Oct 5

Good Doc, Bad Doc

Nathaniel Simmons (Nara-ken, 2007-2009) is currently a communication professor at Western Governors University and lives in Columbus, OH, USA. He teaches a variety of intercultural, interpersonal, and health communication courses. He has researched and published several scholarly articles regarding privacy management between foreign English teachers and Japanese co-workers in Japan and is currently working on turning his research into a book.

What makes a good or bad medical professional?

From school medical checks to hospital visits, the average ALT has several medical encounters throughout their year(s) in Japan.  Intrigued by my own experiences within the Japanese medical world, I interviewed 49 foreign English teachers in Japan about their healthcare experiences, and here’s what they said (in a much more condensed format):

Bad providers violate patients’ cultural expectations 

ALTs perceived providers that “violated,” and/or did not perform culturally expected practices as “bad” providers.  In other words, if a Japanese medical profession didn’t act as expected, the ALT perceived the experience and the medical provider as negative, or “bad.”  As an example, one English teacher characterized the difference between a “good” and “bad” doctor.  The following is an excerpt that distinguished between two physicians this English teacher encountered while seeking treatment for bronchitis.

“I walk into his [the doctor’s] office and he’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re not healthy I can hear you from outside.  This isn’t just a cold is it?’ ‘No.’  Just from hearing me cough he knew that I wasn’t well.  He says to me, ‘You either have bronchitis or pneumonia.  We’re going to take an x-ray and blood tests to find out.’  Difference in doctor right there! One of them [the bad one] just hands out a diagnosis and is like I think you might need antibiotics and the other [the good one] is like I want to do a blood test and do an x-ray to make sure you need the antibiotics and if they’re the right kind.  So that doctor, the good doctor, figures out all the information I needed.  The bad doctor, is like, ‘I’m going to give you medicine now.  Goodbye.  Give me ¥600.’”

This ALT’s experience with an array of Japanese medical professionals within Japan allowed the ALT to construct a comparison and contrast of “good” and “bad” doctors.  According to this ALT, good doctors either knew quickly what was wrong with a patient or took immediate action to determine what was causing the patient illness or discomfort as well as how to alleviate it.  The “good” doctor sought to understand the patient’s perspective and the illness versus simply handing out an antibiotic which may not treat the illness for a fee.

Throughout interviews with ALTs, “bad” providers were described as:

  • Ignited fear within the patient(s) by thinking out-loud and muttering possible diagnoses.
  • Provided no verbal or nonverbal cues, especially on invasive exams like pap smears.
  • Did not provide an “appropriate/adequate” diagnosis.

Good providers attend to the patients’ cultural expectations

ALTs believed that “good” providers should attend to their cultural expectations (i.e., all of those standards and norms for practice in one’s home culture).  In other words, “good doctors” should behave and act like one might expect in their home country.  For instance, when discussing a positive time with a doctor, one English teacher said:

People here don’t always smile when they meet you and things like that.  As a westerner you think, ‘Oh you don’t like me,’ but no it’s just because Japanese don’t smile.  When he [the doctor] first met me, he smiled at me, he introduced himself [in English], and so far it’s all been working out.”

Overall, “good” providers were described in interviews as:

  • “Very nice and understanding.”
  • “Similar to what I’d experience back home.”
  • Had “appropriate” body language.
  • Exceeded expectations on providing medical education, understanding, and comprehension to patients.

What next?

This study raises the importance of intercultural health communication training.  More programs need it.  English teachers are placed throughout Japan by numerous organizations and boards of education and are expected to live well.  However, that “living well” can be complicated when foreigners expect intercultural interactions to progress flawlessly and as according to their own culture.  Some ALTs even chose to not re-contract due to their health care experiences in Japan (and not necessarily because they are in poor health).  Scholars argue about “who should adapt to whom,” but that doesn’t really help us in the day-to-day life of a foreigner navigating a medical system (in Japan).

