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.

New video by Jireh Calo. Her arrangements of Filipino music. (Link)

Downloadable textbook–Bridges: Intercultural Conversation

Over ten of the years I was teaching at Dongguk University in Seoul, I wrote and used a two-semester textbook based on the Korea interviews in this site. (Link) Each of the full-length chapters includes a reading selection on Korean and American interaction, exact definition of key terms, reading and discussion questions, listening tasks, grammar exercises/word study based on the reading selections and crossword puzzles using the vocabulary of the reading selections. Two additional chapters contain a reading selection for discussion or a writing assignment. PDF files of all eighteen chapters and a supplement are available on the textbook page so teachers can use them. Just don’t republish, please.

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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11 years ago

I love Carol’s smiling face.

~ Sil in Corea
11 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
11 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.

10 years ago

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