Archived Blog – For Starters

Christopher Wink | Aug. 28, 2006 | First JYA blog post

UPDATE Feb. 12, 2011: All my NBCU JYA writing, video and photo work has been transferred to subdomain

Everyone who is in Japan raise your hand.

Note: I am typing with one hand. Clever, I know.

I am writing to you in my small – but expensive – two hundred thirty square foot apartment which I share with another here in the quiet residential Meguro-ku ward of Tokyo (one of 23 such municipalities). It has been quite a little adventure already, but let’s get ourselves orientated, no?

In the realm of self-evaluation, I love to consider myself the elder statesman of travel – at least for an independently traveling twenty-year-old. While most of my extended absences from my northwest New Jersey home have been wanderings throughout the continental United States, I spent the summer of 2005 in Ghana, West Africa. That was my first attempt at using education as a façade for international travel. Here in Tokyo I am keeping up that very pretext, though the time before I fall asleep is spent dreaming of travel and language, not books and tests.

Continue reading Archived Blog – For Starters

TUJ dean retires for the sea (The Temple News: 12/4/08)

By Christopher Wink | Dec. 4, 2007 | The Temple News

Kirk Patterson wants to sail the world.

The current dean of Temple University Japan, who announced his retirement at a campus-wide meeting on Aug. 27, is looking beyond his departure at the end of this month.

It was a dream of his from a very early age, but it wasn’t until 15 years ago that he realized he might be blessed with the opportunity to make it a reality.

“I’ll spend two years in Victoria preparing,” said the native Canadian over the telephone from Tokyo. “Getting the boat ready, getting my body ready.”

Perhaps, it won’t be unlike his five-year career as the top man for Temple in Japan

TUJ was in fiscal ruin 2001, prior to Patterson’s appointment as dean in January 2002. The branch campus had lost money for 10 consecutive years.

“TUJ’s reputation was very bad when I came,” Patterson, 54, said. “A lot of foreign universities were closing, so no one would trust them.”

So Patterson was brought from the corporate world, having held leadership positions in large communications and public relations firms before being chosen to fill the campus’s top position. After reorganizing the school’s mission and welcoming encouraged commitment from Main Campus, Patterson has overseen TUJ’s transition to a successful, profitable part of a growing Temple community.

After years of swirling rumors about the impending closure of TUJ, attitudes have largely changed.

Temple President Ann Weaver Hart’s trip to East Asia last month, which prominently featured TUJ’s 25th anniversary celebration, was an important reminder of that.

“When you’ve been in office for a long, long time and – I would hope – are happy with what you see as the future of the institution you’ve devoted so much of your life to,” Hart said, “you can feel comfortable stepping down knowing that you feel like the institution is in good hands.”

“President Hart is wonderful in her commitment to global education,” said Patterson, who speaks and reads Japanese.

The field of candidates to replace him as head of a growing campus has been narrowed to two.

Bruce Stronach, 57, is a career academic from Massachusetts and current president of Yokohama City University. Matthew J. Wilson, 37, originally from Utah, is chief legal counsel and current Associate Dean at TUJ. The final decision is expected to be announced before the end of January.

Despite an impressive turnaround, Patterson has not been without criticism. Some TUJ administrators and academic personnel have suggested that he has remained too closely involved in the daily decisions of what is still a small, albeit flourishing, university setting.

During a public presentation on Main Campus, Wilson, who would be the youngest dean in TUJ history if chosen, promised to improve something Patterson has cited as one of his earliest successes: campus unity.

“TUJ is a growing institution,” said Wilson while in Philadelphia Nov. 20. “But an important first stand is to reconnect with staff, to improve faculty morale.”

While Temple is not required to release by-campus fiscal results, after a decade of budget shortfalls, the past four years have been profitable, according to Patterson. Enrollment at TUJ has doubled to nearly 3,000 students since Patterson came, including 20 percent increases in each of the past two academic years.

“My successor will inherit an institution that is very optimistic,” said Patterson, who is not involved in the process to select his replacement. “TUJ is becoming a first in the world model for international education.”

Patterson is not shy about what the position has meant to him.

“If I hadn’t taken the Temple job, my life wouldn’t have been complete,” he said. “My decision was to leave Japan, not TUJ.”

