I was born Paul Sminkey in Camden, New Jersey, but I grew up in Bowie, Maryland. Raised as a Catholic, I attended St. Pius X Elementary School and Archbishop Carroll High School. At Carroll, my religious education encouraged anti-establishment social activism and an awareness of the poor. I was active in collecting canned goods, volunteering at soup kitchens, and protesting against multi-national corporations.
From 1981 until 1985, I attended Villanova University, where I majored in English and minored in Philosophy and Education. After graduating, I entered the master’s program in English at Temple University, where I taught writing and literature, and also worked as a holistic scorer of placement tests. My son, Zachery, was born on July 17, 1988. From September of that year, I taught at Bridgeton High School in New Jersey for two years.
In 1990, I moved to Japan and worked as an AET (assistant English teacher) in Kagoshima for three years. My daughter, Hana, was born in Kagoshima on November 26, 1991. In 1994, after a seven-month stay in the U.S., we moved to Miyazaki, where I taught at Miyazaki University. After six years, I transfered to Kanoya University in Kagoshima, where I worked as a foreign instructor for four years.
Since 2004, I have been working at Okinawa International University (OKIU), where I teach English conversation, debate, speech, and translation. On June 16, 2010, I married Yoko Ohama. On December 14, 2010, I acquired Japanese citizenship and changed my name to Takuma Sminkey.