Nov 21

JetWit Diary 10.21.10

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.

There’s a lot going on in the JetWit (i.e., JET and JETAA) world right now.  New ideas.  New information.  New projects.  New people.


I had a great trip to Seattle, primarily to visit JET alum friends (and take in the JETAA Pacific Northwest Happy Hour).  I reconnected with former PNW Newsletter Editor Liz Sharpe, former PNW officers Ryan Hart and Shun Endo, and current President Sandra Sakai.  Also got to meet a lot of new people, and even JetWit contributor, Stephanie Boegeman, whom I’d never met in person and who is heading to Cambodia to work for JET alum-founded PEPY Tours).  As a chapter, PNW very much has their unchi together.  e.g., At the happy hour, they had a staff of 2 or 3 alums manning a spreadsheet on a laptop, taking everyone’s orders and keeping track of who owed what so that the bill worked out right in the end.

I also learned that the Kobe-Seattle sister city relationship is strong, and that despite the reduction in Aichi prefectural JETs, Hyogo-ken is still a big supporter of JET and perhaps a good model of how to really extract value from JET and from sister city relationships.  In fact, there’s a Hyogo Business & Cultural Center in Seattle that typically employs a JET alum.  (Currently it’s Ben Erickson who also serves as PNW’s Webmaster.)

Sister Cities

Speaking of sister cities, I recently spoke with Laura Giroux, Membership Director of Sister Cities International (based in D.C.)  The conversation came about thanks to Carlo Capua, a Fort Worth, TX-based JET alum who is on the Board of SSI and who got in touch after seeing the JET-Sister Cities List Project on JetWit.  The purpose was to learn more about SSI and see if there’s any potential for collaboration with the JET alum community.  But in the process, I gained some historical perspective on sister cities from Laura.

Did you know that the first ever sister city relationship was apparently formed in the 1930s between Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain?  Also, SSI was formed thanks to President Eisenhower who, following WWII, pushed for grassroots cultural exchanges especially among the Axis Powers (Japan, Germany and Italy) which led to the creation of SSI as well as many other sister city relationships in those countries.  As many of us have noticed, Japan in particular really took to the sister city concept.

FYI, the potential for collaboration with JET alumni may lie in the fact that sister city relationships often involves the over-60 set who have time to maintain the relationships and high school students who have time to go on exchanges.  As a result, it sounds like energy from internationally-minded folks in the 23-to-50 age range could be beneficial in some form.  Just something to tuck away in your brain for future use and ideas generation.

State of JET

The reason I’ve been focused on the sister city relationships is because it’s becoming clear that one of the key links to sustaining JET lies in identifying its value to Japanese local governments.  Based on feedback from knowledgeable sources, I’ve heard that the value of JET has been strongly recognized at the central government level.  The JETAA USA press release, the series of op-eds in the Japanese media (including one by JET alums Jim Gannon, Michael Auslin and Paige Cottingham-Streater), pressure perhaps from the U.S. State Department and general common sense of have merged to make key political constituencies aware of how significant a role JET has played and continues to play in US-Japan relations.

That said, there remain long-term concerns about JET’s survival.  And attrition at the local level figures as a major one of those concerns.

JET-Visitors Tally Project

In addition to the JET-Sister Cities List Project, another upcoming JetWit project aimed at the JET-local government relationship will be the “JET-Visitors Tally Project.” (That project name is not set in stone, btw.) The gist of the project is that JETs are directly responsible for some amount of tourism revenue for Japan given that most of us had family and friends visit them in Japan.  Hence, JETs have been directly responsible for significant tourism dollars (or rather, yen) pouring into Japan’s economy.  And this tourism income, as far as I can tell, is not being factored into any cost-benefit analysis or discussion of the JET Program or JETAA.

So, working off an idea raised by Dennis Li (an officer of the Texoma JETAA chapter) at this year’s JETAA USA Conference in NYC in August, this project will invite JETs and JET alums to tell us how many people (and “people-days”) they have been directly responsible for bringing to Japan.  The result will be a minimum estimated amount of tourism revenue that JET has generated for Japan.  So start reaching back into your visitor memories and stay tuned for the official announcement.

JetWit Funding

And lastly, it’s time to have a potentially uncomfortable discussion about money.

In a nutshell, for the last 3+ years I’ve been building JetWit as a free resource for the JET and JET alumni community.  This has all been an extremely enjoyable labor of love.  But I’m at the point where I need to start generating enough revenue to justify the time I’ll need to continue spending.  (And ideally to be able to pay other key contributors at some point.)

I’m going to put up a more detailed post about this in the near future.  But I believe to make JetWit continue to work and grow, the 3 most likely sources of revenue, and the 3 ways you can potentially help are:

1.  Direct member contributions – If you think JetWit is a public good worth supporting and that you’d like to see continue to exist, please feel free to contribute via PayPal.

2.  Advertising– Advertise your business or services on JetWit.  Or introduce JetWit to businesses likely to advertise.  (Contact information for a specific person at a company is always helpful.)  JetWit has become the de facto central source of JET-relevant information, original content and job listings, is read by key people at CLAIR, the Consulates and MOFA and gets over 13,000 hits/month.  Pretty good demographic, right?

3.  Grants – Do you know of a grant or foundation that would be a good fit for JetWit?  Even better, can you help put a proposal together?

I’m always open to ideas, suggestions and experimenting.  So feel free to get in touch with ideas and suggestions or just to brainstorm.


Here’s wishing JetWit readers a Happy Thanksgiving (and a belated Happy Thanksgiving for our Canadian readers).  I should mention that I’ll be in Tampa, FL around Christmas time and will be looking to meet up with folks from the JET alum community down there on Dec 26 or 27.  So get in touch if by any chance you’ll be nearby at that time.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu,

Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94)
Brooklyn, NY
jetwit [at]

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