Five Years in Uganda

Last month I posted an interview with an Australian named John about his teaching experience in Taiwan and Japan. This month he talks about his years in Uganda with his wife Keiko, a Japanese pediatrician. 

To provide a good sense of place, I added links to Youtube videos featuring walks in Kampala, the capital city, and the Kiwoko Hospital. John sent the pictures of his wife and himself. We spoke via Skype while he was in Japan and I was in the Philippines.

John and Keiko’s story

Shortly after we were married, my wife said that before we got too … Read More

Teaching English in Taiwan and Japan

My first experience in language teaching was in 1966, when I taught German with the Audio-lingual Method of repetition drills, substitution drills and communication exercises—a close relative of the Direct Method or Berlitz Method—all conducted in the target language and reinforced in the language laboratory. It can be extremely effective with most beginning language learners, so that students can produce a few short sentences after the first hour of instruction.

John’s experience with language teaching includes classic novice mistakes followed by proper training, success, administrative duties and finally the frustration of apathy and “chalk and talk.”

John and I spoke Read More

Finding Contentment in Japan—and Once in Korea

I first met Mark in the early 1990s at the Lotus Lantern Buddhist Center in Seoul. I was teaching English at Dongguk University, the Buddhist school, and he was studying philosophy at Seoul National University, the country’s top university.  It was a time of intense student activism which greatly affected the climate on university campuses and in the country as a whole. Mark had some decided views on the subject, as he told me in an interview, (Link) After graduating from SNU in 1992, Mark stayed in various Buddhist temples in SE Asia, then returned to Korea to Read More

“Trailblasian,” Black Women in Asia, Part 1

The title of Trailblasian is a coinage of ‘trailblazers + black + Asians. The book is an anthology of personal experience stories written by black women living and working in Asia. The editor, T.K. McLennon, Trecia, found most of the contributors online. She was inspired by the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who in a TED talk warned against “the danger of a single story.” Trecia explains, “When you only hear one story or a narrow set of stereotypical stories about a group of people, it keeps you from knowing or having a better balanced understanding of that group.” Trailblasian … Read More

Having a Baby in Japan

About five years ago I posted “Almost a Japanese Housewife,” the story of an Australian friend. (Link) We called her “Ruth” to protect her privacy. Recently she talked via Skype about the birth of her first child. Thanks to Ruth for the photos.

Ruth’s story

In Australia my friends went to any doctor for a blood test or a urine test, but in Japan you go to an obstetrician who gives you an internal examination, a vaginal ultrasound. The chair used for the examination—also for Pap smears—is like a dentist’s chair with stirrups. It lifts you up and … Read More