Blog

Welcome to Turning East

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 … Read More

Memorial Post: Susan Quimpo and “Subversive Lives,” Part 1

At the end of August of 2021, I was very saddened to hear from   Sarita Chiu, daughter of Susan Quimpo (pronounced Kimpo), that Susan had died last summer of systemic scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease that affected her heart and lung. The Cultural Center of the Philippines is now preparing to honor her as one of the departed individuals who were part of their community. Susan is an author of Subversive Lives: a Family Memoir of the Marcos Year and a popular speaker on that topic, bringing history to people who are too young to

I’ve been very isolated since Read More

A Fun, Author-Friendly Project

I first met Christina Lay before the 2008 Abroad Writers workshops, when the two of us and our friend Marita rented a car to take us from the airport to a small town in the South of France. Christina had submitted some captivating, well-crafted stories. I was impressed. The instructor referred to them dismissively as what you find in The New Yorker or an MFA thesis. Marita and I were incredulous. Wasn’t that the quality of writing we were supposed to be aiming for?

Christina is now the author of five fantasy novels, two currently available on Amazon and a Read More

Encore post: Last Days in China, Part 2

In Part 1, Harriet described the xenophobic mood and the widespread discontent preceding the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, then the glorious day of April 27, when she followed the demonstrators from Beijing Normal University from the school through the square and beyond.

Harriet’s Story

Sometime in the next few days, the officials had a dialogue on TV with the previously recognized student organizations [set up by university officials]. Some of the questions put by these student leaders were pretty lame, but some were to the point. The answers were rather patronizing, but they were at least talking. The activists … Read More

Encore post: Last Days in China, Part 1

On May 15, I attended a virtual reading offered by the Autumn House Press in Pittsburgh. One of the readers was Michael Wang, who read a piece about the Tiananmen Square massacre. Since this is now June, the 32nd anniversary, I thought of reposting this piece from 2011. At the time of the bloody crackdown, I was teaching in Seoul and would come home from my night class to watch events unfold on CNN. Later that summer, I was at the photocopy machine in the linguistics department of the University of Pittsburgh, my alma mater, and a Chinese graduate … Read More