“Just finished your book and I enjoyed reading it. I found it easy to read and it interested me as an old Englishman. To insinuate my sensibilities into how you and the Japanese related to each other. It was not until the 1960s when we made friends with some Japanese and we came to count the Japanese as humans, so it was nice to find another reality…
So, I found it interesting and involving. Obviously, it was an exhilarating time for you and you passed this on very successfully, which shares the joy. Excellently written in a clear engaging narrative. I am ready for the next volume.”
- Bernard C. (author and bookstore owner with a personal library of 25,000 volumes!)
“You are amazing – proud of you!”
- Hans and Carolyn K.
“Thank you so very much for your beautiful book. What a treasure! We are so very proud of you for this tremendous accomplishment.”
- Dave and Gina C.
“How remarkable, Dick, that you have had such an impressive birthday AND that you have written such a lively account of your experience in Japan. I am delighted to have the book.”
- Elizabeth B.
“In this debut memoir, a Midwesterner recalls teaching Eglish 60 years ago in Japan as part of a pioneering exchange program.
“Talk about the unexpected! It was so great to receive a copy of your book about the shared experience of teaching in Japan sixty years ago (or so). Much of it for me had passed into a hazy forgetfulness. Your power of recall is nothing short of miraculous, even allowing for what nust have been the regularity with which you recorded happenings, whether in notebooks or in letters home. Your litany of acquaintances from that time often provoked in me memories that had I had great pleasure of revisitng. Altogether, thanks for a truly revitalizing experience.”
Jorgensen has had a distinguishing career, including serving as a national director of the United States Department of Education’s Teacher Corps/Peace Corps program. Born in 1925, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, he was a typical Midwestern boy who never dreamed of becoming a world traveler until 1954, when he learned of a program aimed at sending “young represenative Americans” (all four were white and male, as Jorgensen notes) to teach English and promote democracy in Japan. Jorgensen jumped at the chance. He was at first dismayed that his teaching assignment would be in Hiroshima, only nine years after the atomic bomb; Jorgensen was welcomed with hospitality, but “it was simply impossible to go anywhere in Hiroshima, or meet anyone, without being reminded of the A-bomb,” he writes. His students were focused on the future and eager to learn, and he connected with them through informal socializing as well as classoom lessons, discussions of American and Japanese literature and popular music, and other techniques, which proved effective. “I might even have come in to my own as teach of English,” he wrote to his family near the end of his stay. The memoir offers interest as a piece of historical travel writing, though it can get bogged down in guidebook details. It’s also valuable as an account of pre-Peace Corps intercultural education efforts. Teaching in mid-’50s Hiroshima is the memoir’s strongest theme, and these sections are intriguing indeed –but getting there nearly takes half the book. Much space is devoted to Jorgensen’s friends and mentors, whom few readers except those with a personal connection to them, or scholarly interest in the time or place, will likely take much interest in (although Jorgensen did meet some luminaries, such as Nobel Prize-winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata).
A warm, appealing eyewitness account that displays the author’s appreciaiton for Japan’s art and architecture and its postwar challenges.