Alumni Interview: Darryl Gibson

Alumni Interview

Darryl Gibson, BA '73
Interviewed by Madison Clarke

Area of Study: English

There is a common misconception that upon graduation an English major has few options for a successful career, but the skills acquired during the course to an English degree at the University of Western Ontario can, however, be applied to a multitude of inspiring jobs.

“The curiosity and research skills engendered by literature are absolutely needed to be a successful journalist and the degree from UWO meant that when I applied to work overseas, I had that piece of paper to meet the visa rules,” explained Darryl Gibson, a graduate of the English Literature program at The University of Western Ontario in 1973.

"The variety of things you learn pursuing English came into play almost every day after I graduated. It meant that whether I was interviewing a prime minister, a construction worker or a prima ballerina, I had, at the very least, read something, learned something, during my studies that made it easier to think of questions and gave me some, however incomplete, understanding of what the people I was interviewing were about. Without that background, the inevitable floundering of being dropped into other people's lives would have been much more daunting."

Background & Education

Darryl, born in London, Ontario, grew up in Wingham. Darryl received a Diploma in Creative Writing from York University in 1969 during a hiatus before completing his undergraduate degree at Western where he initially studied in the Faculty of Sciences.

“I was graduated in English Lit, after a rather checkered academic career that include two years of pre med before switching into English, which I had always taken even while immersed in sciences because that turned out to be where my interests actually lay. I was lucky enough to do contemporary lit with Mike Ondaatje, and novels, film and Shakespeare with equally interesting profs.”

In October of his second year of at Western Darryl was recruited by The Gazette as a re-porter and editor. The experience Darryl gained during his time working for The Gazette was the first stepping stone towards his career in journalism. “The Gazette grabbed me in October of my second year and ended up making me a re-porter, foreign correspondent and foreign editor in real life.”

Post-Graduate Life

After graduating from Western in 1973, Darryl began working for The Spectator in Hamilton, Ontario as a reporter and Bureau Chief until 1979. During this time, in 1976 to 1977, Darryl spent a year abroad in Europe working as a freelance correspondent for The Spectator and other newspapers and magazines. Once returned from the time abroad Darryl married his European travel partner Brenda Bushell, now a professor at the Uni-versity of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo. Together, they wanted to see Asia, which they had not done during the year living in a VW van in Europe.

"A tiny ad in The Globe and Mail on a dreary February day in 1979 offered a chance to work in Japan, and on the other end of the ad was an old friend of mine from The Ga-zette.[...]Six weeks later, we landed in Tokyo, planning to stay for enough time to see the coun-try and then move on with our trip and end up back in Canada. Fate intervened, new jobs were offered, new horizons and we're still here."

From 1981 to 2004, Darryl worked as a foreign correspondent in Japan for The Cana-dian Press, Toronto, for National Public Radio in Washington, and, many other interna-tional news organizations. He was also an editor at Kyodo News in Tokyo, Japan until 2015. In addition to extensive travel for reporting across Asia and in Europe and Australia, he also worked as an editor with the Olympic News Service at seven Olympic Games, at the football World Cup in Japan and Korea, and at more than a dozen international sporting events in Japan, Qatar, China, Azerbaijan and Myanmar.

Darryl is currently a freelance writer and editor, still based in Japan. In 2015, Darryl and Brenda went back to school in Italy for 7 months where they both studied Italian Food History and Culture, Darryl took the Business of Wine and Brenda, on sabbatical from Sacred Heart, specialized in Sustainable Development at Umbra Institute in Perugia. "They have lots of other courses and if you ever consider a semester abroad, or post-grad, this a a great place to go. Very interesting courses, great professors and lots of very interesting classmates."

Darryl and Brenda, also a Western graduate, have a house in the Japanese countryside, an apartment in the city and a dog, Shoga, who joined them in Perugia and Europe in 2014-15.
“She, like her humans, is a great traveller!”

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