By the time I graduated from college in 1992 I had never been west of the Mississippi River and could count on one hand the number of times I’d been out of the state.  Until that point I had spent most of my life in a small farming town in western New York State.   Growing up our idea of international food was La Choy chicken chow-mein in a can with a side of Minute Rice.

Living in Japan

Living in Japan

But for some reason I still don’t fully understand, I was drawn to Japan.  So I applied to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) and was accepted as an Assistant English Teacher.   For the first time I flew over the Mississippi and into a life-changing adventure.  I spent the next year teaching English to high school students in Fukushima City while learning how to live in a foreign country, how to communicate across language and cultural boundaries, and what it was like to be a minority (there were very few Westerners in Japan at this time).   Living in such a different place also caused me to question how and why I did certain things.  It forced me to learn about my own culture, background and attitudes.  By the time I left a year later I was a different man.

I loved Japan but didn’t want to be an English teacher all my life.  So I joined the professional world and took on a role at Hewlett Packard that allowed me to travel.  While living in California I traveled around the world.  I conducted training in Europe, spoke a conferences in southeast Asia, met customers in Japan and Australia and worked with HP employees all over the planet.

The travel was eye opening and wonderful, but also exhausting.  The jet-lag was a killer!  So, in 2004 I was ready for a change and HP came through in flying colors.  I moved to Germany to help launch a new business in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.  Living in Germany gave me the chance to explore Europe as a local; slowly, deliberately.  Instead of a two week trip I now worked with Germans, Irish, French, Fins, English, South Africans, Israelis, Swiss and many more every single day.  We traveled from South Africa to Scandinavia and everywhere in between.   I learned the nuances of each culture and how to connect with my peers with very different backgrounds and points of views.

We seriously considered staying in Germany permanently.  But after our first daughter was born my wife and I agreed we wanted to be closer to our families and we moved back to the US.   Now we spend our time exploring the beauty and diversity of the US and all the exciting local cultures across the states.  We’ve come to appreciate how our European and Asian heritages have come to flavor different communities across the country and make for such a unique place.

  • Daniel Dorr – Professional, Author, Speaker