Here are some suggestions, what others do you have?

  1. Expect difference.
  2. Do your homework.
    1. Research the Japanese medical system.
      1. What similarities, if any, exist between Japan and your home country?
      2. What differences, if any, exist between Japan and your home country?
    2. Google Japanese words for common symptoms and your current prescriptions.
    3. Ask questions to a friend, other English teachers, and co-workers (if you feel comfortable).
      1. What should I expect when I go to the doctor/dentist/hospital?
      2. What surprised you about the Japanese medical world? (to other foreigners).
      3. What over the counter medicine do you find works best for _____?
  3. Laughter helps.
  4. Remember that Japanese medical professionals are trained professionals.
  5. Insert your tips here ______________!

This blog post is an adaptation of the scholarly article:

Simmons, N. (2016). (De-)legitimizing medical professional discourses: Evaluations from foreign English teachers in Japan. Language & Intercultural Communication, 16(2), 1-18. doi:10.1080/14708477.2015.1113984

Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14708477.2015.1113984?journalCode=rmli20 

 


Jul 31

By Jon Dao(Toyama-ken, 2009-12). Jon works as a speech coach and personal trainer.


 

August is an exciting time for the JET community. For some, it’s the start of life as an ALT and CIR. For others, it marks the time to say goodbye to that trek and return home.

The decision to come home is a sigh of relief for some. I’ve heard many JETs say, “If this experience taught me anything, it’s that I never want to be that far away from family again.”

For me, it was a little harder to get adjusted.

But it’s not just the change of scenery that takes getting used to! What’s next for your career is something that isn’t covered enough.

Maybe you’ll go teach abroad in another country. Maybe you’ll apply to grad school. Maybe you’ll enjoy a year to “take it easy” and do some soul-searching. All of those are perfectly fine choices.

Back then, I’d disagree. I’d say that’s a waste of time. I would’ve said that’s just putting things on delay.

But no, all of those paths were much better than the one I took. After I became PA, I felt like I couldn’t just be an ALT anymore. I should be moving on to “bigger and better” things– something that I never clearly defined. And so I went back home without any real inkling of what to do next.

It became too easy to regret my decision.

I kept my sights set on the past which only made me more miserable. My day to day was just about existing, not living.

Finding a new job wasn’t easy– and this is something that deserves more attention.

For all the JETs who have their next gig lined up, that is great stuff.

For all the JETs who have no clue what’s in store next, I just want you to know you aren’t alone. There are many JETs in the same boat who don’t speak up enough about it. And when you don’t hear those kinds of stories, you might get even more frustrated with your situation.

But again, you are not alone.


Mar 17

Life in Japan: How a 1 Year Stay Becomes a Decade

By Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12) from his podcast Discussions with Dao. Jon works as a speech coach and personal trainer.


For the people who want to go to Japan, what’s your story? For the people who left, how’d you know you had enough? For the people who continue to stay, what’s your reason?

In this episode, Andy Morgan shares his ties to Japan. This is a great listen for anyone who’s planning to stay in the country after they finish JET. (Hint: learn the language!)

Andy’s first appearance detailed more of his roots and Intermittent Fasting knowledge. If you enjoyed that, be sure to check out the varying degrees of fitness talk in his second appearance,third appearance, and fourth!  


Jan 31

By Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12) for his podcast Discussions with Dao. Jon works as a speech coach and personal trainer.


 

In this episode of The Low Dao, Jon reconnects with two Toyama ALTs: Amy Derrah Noel and her husband Chris. Are you a soon-to-be returning JET worried about getting a job? This one’s for you! Have you ever thought about starting your own business? This one’s for you!

Listen to all the brutal honesty here:

Be sure to check out Amy’s site Wabi Scotia Pottery and like her Facebook Page!


Feb 10

Hot springs tips and hints: Not just for first-timers!

