Dec 7

Paul Benson (Fukui-ken, 2006-08) is a New York-based freelance translator who has handled assignments ranging from securities laws to cook books.  A Translator’s Life follows some of Paul’s experiences as he makes his way in the J->E translation world.

On Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a small informal interview–all in Japanese–hosted by Shūkan NY Seikatsu (週刊NY生活), a free, weekly Japanese newspaper available in New York. They wanted to get a few JETs together to talk about our experiences for a special New Year’s issue to be published in a few weeks.

A little background: I was in Japan (Fukui-ken) for two years and returned in 2008 to immediately enter graduate school for Japanese at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While many returnees feel the need to constantly talk about their incredible experiences, I could not have felt more differently. In my first year I was surrounded by students interested in applying for JET (they didn’t want to talk about anything else) and in my second year I was so busy researching and writing I didn’t really think about my time on JET. In some ways this had the disservice of leading me to devalue my time in Japan, to shelve it and move on.

There were six JET alums in total at the interview: Steven Horowitz, Kia Cheleen, Jon Hills (who provided the venue at his company, Hills Learning), Tamar Entis, Stacy Smith and myself.  Shūkan NY Seikatsu‘s Publisher & CEO Ryoichi Miura and  and reporter Kaoru Komi asked us what we learned from Japan, what we loved about our areas, what we thought was cool about Japan, and what are reactions were to some of the criticisms Japanese teachers have of JETs (all of which you can read about in their upcoming free publication).

I found myself pleasantly surprised at how unique and special each JET’s experience was. I also recalled what I was told countless times before I went:  “ESID” (Every Situation Is Different), and it’s still true. Time passing hasn’t made my JET experience any less unique. The only difference is that now I like it that way.

I hope many of you get the chance to check out the article in Shūkan NY Seikatsu when it comes out December 28.  (I’ll be sure to post a summary translation of it on the JetWit site for those who need it.)

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