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

A World-Class Filipino Musician

I first met Noli Aurillo and his partner, Bessy, at Tago Jazz Café, where he performed frequently. I became an instant fan of his quieter solo guitar music. Sometimes Bessy and I would watch together. On March 25, 2022, I made my first venture out into night life since the beginning of the pandemic and discovered Tago was doing an evening tribute to him. I hadn’t

known that he’d died. I sat with Bessy, who was upset about an article that had appeared in a local paper, and told her she could tell her story here however she wanted to. … Read More

An Unintended Adventure, Part 3

 

Part 1 of “An Unintended Adventure,” is told by Chris’s wife, Geri. (Link) Part 2 gets the story of his accident and physical rehabilitation from his perspective. It ends with the importance of remaining physically active when fighting back from the loss of limbs or an injury or just in living. (Link) Part 3 takes that message up again and also delves into the mental/spiritual state that makes conscientious rehabilitation possible. Another interview with Chris is about his adventures among a mountain tribe in Indonesia. (Link)

We spoke when Chris was at home in Florida and Read More

An Unintended Adventure, Part 2

On December 10, 2016, I posted an interview with Geri Dickinson about the accident, the rehabilitation, their wedding and life together.[ Link] Geri and I have always been pretty open with each other, so it struck me during and after this interview was that not once did I hear a tone of voice or a hesitation suggesting marrying a guy who’d lost both legs might not be such a good idea. That speaks to their love for each other. Not many people are so fortunate.

My first interview with Chris was about his adventure with a mountain tribe in Read More

Being an Expat

 

Recently, I heard an American resident of Ukraine talk about the sympathy expressed by Ukrainians after 9/11. I’d also felt a lot of sympathy even from left-wing university students in South Korea, usually indifferent or hostile to the US. I used it as an opportunity to insert some National Public Radio coverage as listening materials. In Korea, the sympathy ended when the first US bomb hit Afghanistan. On the 9/11 anniversary, I posted on Facebook, and Michele responded that she’d been concerned about what effect the news would have on foreigners in the Middle East, where she was at the Read More

Encore Post: How to Succeed at Languages without Really Trying

I’m reposting this interview with one of my best students, if not the best,  because it offers good advice. It shows how natural learning becomes if you are truly immersed into something, maybe obsessed with it.

From 1966 to 2006, except for the three years I tried to be a studio potter, I taught foreign languages—either German to Americans or English to Chinese and Koreans. During that time there was one student whose language proficiency was a really remarkable achievement. By the time I met Byoung-ok, he’d made himself bilingual and bicultural. I thought at first that he’d gone to Read More