JET Teachers Reunite at 2016 Shinnenkai
• JET is the acronym of the program called
“the Japan Exchange and Teaching”, where native English speakers teach
English to Japanese students or work with local institutions. It provides
Japanese students opportunities to communicate with native speakers while
JET participants have opportunities to experience life in Japan.
• After a welcoming address by Wesley Julian, President of JETAA Chicago, the attendees were thrilled to watch martial arts demonstrations. They were iaido by Mugai Ryu Iai Hyodo, karate by Shuri Ryu Karate, and Aikido by Aikido Association of America.
• The participants also enjoyed having food and drinks, and playing games such as fukuwarai, origami folding, karuta card game, and charity raffle drawing. Kimono dress-up, calligraphy workshop, onigiri (rice ball) making, and ema plaque wishing were also offered to enjoy the Shinnenkai.
• This year, Michael Croson brought Awa Odori dance to the Shinnenkai. The participants quickly learned the dance and marched on the floor. Croson joined Awa Odori team, and the team debuted at Japan Day, which was held at the Arlington Race Track last July.
• Tom Collins of England taught English from 2004 to 2007 in Oita city, Oita Prefecture in Kyushu and currently became Vice President of JETAA Chicago.
• When he was in England, he heard of
JET Program from his friend and applied for it. He had no knowledge of
Japanese culture or language, but he did karate as a teenager. “So I went
to Japan knowing nothing and fell in love with that,” Collins said.
• During his stay in Oita, his parents
visited him, so the family went sightseeing to the Jigokudani Hot Spring,
where intermittent springs blasted out every 10 minutes.
• One time, he had to go to a hospital. He was very anxious to speak Japanese, but he said that he was very lucky to have co-worker, teacher Yoshioka. He was like a host father and looked after him.
• On the last evening in Japan, Collins took a taxi ride to his home. He spoke with the driver in Japanese all the way to his home and said, “I thought that I achieved something. At least I made myself understood in Japanese.”
• Currently, he has worked at the British International School in Chicago. He said, “If I had never done JET Program, coming here wouldn’t be as easy.” Through his experiences in Japan where the culture was very different from his own, he got the taste of international living, so the experience made it easy for him to come to Chicago.
• Since he left Japan, almost 10 years have passed. He said, “I really want to go back there sometimes to see how things have changed and visit friends.”
• Daniel Pruitt of Chicago taught English
at three high schools in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture for three years
between 2009 and 2012.
• One of his schools was a high level academic school, and the other was a very sports oriented school. He joined aikido and kendo clubs and practiced martial arts with his students. When he had a class in the sports oriented school, the students were not so interested in learning English, but some students, who practiced kendo with him, helped his class. He said, “They learned a lot more because we had friendly bonds before my class began.” He also used comedies to encourage the students to speak English more, and then they participated in his teaching more and more.
• Pruitt said, “Under JET Program, teaching had a lot of fun. I met so many friends and learned so much.” He was also active after school. “I was living in Japan as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. It was a unique experience,” he said.
• On the other hand, he encountered some difficulties, but he said that he had already studied in Japan before becoming a JET teacher, so those things were not as big of a shock. “It was a different culture, you have to understand that they do things differently,” Pruitt said.
• Ella McCann taught at multiple schools
in Kamogawa City, Chiba Prefecture from 2012 to 2014.
• She was in charge of teaching English
at four kindergartens, three elementary schools, and three junior high
schools, so she taught kids from 5 to 15 years old.
• Outside of the schools, McCann tried to get involved in the community. She participated in festivals, sports days, and more. She also learned naginata, the wielding techniques for using a long-handled sword.
• She enjoyed eating Japanese food such
as okonomiyaki, sushi, and fresh seafood. Although her apartment was small,
it was a cozy place and took her only two minutes to a beach.
• Michael Croson taught Awa Odori
at the JET Shinnenkai. Who is he?
Karuta card table at JET Alumni Shinnenkai
Michael Croson (front) brought Awa Odori dance to the Shinnenkai