Jul 30

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

Although my current business trip prevented me from attending the JET sendoff party in New York last week, I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the one here on my last night in DC.  It was sponsored by the Embassy of Japan and held at the Ambassador’s Old Residence located on Embassy Row, and I was able to get an invite thanks to my friend Gina Anderson from JETAA DC (leftmost of the lovely group of JET alums on the right).

The event, scheduled from 6:30-8, was packed to the gills when I arrived a little before 7.  After the walk over from my hotel I wanted nothing more than a cold beer, but surprisingly only wine and soft drinks were offered.  Also, the dinner (a last supper of sorts for new JETs taking off the next morning) consisting of assorted sushi, yakitori, kushikatsu, shumai and seaweed salad was nice, but a bit paltry compared to my recollection of the sendoff meal in New York .   According to JETAA DC members, the food spread has been more impressive in recent years but they had a feeling the change was due to budget tightening.

Speaking of cuts to the budget, in his greetings Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki addressed the issue of the possibility of the JET program being eliminated.  He referenced the article in this week’s Washington Post (featuring our very own Steven, Monica and Shree!) detailing this, and expressed his desire that it could be prevented.  Later on when I was chatting with two Foreign Service Officer friends, Ambassador Fujisaki came over to say hello.  Unprompted, he reiterated his concern for the program, saying he added those comments to his speech when he realized it was such a timely issue.  Hopefully these influential voices on the ground supporting JET will reach Tokyo when they have to make the final decision regarding the program’s fate.

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