After the announcement of his retirement, Hart said she would recommend to the Board of Trustees that Patterson become a Dean Emeritus after his departure, so he would be available to help with any transition period, if necessary.

But Patterson is certainly moving on. He has an ailing father in Spain and a dream of his own calling from the horizon, seeing the world by sea all alone.

Still, he not is without plans to return to what has been his home for 25 years.

“The first leg of my trip will be to sail back here,” he said with confidence in his voice. “No foreigner has ever completed a solo circumnavigation of Japan.”

“I just don’t have a boat, yet,” he said.

Christopher Wink can be reached at

Text as it appeared for the 12/4/08 edition of The Temple News. See it here. This is one part of an ongoing series about Patterson’s replacement. See the original here.

Junior Year Abroad: an online-only NBC pilot travel podcast

UPDATE Feb. 12, 2011: All my NBCU JYA writing, video and photo work has been transferred to subdomain

I sent in a two minute video to NBC’s Manhattan headquarters in June 2006. It was an altogether last minute decision. I saw the promotion of the pilot season of an NBC show called ‘Junior Year Abroad’ in an email that came from the communications department of Temple University. I decided there wasn’t anything to be lost.

Not a month later I heard back. After a brief interview and legal semantics, I was offered a spot on the show. I was driven to New York City for an introduction and training, given several hundred dollars worth of equipment and had my semester studying in Japan essentially paid for by a corporation. During my five month stay, I filmed 10 hours video, took more than 1,300 photographs and wrote nearly 60,000 words on my experience in Asia. It offered me a world of knowledge, the only cost being a more passionate desire to see and explore more while I was abroad.

Ten, in all, young college students from across the country, traveling to different parts of the world were selected, as seen above, the only time we met.

The NBC crew used my footage to produce five show-specific pieces, which you can see below, in addition to another seven podcasted videos while I was living in Tokyo, which you can see here.

Continue reading Junior Year Abroad: an online-only NBC pilot travel podcast

Tokyo, Japan Study Abroad Reflection

By Christopher Wink | Nov. 29, 2006 | Tokyo, Japan

UPDATE Feb. 12, 2011: All my NBCU JYA writing, video and photo work has been transferred to subdomain

I will go home on December 8, 2006. There is a ticket that asserts I will be traveling to a place unknown to the part of me who has lived in Tokyo for the last half year. As thin as paper is, some of it carries a great deal of weight. Some of the most important and powerful things of this world are just paper. My ticket will not change much, nor will it be remembered by anyone in just a few short months. Importance is relative.

I will be happy to find my native America again, but how remarkable my time here in Japan has been. I have seen a 50-foot Buddha and 500 miles on an $85 bicycle. I saw a sunrise from the head of a dormant volcano. I watched an auction of bids for 500 pound tuna. I ate octopus and herring eggs and river shrimp and pickled beets and nearly 60 pounds of rice. I will remember it all.

Continue reading Tokyo, Japan Study Abroad Reflection

Greetings from Abroad: a first e-mail from study abroad

By Christopher Wink | Jul 12, 2005 | First email from Ghana

Date: Tue 12 Jul 12:27:32 EDT 2005
From: Christopher Wink | Add To Address Book | This is Spam
Subject: Greetings from Abroad
To: Family


Sound the trumpeters for I have come to announce my arrival. I am here at the University of Ghana in Legon outside of Accra, and all is well.  I am sorry for not writing earlier, however international calling is somewhat sketchy and internet access is inconvenient, time consuming, and altogether nauseating.

That being said, I don’t know how often I will write, so I better do things real swell now.

The airplane ride was … long.  But it did get me a stamp from Germany and a visa and stamp from Ghana in my passport, the first such signs of an experienced travel I have encountered.

Continue reading Greetings from Abroad: a first e-mail from study abroad

Backpacking in Eastern China December 2006

Monday, November 27 to December 7, 2006

Before returning back to the United States after living and studying in Tokyo, Japan, I took a couple weeks to visit the two largest and best known metropolises of eastern China: capital city Beijing and cultural hub Shanghai.

I hope to include more details of my experiences in the future, but for now, please enjoy some photos.

