Nov 3

JQ Magazine: 2012 JETAA National Conference in San Francisco Recap

JETAA USA delegates at the residence of Ambassador Hiroshi Inomata, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco, Oct. 26, 2012.


By Pam Kavalam (Shiga-ken, 2007-09) for JQ magazine. Pam is Secretary of the JET Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY) and a participant at this year’s National Conference.

Thursday, Oct. 25

Hosted by the JETAA Northern California (JETAANC) chapter, the conference kicked off with a “reception” at Off the Grid, a collection of gourmet food trucks inspired by Asian night markets and conceived and run by JET alum Matt Cohen (Saga-ken, 2001-04).

Friday, Oct. 26

The delegates from 18 of the 19 JETAA USA chapters received a welcome from JETAANC President John Dzida, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco Hiroshi Inomata, and Takaaki Ogata from CLAIR New York. Noriko Watanabe from the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. gave a touching personal farewell from Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, who attended the past two JETAA National Conferences and will be leaving his post this year. Workshops topics included sister city-JETAA cooperation; databases and approaches for chapter membership management; and the utilization of Google apps and websites to publicize programs. There was also an update on the National 3/11 Relief Fund, which raised nearly $90,000 from all 19 chapters for Tohoku recovery efforts. The evening ended with a reception at the Consul General’s Residence and continued networking at Local Edition in the Financial District.

Saturday, Oct. 27

The Country Representatives discussed their visions for JETAA in the coming year and introduced the newly formed JETAA USA Advisory Board, which consists of four seasoned JET alums who will provide guidance to all national and regional leadership. It includes James Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94) and Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94) of JETAANY; Ryan Hart (Chiba-ken, 1998-99) of Pacific Northwest JETAA; and Jessyca Livingston (Hokkaido, 2003-06) of Rocky Mountain JETAA. Other workshops discussed organizing chapter finances; a JETAANC-run high school scholarship program; facilitating cultural exchange through continuing Japanese traditions such as kabuki; and a panel with members of the Northern California community, including JET alums Ken Wakamatsu (Hiroshima-ken, 1996-1998) at Salesforce and Ryan Kimura (Shizuoka-ken, 2004-06) of JCCC Northern California (and the owner of a purikura shop in San Francisco’s Japantown!). The panel discussed how JETAA chapters can form relationships and collaborate with community groups to engage members. The delegates finished the night with a CLAIR reception at Yoshi’s San Francisco and a cable car sightseeing tour.

Sunday, Oct. 28

The conference came to a close with discussions on Canada’s efforts on a national database project and inter-chapter collaboration. Delegates will continue to work together on subchapter growth, initiating and expanding sister city relationships, cross-chapter programming, and engaging JTEs brought to the U.S. through the Japan-U.S. Teaching Exchange (JUSTE) (a.k.a. the “Reverse JET” program) and other initiatives in the next year. The tentative 2013 National Conference host is the JETAA Minnestota chapter.


“I came back not only feeling energized about JETAA, but also the great ideas, suggestions and discussions I’m coming back with to share with the membership makes me so proud to be a part of this JET family. I met some very cool people, who will now be lifelong friends. I look forward to continuing to strengthen the bridge between the U.S. and Japan.” –Faye Valtadoros, Great Lakes JETAA President

“JETAA Northern California did a wonderful job hosting all of us. It was a terrific opportunity to start thinking about bigger picture issues for JETAA USA.” –Steven Horowitz, member of the JETAANY Board of Directors and founder of

“The National Conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet JET alumni from all parts of the country, and the San Francisco crew did a great job hosting. It’s always great to share ideas, topics ranging from running events to utilizing technology for communication, and it was very inspiring to see what other chapters are doing to help our communities.” –Thomas Osugi, JETAA Chicago volunteer coordinator

“The conference was a great success. We had many opportunities to collaborate with delegates from all the chapters, and share success stories and challenges each of our chapters face. I look forward to working together throughout the year to elevate JETAA to the next level.” –Monica Yuki, JETAANY President

 For the complete JETAA 2012 National Conference agenda, click here.

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