… Taking photos is an expression of my “Art” and though it isn’t always art to some people, I get "good feelings" from learning how to see the world differently ... moments of my life's experiences.
I have been taking photos since 1944. I was two years old when I took my first photo of my Great Grandmother getting out of her car (Kodak Brownie Automatic). That is my first recorded photo. Not much is remembering from those years, but as I grew to be 11 years old I was moved by my mother and father to Formosa (Taiwan is the current name). While there, I began to experience Life as a very strange looking young boy. I was the only "foreign kid" in southern Taiwan for about three years. Every Chinese person found me to be very unusual to observe, my hair wasn’t black like theirs, my eyes were green/brown, and my arms grew small white hair which they often plucked at in curiosity. I was available for their observations for their very first time to see a western teenager. They were curious about everything, clothes, shoes, eye color, hair texture/color, facial hair, speaking, eating, sneezing, coughing, and most importantly smiling. Not all together different than the Aztecs meeting the Conquistadors on the beach for their first contact with the new world.
Now, my hair is still white, and I still find children pulling on my arm hair, people stopping on the streets to observe me going about a normal daily life. I encourage exceptionally gifted Chinese students how to prepare themselves for life in a western classroom. The fashion now is for Chinese kids, who are High School age, to be sent abroad to complete their education. They are shocked out of their “perfect one child world”. Suddenly they are in an all English classroom somewhere in a western society, no longer the center of everyone's attentions. This is similar to the shock I experienced when I was a boy trying to adjust to life in Taiwan.
I attended college for two years in America, after graduating from High School in Taiwan. Very quickly I was drafted for Vietnam. Rather than trying to find a hole large enough in which to hide, I enlisted into the Air Force and went right back to Asia. My entire military career was served in Korea, Okinawa, and a short spell in Thailand. After discharged, the Air Force Reserves kept my time in the military (for pay purposes) continuing to build time and experiences. Again tried to obtain a college degree, where upon my first degree became a reality in 1972. Then, it was time to get a job!
Davis& Geck sold the world's first synthetic absorbable suture and began an intensive study program teaching surgery technique and all the tissues where needles and threads might be used. They hired me for Jacksonville, Florida. Four years later, Pilling took me under their wings to learn all the tools and procedures of surgery to support my career in marketing medical devices in New Orleans, La. Later, I managed my MBA in marketing & Sales and then 10 years later I earned a BA in English as a second language with a minor in Graphic Design. Moved to San Francisco in 1976, and over a 15 year period, a prolific flurry of medical technology evolved the most advanced tools which would increase a surgeon's abilities to help and heal the human body. I was very fortunate to be in the right fields to ride this technological wave and privileged to personally observe nearly 90% of the surgical procedures performed in Medical Centers across the western states of America.
The photos I have taken over the years are slowly being scanned into digital format and will appear here as they are completed. I hope you find them interesting and return often to see the new updates.
I live in Chengdu, China. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province - northwestern China. I live very near to the boarders between Sichuan and Tibet. On any given day, I can step out my front door and adventure into a photo opportunity.
Upon returning for the first time to Asia in 2003 for the purpose of assisting a yacht builder in finding a new shipyard, I realized that not much was waiting for me back in America. When I returned, I tried to set about becoming a certified yacht broker in northern California, I succeeded in passing all the tests and obtained my license to be a broker but times were too difficult. I had run out of money and support for such a diverse career change. I felt abandoned by my friends and family and cut-off from a chance to change my future. Not having a fulfilling life in California, I began to look around for something creative to do with the autumn years of my life. Realizing that living as an expat was in my blood since high school, and that most probably this would be a driving force for the remainder of my life, I decided to return to China and teach Business English in a large university in Sichuan China. Quickly I learned that the majority of my Chinese university students were unable to actually speak English, this was true even after 3 and 4 years of university studies majoring in English. They were able to read and write. I viewed this as a terrible tragedy and decided to do something about it.
In 2006 I began developing a solution to the speaking English problems with Chinese University, High Schools and Junior High School students. I established a company (Burkett's Chengdu Consulting Company) and began purchasing computers to address the lack of students actually speaking English. With voice recognition software, I forced the students to speak the English that was already in their heads. Today, over 5,000 students have experienced this approach to speaking English, 30 are in foreign High Schools, or Universities, and sometimes I welcome 30 day immersion students into my home to prepare them for western living and all English classrooms.
Of late, I have been dabbling into the sport of paragliding the mountains near Tibet, eating exotic foods, playing with photography, and gardening on the roof of my apartment 17 stories over the streets of Chengdu. About twice a year, I venture on SCUBA diving trips to some of Malaysia and Indonesia's most pristine dive locations.
Here at home in a large condominium complex, I am the local resident foreign grandfather to all the children of some 3,000 families. Often I am invited to former student's homes when they return to China after completing their education in western countries. There rarely, if ever, is a dull moment with two cats and a dog; it is very much like the 60's.
I have constructed a raised garden on my roof which I have covered with fresh grass, built a fire pit, and one night each month, I throw up my VE24 North Face mountaineering tent for two young students to camp-out under the stars. Unfortunately, there aren't many stars in Chengdu. There is little doubt how long these memories will last, however.
Thank you for stopping by and when you have time make a comment as you are touched by the photos. You can reach me via my email Jim@V2rs.com or leave me a message at 916-913-9598.