Continue reading Backpacking in Eastern China December 2006

Dispute ends with one dead, one hurt (Philadelphia Inquirer: 4/26/06)

By Barbara Boyer and Christopher Wink | Apr 26, 2006 | Philadelphia Inquirer

One teen is dead, another is charged with murder, and police are looking for a third after an Olney playground turned into a bloody crime scene.

Yagouba Bah, 17, of the 100 block of West Champlost Street, was shot twice and stabbed so brutally Thursday night that one police official said the wound looked as though the victim had been eviscerated on the playground.
And, police said, it all happened in front of the teen’s brother.

Maurice Harmon, 17, of the 5800 block of Howard Street, was shot in the thigh accidentally by a friend during the slaying of Bah, police said. Harmon was treated for injuries – and charged yesterday with murder. He is a junior at a school run by Community Education Partners at 12th Street and Allegheny Avenue.

At a vigil and antiviolence rally last night in the playground where the teenager was attacked, more than 50 people, many of them children, gathered around a tree decorated with teddy bears, cards and a poster board that read: “We love you, Gouba.”

Many were in tears. Some stared with blank expressions at candles placed at the base of the tree. Others cried out: “You didn’t have to kill him!”

Tondalea Wiggins, the boy’s stepmother, was the only member of the teen’s family who was able to speak to the crowd about the tragedy that had visited them.

“Let Gouba rest,” she said. “God has a plan for everybody. He don’t have to suffer no more.”

She also pleaded with the young people in attendance to stop the violence and to resolve conflicts amicably.

“You don’t fight somebody just because they came from another country,” Wiggins said. The family emigrated from the African nation of Guinea, she said later.

Then she had words for her stepson’s attackers:

“Whoever did this is going to pay. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but you’re going to pay for what you did,” Wiggins said.

This year, there have been 115 homicides, the same as for the comparable period last year, when the total for the year was 380. That was the highest since 1997, when more than 400 homicides were recorded.

Police said they responded to the Olney Recreation Center in the 6000 block of North A Street at 8:22 p.m. Thursday. There they found Bah, who had gunshot wounds to the back and side and a deep stab wound to the abdomen.

Bah, a ninth grader at Excel Academy at 6600 Bustleton Ave., one of four district schools for over-age students, was rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 9 p.m.

Harmon was shot in the left thigh and taken to Einstein by a private vehicle, police said. Police yesterday were still looking for the friend who accidentally shot him.

As police surveyed the playground, they said, they discovered casings from a .45-caliber gun as well as a 9mm gun, a white metal rod, and a bloodied knife.

Police said the teens had a running argument earlier in the evening. Witnesses told police the fights flared and calmed, and then, before one teen starting swinging a stick, another pulled a knife and two pulled guns.

Capt. Benjamin Naish, a police spokesman, said Bah had been getting the better of the other teens before it escalated with weapons. Police said Bah had not been armed.

Police said the nature of the argument was unclear. They also had not determined who took Harmon to the hospital for his leg injury.

Yesterday afternoon, teens returned to the playground, where chalk marks and crime-scene tape remained.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call homicide detectives at 215-686-3334.

Contact staff writer Barbara Boyer at 215-854-2641 or

Inquirer staff writer Stephanie L. Arnold contributed to this article.

Text as it appeared in the April 26, 2006 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer on B01.

Road-rage case ends in a guilty verdict (Philadelphia Inquirer: 4/1/06)

By Christopher Wink | Apr 1, 2006 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Friends of a newlywed father who was shot to death last May during a traffic flare-up with another motorist pumped their fists as his alleged killer was found guilty yesterday of first-degree murder.

Frank Jeffs, 52, of Southwest Philadelphia, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison in the death of Robert Kerwood, 28, a South Philadelphia construction worker. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina scheduled sentencing for May 15.

“I’m absolutely very happy with the verdict,” said Kerwood’s widow, Julie, whom he married 11 days before he died. “It’s comforting to know he will never be able to do something like this again.”

In closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Carmen Lineberger called Jeffs a “wannabe military” type who “wanted to kill something that day.”

The trouble started on the Schuylkill Expressway and escalated when the men exited, honking and cutting each other off on 61st Street near Eastwick Avenue.

Jeffs, who worked in heating and air-conditioning at the University of Pennsylvania, fired three shots from a licensed .22-caliber revolver. Kerwood died the next day, May 6.

