Born in 1971, Caroline Pover grew up mainly in Plymouth in the south-west of England, although spent a few years in Saudi Arabia as a young child. She attended Goosewell County Primary School, and Plymstock Comprehensive School, where she excelled academically, and was elected Head Girl of both. From five years old she decided to become a primary school teacher, and spent her own school years focused on working toward that goal. Even as a child she was interested in creating groups of people committed to helping others, heading up endeavours to volunteer at a local school for children with learning difficulties, and organising various inter- and intra-school fundraising sports activities.
She became particularly interested in women’s issues when later attending the University of Exeter, and frequently incorporated gender-related issues into her own studies of mathematics and education. Caroline Pover volunteered with the student university charity fundraising organisation within her first week at university, and ultimately took a year out of her course to run the organisation full-time. This role involved both direct fundraising and encouraging others to volunteer to support people with cancer, brain injuries, or HIV/AIDS, among other challenging conditions. In 1993 Caroline founded the Safe Sex Ball for the purpose of keeping a local AIDS centre from closing. The ball is now an annual event for which the University of Exeter has now become famous, and has since become the biggest British event of its kind outside London.
Coming to Japan
Caroline Pover graduated from university as a qualified primary school teacher, with a First Class Honours degree and a Dean’s Commendation in Mathematics and Education. After teaching back at Goosewell, a desire for adventure led her and a friend to Tokyo in 1996, where she arrived with a tourist visa, a backpack, and very little money, and spent her first day stranded outside a phone box in Ebisu for eight hours! Not to waste the time, she spent those hours calling language schools requesting interviews—attending five appointments one after the other, she was hired the next day by a technical college, and later by an alternative Japanese international school, where she was thrilled to be teaching predominantly teenage girls, and spent her time trying to help them navigate their way through the inevitable trials and tribulations of growing up.
Becoming a Publisher
Teaching by day, Caroline Pover launched “Being A Broad” magazine for foreign women in Japan and later the accompanying website. After 13 issues she folded the magazine and embarked upon her first book. She interviewed 200 foreign women about their experiences in Japan, and established Alexandra Press (named after her mother) under which to publish. “Being A Broad in Japan: Everything a Western woman needs to survive and thrive” was released in 2001 and quickly became a number-one bestseller. The success of her book led to further publishing projects for Tokyo English Life Line, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and Tokyo American Club Women’s Group, as well as corporations and individual authors. In 2004, she took over the first free publication in Japan—“Weekender” magazine (established in 1970), and added a women’s section which led to the relaunch of “Being A Broad” magazine in 2006. After four years of revamping the “Weekender”, she sold the business in October 2008, and focused on writing her second book, the “Guide to International Schools in Japan”, while still overseeing the Being A Broad network and magazine, and working on a series of books for Japanese women entitled “Ask Caroline.”
Caroline has used her media and network to support various charitable endeavours, and individuals in need. She raised money to buy a memorial bench for the family of Lucie Blackman to place in their hometown, and launched a t-shirt campaign to support the family of Lindsay Ann Hawker in their endeavours to capture their daughter’s killer.
Caroline was on Saipan when the March 11th earthquake struck Japan, writing a book about the love lives of Japanese men and Western women. One week later she took off for the UK and spent a month travelling around the country giving talks to schools about Japan, and collecting practical and financial donations for the people who had lost their homes in the north of Japan. Upon her return to Japan she drove to the disaster zone and delivered the almost 10,000 items she had collected. Moved by the people she met and the area she visited, she decided to take six months out of her “normal” life and travelled around the UK again, giving talks to schools and other community groups, while raising funds for a various projects in the area she visited, Oshika-hanto, Tohoku. She now shares her time between the UK and Japan, focusing on writing and activities to support Oshika-hanto.
Speeches & Awards
In 2001, Caroline was recognized at the Foreign Executive Women’s 20th anniversary celebrations for her many contributions to the foreign women’s community in Japan. In 2008, she was awarded the inaugural British Business Award for Best Entrepreneur at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s 60th anniversary celebrations. In 2011 she received an Outstanding Service Award to commemorate International Women’s Day, by the US-based Women’s Information Network for her work in the school community in Japan; and early 2012 she was nominated for the inaugural Body Confidence Awards in the UK, for her “I Love My Bum” TED Talk.
Caroline’s TED Talk was at a “Women’s Spaces and Places”-themed event. Known for being an open person where very little is taboo(!) Caroline was asked if she wouldn’t mind talking about “The Bedroom” as her space. She ended up giving a hugely successful and humorous talk on the importance of loving your body, and encouraging a positive body image in women.
She has given speeches throughout Japan and the UK, to numerous organisations including the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Daito Bunka University, the Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo, the Harvard Club of Japan, JET, Temple University, Tokyo American Club, and many women’s groups, schools, writer/publisher interest groups, and military organizations. Popular speech topics are: her adventures in Japan, the media, networking, the lives of foreign women, making the most of life in Japan, and entrepreneurship, among many others. She is currently focusing on giving speeches about Japan to British children, or about her post-earthquake activities to Japanese people.
When in the UK she lives in The Cotswolds with her husband and two dogs, along with her two stepchildren who are frequent visitors. When in Japan, she is mainly on Oshika-hanto.
Caroline Pover is a stroke survivor, having suffered multiple strokes in her thirties. She is always keen to hear from other young stroke survivors.