Nov 10

JetWit Diary is a new feature by Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94), founder and publisher of JetWit. Steven is available on a consulting basis to assist organizations with any membership building, social media consulting, creative communications and writing needs.

Early November for JETAA chapters usually means welcome back receptions and career forums.  It also means a great opportunity to gather JET-relevant info.

Here in New York, one thing that was clear in Ambassador Nishimiya’s speech at the JETAANY Welcome Back reception is that JETAA has played a significant role in helping to communicate the value of JET to the Japanese public and that JETAA’s efforts have been noticed and appreciated.  Those efforts have helped at the central government level to push back against some of the negative and often not-so-well-informed commentary that was getting out there.

That said, I also learned from a recently returned Aichi JET that Aichi will no longer take on prefectural JETs as of the coming year.  That news is a bit concerning.  Because if budget cuts at the local level take a toll on the JET Programme, and in turn the future number of JET alums, then that means a shift in our priorities.

Going forward, perhaps we need to focus our energy on local governments in Japan and finding ways to help them get a better return on their JET-vestment.  It’s worth noting that many JETs are already giving back to their local governments in lots of ways.  JETs have set up businesses, have brought tourists, have nurtured sister city relationships and done other things that have provided value.  You may not have heard about most of them, but they’re happening.  Which means on that level, the challenge is to identify them, gather them and make sure people know about them (e.g., by writing about them on JetWit, on chapter websites, in the media, etc.)

But it also means that the JET alumni community may need to be more innovative and creative (just like that time you were asked to teach a class with 2 minutes’ advance notice and no lesson plan).  It would be extremely helpful to our cause if we can figure out more ways to tap the energy of the JET alum community and channel it towards the benefit of local governments in Japan.

The JET-Sister City List Project is one attempt in that direction.  But the next step is to figure out what else we can do with it.

Another simple but effective way to lay the groundwork to make things happen is to build up affinity groups such as the JET Alumni Travel & Tourism group, the JETAA Education Professionals group, the JET Alumni Non-Profits group, the JET Alumni Writers group and the JET Alumni Policy & Government group.  And if you can think of another group that would be good to have, then go ahead and set it up and we can post it on JetWit.

Whatever we do as a community, it’s clear that now is the time to step up.  And keep in mind that every problem is also an opportunity.


JetWit Bits

  • One recent returnee at the Welcome Back Reception mentioned she found her job in NYC via JetWit and pointed out something I hadn’t really considered:  That it’s hard to find jobs back home while you’re in Japan, and JetWit seems to do a good job of filtering through JET-relevant jobs in ways that and CareerBuilder don’t.  That said, I also realize that JetWit is fairly America-centric.  Not by design, but just because that’s where I live and that’s where most job listings come from.  If anyone in the UK, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere wants to start posting JET-relevant jobs on the site, by all means please get in touch.
  • “What do people do after JET?” Another recent returnee told me that’s the question that was on her mind as she finished her contract.  And she appreciates that JetWit answers it.  Her comment reminded me that that’s the same question that drove me back in 2002 when I became the JETAANY Newsletter editor.  I had no idea where people went after JET and what they did.  As a result, a lot of the articles were driven by my curiosity to figure out the answer to these questions, one JET at a time.  We still probably don’t the answer for maybe half the alums out there.  (Contrary to popular belief, there is no central or government JET alum list anywhere that tracks where people are and what they’re doing.)  But now, at least, we know a great deal more than we used to.  And that’s helped strengthen the community and also created a positive feedback loop where the strength of the network draws in more JET alums who were previously off the radar screen.
  • Thanks to everyone for spreading the word about the JET-Sister City List Project.  I’m enjoying all the responses that come in.  And I noticed that JETAA Hawaii and JETAA Pacific Northwest posted the request to their membership which has led to more submissions.  Speaking of which, I’ll be in Seattle this weekend to visit some JET alumni friends and am fortunate that my trip happens to coincide with the JETAA PNW Happy Hour at Wann Izakaya!  (Also, if anyone in Seattle has an extra pack ‘n play lying around, let me know. :-)


Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94)
Brooklyn, NY

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