こんにちは！ “Stories from the Inaka” is a blog about Chicago, my hometown, and Japan, my adopted home for three fascinating years. The word inaka means countryside in Japanese. For three years, I was an English teacher in rural Japan. I lived in Namerikawa, Toyama as a teacher with the JET Program for two years and spent another year working for an English conversation school and translation company in Matsuyama, Ehime on Shikoku Island. Traveling to as many places around Japan as I could, I’ve seen the best and worst of Japanese culture. Prior to starting my position in Japan, I was a freelance journalist and local news reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago, Gapers Block, and other publications. I studied newspaper journalism with a concentration in sociology and a minor in American history at Northwestern University. Some of my favorite stories involve seeing the American Dream from both an insider and outsider’s perspective — seeing when it succeeds, and when it fails, turning into what some have called, “The American Nightmare.” Other interests of mine include running, writing about music, and attempting to learn more Japanese. Raised in Flossmoor, Ill., I am currently based in the Chicago area and work as a grant writer for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.