Jeffs’ godfather and uncle, Al Pellecchia, called his nephew “the kind of guy who wouldn’t step on an ant walking by.”

“It’s obvious that somewhere along the line, [the jurors] weren’t paying attention,” Pellecchia said.

Defense lawyer C. Scott Shields said Jeffs was acting in self-defense.

“This a scary, terrifying guy screaming out of his big SUV,” Shields said in his closing remarks. “What was Frank Jeffs supposed to do?”

Kerwood had waved “a black, shiny object” at Jeffs – investigators believe it was a cell phone – and yelled for him to pull over.

“He thought it was a gun, and acted to defend his life,” Shields said.

Kerwood’s family yesterday remembered him as a thoughtful and loving father of three.

“I don’t think a day would go by that he wouldn’t call and say, ‘I love you, Ma,’ ” said Kerwood’s mother, Julia. She said that after her son died, “I wanted to give up, but now I think I’m going to get my life together.”

Contact Christopher Wink at

Text as it appeared in the April 1, 2006 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer on B04.

Study Abroad in Tokyo, Japan Fall 2006

Wednesday, Aug. 23 to Dec. 13, 2006

UPDATE Feb. 12, 2011: All my NBCU JYA writing, video and photo work has been transferred to subdomain

During the fall semester of my junior year in 2006, I studied in Tokyo, Japan, using photographs, video and a blog to chronicle my nearly six months there. I was prompted to take 1,300 photos, capture almost 10 hours of video and write nearly 60,000 words because I was a cast member on the pilot season of an online-only show produced by NBC. Since the show was never picked up or continued and its Web site has since been taken offline, follow my exploits here, below.

Read the first post I wrote for NBC after arriving in Tokyo here, and my final reflections I wrote while in Tokyo, days before I returned to the United States, here. I also wrote a reflection about study abroad experience in Japan.

Watch the strictly NBC episode specific videos here, or watch the ones produced while I was traveling below.

Continue reading Study Abroad in Tokyo, Japan Fall 2006

Airline-flight harassment case is heard (Philadelphia Inquirer: 3/18/06)

By Christopher Wink | Mar 18, 2006 | Philadelphia Inquirer

Local radio personality E. Steven Collins was settling into his first-class seat next to his wife on a flight to Philadelphia from Los Angeles when he noticed Robert Baldwin.

“He was muttering something,” Collins said.

From there, his July 31 flight got worse – a whole lot worse, he told a Philadelphia judge yesterday as he pressed charges of harassment and ethnic intimidation against Baldwin.

Collins contends that Baldwin, who sat behind him and his wife, used racial epithets, kicked his wife’s seat, and put his bare feet on her headrest throughout the five-hour ride.

Collins is large – more than 6 feet tall and more than 200 pounds – and has a booming voice. He could have responded to Baldwin’s affronts in many ways, he said.

He chose to notify the flight staff and ultimately the police, including a personal call to Commissioner Sylvester Johnson.

“African American men need to know that they don’t need to be violent to get justice in this system,” said Collins, host of E. Steven Live on WPHI-FM (100.3) and national sales director for Radio One Philadelphia.

He said justice began yesterday with the first day of Baldwin’s criminal trial.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Khan frequently pointed to the role of alcohol. One flight attendant testified that she had served Baldwin, of Blue Bell, two double vodka tonics. Another said she had thought Baldwin, who was accompanied by his son and wife, was intoxicated before he got on the plane.

In response, Baldwin’s attorney, Mark Cedrone, called several of Baldwin’s former coworkers from Rohm & Haas as character witnesses. Baldwin left the Philadelphia chemical company after the harassment charges were filed.

Colleagues labeled his reputation “excellent” and his history of racial tolerance “sterling.”

Cedrone also questioned whether Municipal Court had jurisdiction, because the dispute started in the air and ended at Philadelphia International Airport, part of which is in Delaware County.

Judge Marsha Neifield directed both sides to file briefs on the jurisdiction question by May 15 and said she would resume the trial May 23.

“Baldwin has to know that you can’t say things and do things without consequences,” Collins said. “We’ll pursue this every which way and in every direction possible.”

Contact Christopher Wink at

Text as it appeared in the March 18, 2006 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer on B01.