb "when a work is
worth being done, it is worth being done well". This is
because at that time Polish sappers still had a long-standing
tradition, that if a given unit of soldiers built a bridge,
then all soldiers went under this bridge when the first tank
rolled through it. (I wonder whether this tradition still
survived until the present times of democracy and freedom
of speaking out.) I believe that the unforgettable feelings
experienced when a tank rolls through the bridge which one
just finished building, which was not tested yet, and under
which one is just standing together with all other soldiers,
would turn extremely beneficial for all those young people,
who cannot induce any motivations within themselves.
At a later stage of my service in the Polish
reserve army, my high technical skills were appreciated, and
I was shifted from sappers to the "engineers of weaponry",
means to this engineering service, which acts as large-scale
gunsmiths, being busy with repairing and maintain weapon and
hardware used by other soldiers (like tanks, guns, cannons,
means of transport, etc.). During this compulsory military
service in the Polish army, I was promoted to an officer,
and at the time of emigrating from Poland I was already
* * *
Outside of Poland I have also earned various
honours through studies, research, and professional advancement.
Two most important out of these were, when in my professional
career I accomplished the level of Associate Professor in two
different disciplines. So my honours also include titles of a
former Associate Professor in Engineering and a former (full)
Professor in Computer Sciences.
These my former professorships disclose an
interesting similarity in all cultures of the world, hidden
behind the apparent differences in addressing each other.
For example, in the New Zealand culture, people emphasize
friendship and appreciation of someone by learning and
remembering the first name of this person. Therefore,
for example most of my students in New Zealand addressed
me with the Polish pronunciation "Yan" of my first name,
what actually contains an emotional message
"we would like to let you know that we appreciate you
enough to put an effort in learning and remembering the
Polish pronunciation of your name, and in calling you
correctly with your name". In turn in the Polish culture,
people manifest their appreciation of someone by finding out
what was the highest title that this person accomplished
in his/her life, and then addressing this person with this
earned title. Therefore, all my Polish acquaintances address
me "Professor" or "Sir Professor" (i.e. "Panie Profesorze"
in Polish), what emotionally reads "we appreciate you enough
to put an effort in finding out that the highest title which
you earned in your life was that of a University Professor,
and we recognize this your title by addressing you with it".
Thus, in spite that ways of addressing someone in these
two cultures are different, the emotional message which
is coded into this addressing is always the same.
And if one analyses ways of addressing
in other cultures of the world, actually all of them seem
to repeat the same emotional message.
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I wish you a fruitful reading!
My contact addresses are provided at the end of page
with the full version of this autobiography.
Date of starting this page: 25 May 2004.
My situation reflected by the content of this web page prevails almost unchanged since 2005,
although the wording of this web page was cosmetically augmented in March 2011.
(Check from addresses in menu more recent versions of this web page!)