Posted by Audrey Akcasu (Omura, Nagasaki ALT, 2010-2014); Former editor-in-chief of Nagazasshi, Nagasaki’s premier English speaker-oriented events and culture magazine; Current writer and translator for RocketNews24, a Japan-based site dedicate to bringing fun and quirky news from Asia to English speakers. 


This probably comes as a refresher for many of you, but this infographic is helpful for newbies to the Japanese hot springs scene, but also contains some fun information that even seasoned veterans (and Japanese people) may not know. Plus, the drawings are really nice! A larger version of the infographic is available on TripAdvisor and you can read about this in more elaborate detail on RocketNews24. Happy bathing!

onsenThe infographic was released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Hokkaido District Transport Bureau in collaboration with BathClin.


Nov 14

Getting Unstuck: What’s Inside Your Pain Letter?

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams and CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to work happier by learning how to perform at their personal best. He blogs at www.jonathanbissell.com

If you haven’t heard about them, pain letters are a brilliant way to reach inside an organization and show key decision makers that you understand their pains (the real problems they’re facing) and have the experience and skill set to help solve them.

Although it can be challenging as an outsider to identify the real problems facing an organization, it’s often just as difficult to articulate your own real pains as an insider. Trouble is, it’s easy to waste a lot of time, energy and money when you’re not sure what your real problems are.

pain perspective

So here’s what to do: Use the questions below as a guide, then quickly write yourself a bulleted pain letter describing your pains. You’ll gain tremendous clarity on the real problems you’re facing – and you’ll be better equipped to see your pain from the perspective of an outsider.

  1. Symptom or Cause? When you’re running from one thing to the next, it’s difficult to quickly diagnose whether your pain is a symptom or a cause. So ask yourself this question: If I take away this pain, will the problem still remain? If the answer is yes, then you’re dealing with a symptom – and you need to dig deeper to find the true source of your pain. On the other hand, if your solution eliminates the source of your pain and solves a few other pains as well, then you’re most likely dealing with a cause. Focus your attention on causal pains and you’ll eliminate many of the symptoms as well.

Keep reading…


Oct 23

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams and CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance. He blogs at www.jonathanbissell.com

Staying in control of your schedule isn’t easy – especially when you’re stressed out, pressed for time, or dealing with multiple deadlines and the demands of others.

Control Your Schedule

But let’s face it: Sometimes the saboteur is you.

If you’ve ever created a great agenda for your day but found yourself doing something completely unrelated when you actually sat down to work, then you know exactly what I mean.

Having your agenda hijacked by someone else is bad enough, but when you’re the main culprit, the loss of control is even more demoralizing. But rather than play the blame game (haven’t you had enough of that?), let’s focus on solutions to the problem.

Here are 3 quick tips you can immediately put into practice to regain control of your schedule and stop hijacking your own agenda.

  1. Schedule Your Shadow Priorities. Shadow priorities are the things that you actually do even when you plan to do something else. These priorities are not listed on your agenda, but they exert a powerful influence on how you spend your time. So give them the attention they seek by including them on your agenda, but set clear boundaries around how much time you allot to them. For example, if your plan is to rethink your strategic objectives but you find yourself checking email instead, then incorporate email as a priority on your agenda and schedule specific time blocks to attend to it. You’ll find that scheduling your shadow priorities gives them the attention they crave – and the boundaries they lack.

Continue Reading…

 


Oct 9

Getting Unstuck: The 1 Word That Is Holding You Back

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams and CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance. He blogs at www.jonathanbissell.com

There’s a word that you’ve been using, and it’s time to let it go. Time to erase it from your vocabulary.

You’re not the only one who uses it. I do, too. We all do. But it’s holding you (and me) back.

It comes up in conversation whenever we talk about our deepest dreams and aspirations. And it’s almost always said with a sigh – a wistful and defeating release of air from the lungs.

someday

 

So what’s the word?

