140 JET Participants Leave for Japan to Teach English
• JET participants, who teach English to Japanese students
or work for international relations for local municipalities, left O’Hare
Airport for Japan on July 23. The participants will give Japanese students
opportunities to interact with native English speakers. The program is
extremely valuable to the students in rural areas where the students seldom
have a chance to speak English with foreign visitors.
• A day before their departure, the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago hosted the pre-departure orientation and send-off reception on July 22 at the Holiday Inn Express Chicago O’Hare.
• In his opening remarks, Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado
said that the JET Program marked its 30th anniversary, and more than 62,000
JET participants from 65 countries have experienced the real life of Japan
through their work as JETs.
• The JET Alumni Association consists of about 55 Alumni chapters around the world. According to its website, the Chicago Chapter has more than 600 members in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. It has been actively engaged in providing professional networking opportunities, supporting the JET Program, serving as a resource for alumni seeking Japan-related education and employment opportunities, and promoting Japan and its culture in the U.S. through their communities.
• Austin Gilkeson, a JET alumnus, emceed the reception and took questions from the participants, who had some degrees of anxiety. Their concerns were driving in Japan, obtaining a drivers’ license, connecting with their students, and language barriers. Their excitements in Japan will be teaching English, motorcycling, food, Olympics, and riding shinkansen bullet trains.
• Michael Bugajski, who was a JET teacher in Niigata Prefecture from 2011 to 2012, is going to participate in the program again this year with his perspective on challenges such as facing teachers, who work in the Japanese school system. He said that every situation of each JET participant was different and every town, city, area, and prefecture was different. “Please do not be afraid of embracing that every situation is different,” he advised. He also encouraged the participants to join JETAA to share their own life-changing experiences.
• Tom Collins, President of JETAA Chicago, spoke about his own experience in Oita Prefecture to ease their anxiety and reminded them of the fact that they were also representing their own country.
• Maggie Beer of Iowa is going to go Fukui Prefecture
to teach English in a senior high school.
• Stephanie Tyler of Springfield, Ohio is going to Senamiyoko-machi
in Niigata Prefecture to teach English.
• Robin Jungwirth of Green Bay, Wisconsin was a fluent
Japanese speaker and was going to go to Obama City in Fukui. Her Japanese
teacher in her college recommended her to apply to JET.
• Adam Eisenstein of Chicago was also a fluent Japanese
speaker. His interest in the Japanese language started with games and
“otaku things” when he was a high school student.
The send-off reception on July 22, 2016
The Q&A session at the send-off reception
Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado