I Was Always Different.
It was quite a challenge to adapt to two vastly diverse cultures. Struggling to balance both inherited traditions—American and Japanese—was like trying to inhale air while submerged in water. Neither culture would accept me as their own. I looked, thought, and acted differently than most kids.
My life started with a Japanese name, but it was changed to an American one by the time I turned six. My mother was a 21-year-old Japanese woman when she gave birth to me in Kamakura, Japan in 1955.
My dad was an American soldier stationed in Japan after World War II. My Koseki (Japanese family registry) identified me as Yoshikawa Kumeo, first born son of Yoshikawa Hisako. There is no mention of my father in this document because they were not married—quite a taboo in post-world war Japan.
Much of my childhood was spent living amongst people who I did not resemble. Although I had a Japanese name, a Japanese mother, and a Japanese citizenry, I was not accepted in their society because I was known as a hafu (derogatory word for half-breed). Mom’s family wanted nothing to do with her or me because I
brought shame to them. I was and still am an outcast of both parents’ families.
Growing up, I was always fighting with Japanese kids while adults looked at me with askance, cursing and wagging threatening fingers at me. The homogenous Japanese society never quite accepted a gaijin (foreigners) and worse.
My dad, tending to military obligations, left us after my birth but re-entered our lives when I was around five years. They planned to marry before he reported to his new assignment in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Mom was concerned that I did not speak English, so she immediately enrolled me in a nearby Catholic Missionary Kindergarten. She was unaware that it was Italian in origin! It didn't matter to me.
One day, while Dad visited us on leave, mom, beaming with pride told me to say “hi” in English.
Proudly, I smiled and blurted out, "Ciao Padre!"
He frowned and said something in an unfamiliar language (English), then roared with laughter! I turned red with embarrassment—thinking I said something wrong!
Everything happened quickly after that. My parents married and I got a new name, Ronald Dwinnells, and soon became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. I even got an American passport to travel to the States. When we
arrived in Kentucky, I suddenly faced an entirely new set of adversities. I was no longer referred to as a gaijin but was now being demonized as a “lousy dirty Jap”! It didn’t help that I couldn’t speak English or that I looked different. I even had a hard-to-pronounce last name unlike the typical Smith, Thomas, and Jones family names that predominated rural Kentucky at the time.
I had no choice but to deal with these new difficulties caused by my being different and unusual. Through resilience and resolve, I learned to embrace failures, adversities, mistakes and even enemies. Ironically, I don’t think I would have had the successes nor the happiness, peace, and contentment of life if I had not experienced difficulties as a child and young man. I am truly grateful.
My first published book, Don’t Pick Up All the Dog Hairs, is about what not to do in leadership and life based upon difficult experiences. Many leaders experience difficulties, almost daily. My message to readers is to embrace these adversities and turn them into good. Learn to always embrace, accept, learn, teach, and move on after difficulties! It will result in a good life!
Please enjoy the "Dog Hair" book! It's a fun read!
"Learn as much as you can," dad always said. "You can't get too far without education, and I want you to have a good life. Stay in school!"
My educational background allowed me to pursue many different interests and courses in my life, everything from being a medical doctor to a health care executive, an educator and even a medical researcher and now an author.
Together, my daughter Abbey, my son Buddy, and I have traveled all over the globe to climb and challenge numerous mountains.
Please check out the gallery to see some
Road Race Competition
Running helps keep me in shape for my mountain climbing activities. To incentivize me, I run in road races so I can get those really cool medals. Pictures of the races are included in the gallery section!
I love to putter around the garden. Japanese lanterns, a funky shaped juniper and a Japanese maple, all make me happy. It's very relaxing and contributes to my overall well-being.
Over the years, I kept up with a variety of physical fitness activities including weightlifting, yoga, bojutsu, tai chi and a variety of core strength exercises!
I have always loved to read. My goal is to read at least one new fiction or non-fiction book per month.