Welcome to Turning East

Taal Lake in Tagaytay

This website features recorded interviews which were edited to be read but also to retain the language of the individual storyteller–edited oral history. The writing/telling style of the posts varies from one to another. Sometimes with a name change to protect privacy. The interviews begin in 1985 and continue into the present. Almost all are set in  China, Korea, Japan or the Philippines and center on personal, intercultural experience of life, work and travel. Occasionally I include a story of my own. I’ve now gone to posting once a month.

Years ago I was flooded with spam comments and posts–over 800 in three days–and in a panic I turned those functions off. We now have security so the email sign-up and comment functions could be turned on again. Please sign up. (When I tried this, it took a couple of days for an email to pop into my inbox.) I thought the problems were fixed, but it looks like more work is needed. Please also comment on posts.

Searching through the over 220 posts is now easier with the Google search function, which directs you to posts inside and outside the website. There’s also a gray banner with a click-on function for countries, tags underneath post titles and suggestions at the end of posts. The index by topic page provides information about topics, countries, dates, and a brief description of the content of each post., There is also an archives column at the right. So, browse, please, browse and comment.


After over ten years of neglect–I couldn’t find the right developer and had to learn stuff as I went along–this website is being cleaned up and set right. At the moment, Junno Gonzales and I are fixing the indexes. But if you want to find something on the site, try the search function to look for, say, spirituality or Buddhism. As we do the index, I will also be proofreading and Junno will be fixing broken links and showing me how to rename photos as part of the SEO. Eventually we’ll add ads so the thing can start paying for itself. Sound good?

Please read and share:

In 2009, my housemate and I survived the Typhoon Ondoy. A few years later, my house in a different location was flooded because of a roof that didn’t meet the kitchen wall and on another occasion my a broken water pipe.
But because I live in the Philippines I was advised not to throw out electrical appliances. After the flood, clean them, unplug them, let them dry out for 3 weeks to a month and plug them in and use them. We did this with a large refrigerator, a new gas range, a microwave and a couple of television sets. The computers did not get wet because I put them on top of bookcases. Afterwards they worked fine. We still use some of them.
What we were told to throw out was anything which had gotten wet which would hold bacteria from the sewage mixed with the water: pillows, mattresses, couches, overstuffed chairs, chair cushions. We did as we were told. The two of us and the two cats got antibiotics. Nobody got sick. I don’t know what might have happened to people who might have helped themselves to the stuff we discarded. Here there are plenty of people who know enough to tell them to leave it alone. We washed and dry-cleaned all the clothes. I lost four cameras and got traumatized because of that, but later I went digital. I get upset when I see news coverage of flood victims in the US throwing out all their stuff, and I yell at them, “You don’t have to do that!”⁠

Comment, comment, comment!  And, if you’d like to be interviewed, please see the interview/contact page. (Link)

AGC Photography

Carol Dussere

After Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the bottom fell out of the job market in US higher education–although it was much better then than it is now. At that point I had a PhD in German literature and a substantial list of publications. I was teaching on one-year contracts and applying for jobs every year. It seemed to me that there were about 10-15 jobs open annually in my field of early modern German literature and 400-500 people applying for them. What to do? Eventually I did what I said I’d never do and went back to graduate school, this time in linguistics and Teaching English as a Foreign Language at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1984-86, I was professor of English at Xiamen University, Fujian, China and a member of our tiny, close-knit expat community.  China was what we lived, breathed and discussed at great length. Stories about our experience flew around from one expat community to another like frisbees. I started collecting them in hope of writing a book. I returned Pittsburgh to finish my MA and went on to Seoul in 1988. From 1989-2006, while teaching at Dongguk University in Seoul. I continued doing interviews and reshaped them into the cultural component of Bridges. In 2007, I retired from teaching and moved to the Philippines. I’m now living in the hilly town of Antipolo after having been flooded out of my home in Quezon City in 2009 and after leaving the Taal volcano ash in own of Tagaytay in 2020. Tagaytay remains close to my heart. (“Dussere” rhymes with “blue hair,” which I don’t have yet.)

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14 years ago

I love Carol’s smiling face.

~ Sil in Corea
14 years ago

Isn’t it interesting how much alike people in small, farming villages are? I really enjoyed reading about Michelle’s experiences at the Chinese wedding. Some customs may seem different on the surface, but the reasons for them are as valid in any other village on the globe.

Loretta Worters
Loretta Worters
14 years ago

This is FANTASTIC Carol! I love the picture at the top (where is it?) and your picture. Your friend did a wonderful job. Love the “feel” of the Website, the colors, everything is clean lines, etc., which is so important.

12 years ago

Carol – I love your latest about your first years in Korea and China. Very inspiring. Much love. Bethy