by Dick Jorgensen
In 1954, 29-year-old grad student Dick Jorgensen went to Japan as one of four “ambassador” teachers in a first-ever exchange program. He spent the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, founded in the wake of the atomic bombing of the city in 1945. Living with Japanese families, he was forced to find new ways to reach students ravaged by World War II.
Thus began an incredible journey for "a kid from the Midwest." Those two years in Japan were the start of a lifelong love affair with travel and with Japanese culture, architecture and history. While there, Jorgensen met luminaries in the fields of history, politics and education and visited many parts of Japan – including Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Sapporo, and Nagasaki.
As a work of history, O Tomodachi (Japanese for "friend") provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both historical and accessible. As memoir, O Tomodachi gives readers a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land, a place that had only recently been the enemy of the United States, and to open himself to new experiences and people.