The word is “Someday,” as in, “Someday I’m going to…”

Just think about the last time you said it or heard it. For me, it happened just a few days ago. A friend of mine shared a magnificent dream that he wanted to pursue – a wonderful dream that’s entirely doable. But then he used that word, “Someday.” And he said it with that wistful sigh that always seems to tag along.

But someday is more than a wistful word loaded with longing. It’s a glass ceiling that’s meant to be shattered, and it’s preventing you from taking hold of your future.

Here are three reasons why “someday” is holding you back:

Continue reading here


Oct 7

Getting Unstuck: How To Turn Your Dreaming Into Doing

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams. He is also the CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance.

You’re a writer and you have a book inside you, but it doesn’t know how to get out.

Here are 3 simple steps to begin getting your book out of your head and where it belongs, on paper.

steps for JETWIT
3 Simple Steps To Begin Writing Your Book:

  • STEP #1: Write Your Introduction. Writing begins with…writing. It sounds silly, but just sitting down to write is the one simple step that many people never take. So take it. Grab a paper and pen, or your laptop, and sit somewhere comfortable. Now imagine we’re sitting there together, and I ask you to tell me about your book. “What’s your book about?” I ask you. Now write or type your answer. That’s it. Just tell me about your book. If it’s helpful, try to answer questions such as Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Once you’re finished, you’ll have created the Introduction to your book! Now on to step #2.

Continue reading here.


Sep 30

Yvonne Thurman-Dogruer (Kagoshima-ken, 1994-95) is a former JETAANY President and Treasurer. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University, had a ten-year career at its Center on Japanese Economy and Business, and ran her own business for a number of years.  Yvonne currently consults for small businesses and start-ups while continuing the full-time job-search.

I haven’t read Spencer Johnson’s best-selling book, but I love the title.   It seems “Who Moved My Cheese” advises on how to deal with changes in one’s life (anecdotally, mice in a maze sniff around to find their cheese, they do, then somehow the cheese is moved, and the mice have to start all over and sniff their way to find it again)…something we can all relate to. I’m looking for my cheese right now, evaluating the decisions I’ve made up until this point in my professional life, and trying to see where I’m headed.  Often, I’ve decided to move my own cheese.  Change is good. Well, when you are the one to initiate the change, it’s usually good. When something else moves your cheese it’s downright unsettling.

When I was a young twenty-something I felt very much in control of my professional development (didn’t we all?). The JET Program started a great journey and unsurprisingly set my career path for more than a decade following.  I applied for it on a whim after college, and started to move my cheese.  What an exciting year that was!  The time immediately following my return home from Japan was also one of fun professional discovery, as it is for most JET alums.  In 1995 I finished my JET contract in Kagoshima and dabbled in the fields of international education and international relations.   The non-profit world drew me in, and my career path started to take shape. Over the course of the next few years I worked at Japan Society for a bit, set my sights on graduate studies at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and then became a program officer at Columbia’s Center on Japanese Economy and Business.   I found a very active JET alumni community working and studying at Columbia, which was great, because that meant I was with people who sincerely understood and valued the depth of experience I had while working and living in Japan.  Grad school was the very logical next step for me to take, and in 1999, I was accepted into the program at SIPA after two arduous rounds of applications. Then the real work started.  I surprised myself and chose an international finance and business concentration (you see, as an English major in college I somehow skated through four years without having one accounting or economics class).  Perhaps I was overly-confident of my ability to take on new challenges after living in Japan, or, I was being practical — I knew if I wanted to be an effective organizational leader when I grew up, I’d need strong quantitative and finance skills.  The next big journey started, and for three years I held on to my full-time job while doing my graduate work.  I moved on up to the east side into a shoebox of an apartment on 88th Street and cried through every Accounting 101 assignment in the wee hours of the morning, with text books and papers scattered across my very stylish black pleather futon.  Painful, but good years.  In retrospect, no matter how challenging the work, life in general had order to it.  I was on the path to one clear, undeniable goal of getting that degree.  Sometimes I miss the simplicity of it all!

