Kobe, Japan, May, 2009
Don MacLaren’s articles, commentary, stories, poems and letters to editors have appeared in
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Don MacLaren lived in Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan until he was 19. His wanderlust and desire for a better life than the bleak future staring him in the face in the U.S. Midwest led him to quit his job as a press operator in a factory and join the US Navy. In the Navy he worked as a Radioman, holding a Top Secret security clearance. His ship, the USS Coral Sea
, made two seven-month long deployments to East Asia and the Indian Ocean/Gulf of Oman during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and Iran-Iraq War. In 1980 he and his shipmates on the Coral Sea spent 102 consecutive days at sea without visiting a port - most of it off the coast of Iran. During this time the Coral Sea and ships in company participated in Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt to rescue Americans being held hostage in Tehran.
The Navy requested MacLaren re-enlist, but he chose to leave the service when he completed his contract.
In 1988 he graduated as valedictorian at City College of San Francisco with an AS in Film Production. Two years later he received a BA in English from UC Berkeley, where he was a member of the Honor Students’ Society.
In March 1991 he moved to Japan, where he initially taught English at a school called the American Club
. In 1995 he began work in Tokyo at a trading company, USC Limited (株式会社ユーエスシー
), as a writer and translator. During his time of employment, USC Limited imported products from companies such as Unocal, Prestone and Con-Agra and marketed them to clients such as Toyota, Nissan and the Japanese government. MacLaren participated in negotiations with these suppliers and clients, working as an interpreter.
In 2001 he resigned his position at USC Limited and after an 18 day trip through Europe returned to the United States. He spent most of 2001 to 2010 in New York City, where he worked as a teacher and freelance writer and translator. His students and clients consisted of people from over 75 different countries.
In 2003-04 he spent six months in Latin America, where he worked freelance as a writer and translator (of English, Spanish and Japanese).
Between 2008 and 2014 he made numerous trips to Japan, totaling over six months. Much of this time was spent writing his observations on Japan, as well as doing freelance translating and tutoring.
In addition to the jobs mentioned above, MacLaren has worked as a cab driver in Oakland, butcher in Michigan, construction worker and bartender in Japan, janitor and hotel desk clerk in San Francisco, security guard in Dallas, counterperson at Caffe Trieste in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, wire operator/bookkeeper/trading assistant for the institutional trading desk at the stock brokerage firm Merrill Lynch in Dallas, and other jobs.
MacLaren lived in Jiangsu Province, China from 2010 to 2014, where he taught in high schools. He has divided his time between New York City, China and Japan since July 2014. He currently works as a teacher, writer and translator.
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