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 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 beautiful town of Tagaytay, where I’m still doing interviews and posts, working on the submission package of a completed novel and thinking about writing a memoir. (“Dussere” rhymes with “blue hair,” which I don’t have yet.)