Working as a program officer at an international research center in a top academic institution may sound truly awesome, and it was.  However, I did plan to move my cheese once I finished my degree to explore other opportunities.  Well, life is what happens between making plans. September 11th happened…during my final year at SIPA. On-campus recruiting came to a halt.  The job market froze. The world turned upside down and we all seemed to function at a bare minimum — or at best, on autopilot for a while, trying to cope with the shock of it all. Not so good times.

Grateful to have a very good job in a very good place, I stayed on at the Center.  I was promoted up to a Director position, took part in some groundbreaking research and programs, and managed two major book projects with leading Japan scholars around the globe. I had a great team, an awesome sempai, a nurturing and encouraging environment, and I learned volumes about management.  Then, it came time again for me to break out and explore.  But wait– it’s 2008. The economy is tanking. I had a stable job at a good place (something I covet now).  What do I do?  I choose to leave it and become an entrepreneur. Read More


Sep 25

JET alum publishes book on getting unstuck: “Dream in Color, Think in Black & White”

dreamincolorJonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) has written a “how-to” guide to getting unstuck and pursuing your life or career dreams. A timely topic as many JETAA chapters are hosting career forums over the next few weeks. His book, entitled “Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams” is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. For complete details visit amazon.com/author/jonathanbissell.   

Description:

The world is filled with dreamers, but it’s owned by people who do. Yet too many dreamers are stuck, unhappy and unfulfilled in their life or career. They don’t know how to move forward or what to do next. Dream in Color, Think in Black & White is a focused and powerful book that provides practical and encouraging step-by-step  guidance for dreamers everywhere who want to get unstuck and fulfill their dreams, but don’t know how.

Introduction:

Admit it. You’re stuck. Somewhere along the way, you had a dream that you let go of. But it hasn’t let go of you. You’re the reason this book was written. Because dreams matter. Dreams are powerful. And sometimes dreams just won’t go away – no matter how impractical, ill-timed or financially risky they are.

This is a book about getting unstuck in your life or career. It’s about learning to Dream in Color and Think in Black & White. There are three parts to this book: Dreaming in Color, Thinking in Black & White, and Fulfilling Your Dreams. Each part contains practical “how to” steps and examples explaining how to get unstuck and move toward your dream. The rest is up to you. Let’s get started.

Early Responses to Dream in Color, Think in Black & White:

“a superb must-read…a roadmap of balance and success”
Chaya Abelsky, Master Certified Coach, Principal at Triumphant Journeys LLC and Director of the NonProfit HelpDesk.

“powerfully written…compels you into creating a plan”
Jane A Creswell, Master Certified Coach, founder of IBM Coaches’ Network, CEO of iNTERNAL iMPACT, LLC, and the author of two books.

“a how-to guide for anyone seeking career and personal fulfillment”
Luther Jackson, Board Member, American Leadership Forum – Silicon Valley.


Jul 14

Community Involvement on JET: Don’t Be Afraid to Start From Scratch

By Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu 2013-2014), organizer for Cross-Cultural Kansai, seeking work opportunities in NYC starting August 2014!

Cross-Cultural Kansai's Summertime Picnic at the Kamogawa river in Kyoto. Celebrating global identities with delicious food, beautiful weather, and amazing friends.

Cross-Cultural Kansai’s Summertime Picnic at the Kamogawa river in Kyoto, celebrating global identities with delicious food, beautiful weather, and amazing friends.

At the JET Program Tokyo Orientation last summer, we were all told to get involved in our communities as much as possible. It seemed like good advice, so I jotted it down in my list of goals, expecting this promise to somehow become less vague once I settled in.

I’m not sure how I envisioned it would happen. Obviously there wouldn’t be a community, gathered with open arms, ready welcoming me in when I arrived. Fair enough. But really, what were we supposed to do?

A friend suggested that I check out Meetup.com, and I was surprised to see how popular it was in Kansai (not nearly as expansive as New York or London, but still!). Every weekend, I’d join events in Osaka or Kyoto, and I never failed to fall deep into conversations with new friends about our backgrounds, where we came from, how it affects who we are today and where we want to go in the future. I loved listening to their stories. And the more I came across these stories, the more I thought about how great it would be to create a space for them, a community premised on sharing these parts of ourselves.

For the complete story, click here.


May 30

Life After JET: Gabai Life!-Educational Journeys of an Ex-JET from Saga

By Jose Ariel Ramos (Saga-ken, 1998-2001).  Jose recently moved to Central Texas where he now works as a recruiter for a charter school.

Gabai Life!-Educational Journeys of an Ex-JET from Saga

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

I reach for my phone. I want to check my email. I’m pretty sure there is something important there-a job lead, a response from a recruiter, a rejection, an actual offer. I put it back on the table. I go back to re-writing my resume and looking on JETwit, on Idealist, on Linkedin, on many other websites where jobs are posted. Again. Again. Again. Maybe this time I’d get a yes.

This has been my life for the past eight months: re-writing my resume; re-arranging the cover letter; sending all required documents in; filling in another online form at another job application site. I’ve applied to teaching positions in Japan, Oman, Korea, Singapore, China. I’ve applied to be director for different university overseas programs. I’ve applied to grad school. I’ve probably applied for no less than two hundred or so jobs-I’d lost count a while ago. I’ve gotten about six interviews but no luck. “How did I get here?” I’d find myself asking.

I got on JET right after graduating university with a Music and French degree in 1998. With an open mind and plenty of optimism I went to Saga ken as an ALT to find out what Japan was like. At that time cellphones were just starting to be widely used, dial-up was the common way to connect on the net, and we were still making long distance telephone calls on landlines. Saga was a rural place that had it’s own unmistakable dialect-“Gabai oishika!” I would find myself saying after a meal (Really delicious!). I made plenty of mistakes but made plenty of friends, and I had incredible experiences. The first times I went snowboarding, white-water rafting, even bungee jumping were in Japan. Three years of adventure with other adventurous people. I decided back then that that was the kind of life I wanted to live-a life of voyage, excitement, freedom.

I came back home in 2001 right before 9/11, Read More


May 7

Life After JET: Buyer Beware

Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12).

When you witness someone in their element, it’s mesmerizing. They have this sort of flow to how they move and deal with other people, projects, and even problems. No way are they flawless, but hey, that term’s reserved for one environment only—and it ain’t the career world.

For a lot of us, we get an extra kick finding out that that successful dude?  They did the JET Program! But for every JET alum who’s found their niche, there’s plenty who’ve taken awhile to find their footing. Read More


Apr 8

Let’s Talk Japan, Episode 22 – A Conversation with Dave Carlson, host of the Japanofiles Podcast

 

Let’s Talk Japan is a monthly, interview format podcast covering a wide range of Japan-related topics.  Host Nick Harling (Mie-ken, 2001-03) lived in Japan from 2001 until 2005, including two great years as a JET Program participant in Mie-Ken.  He practices law in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife who patiently listens to him talk about Japan . . . a lot.

UnknownIn this episode, I speak with Dave Carlson, a longtime resident of Japan and host of the popular Japanofiles Podcast.  Originally from Michigan, Dave first came to Japan in 1983.  Since then, he has resided in Japan on and off for 21 of the last 30 years.  Together, we discuss Dave’s life in Japan, his podcast, and how to have a positive experience living in Japan.

If you’ve never listened to the Japanofiles Podcast, I highly recommend it.

Nick

If you have not already done so, be sure to “Like” the podcast on Facebook, and follow the podcast on Twitter @letstalkjapan.  Additionally, please consider leaving a positive rating and/or review in iTunes. 


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