Jan 21

From JETwit Media Productions, it’s the first ever episode of the JETAA-sphere Podcast! In Ep01, Zachary Piper (Kochi-ken, 2001-04), Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94), and Joe Moore III (Saga-ken, 2010-13) have a frank (and not always entirely accurate) conversation about what the heck JETAA is, why it exists, what its components are, and how they work.

The JETAA-sphere Podcast is availabe on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, and anywhere else you might download podcasts from.

To listen to other podcasts by JETs and JET alumni, check out the JETAA Podcast Roundup by  Scot Maupin (Hokkaido, 2005-09).


Jan 20
Japan PM Kishida gets Biden's "strong" commitment on Senkaku defense

In advance of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Friday virtual meeting with President Joe Biden, the US-Japan community has issued a letter to the government of Japan urging it to relax its border restrictions in order to allow foreign students and scholars as well as family members abroad to enter Japan.

“Members of the US-Japan Network for the Future initiated this petition to call on the Japanese government to expand the range of foreign visitors allowed to enter Japan subject to vaccine, testing, and quarantine requirements. The petition will be delivered to representatives of the Japanese government in Washington, DC, and in Tokyo. We encourage Japan scholars, experts, and others involved in student exchange, regardless of nationality, to sign the petition.”

https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/calling-on-japan-to-open-to-foreign-students-and-scholars.html

Over 100 scholars, educators, policy practitioners, and bridge builders of the US-Japan community have signed the letter, a number of whom are JET alumni:

Paige Cottingham-Streater | JUSFC
  • Paige Cottingham Streater, Executive Director, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (Also co-founder and Board Chair of US JETAA, and one of the original founders of the JET Alumni Association back in 1988!)
Jim Gannon (@JimGGannon) / Twitter
  • James Gannon, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA) (Also Vice-Director of US JETAA and a member of the JETAA USA Board of Advisors)
The Asia Group | Michael Green - The Asia Group
  • Michael Green, Director of Asian Studies and Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Georgetown University; Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Michael was a Monbusho English Fellow (MEF) which was like the beta version of the JET Program.)
Drake University on Twitter: "Associate Professor of Political Science Mary  McCarthy was in South Korea in June as part of the Bridging the Divide  program. Attendees met with Korean policymakers, politicians, academics,
  • Mary M. McCarthy, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Department of Political Science, Drake University
Anand Rao | SUNY Geneseo
  • Anand Rao, Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Relations, State University of New York at Geneseo
FSI | Shorenstein APARC - Benjamin Self
  • Benjamin Self, Vice President, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
  • Note: There may be other JET alumni among the signatories. If you identify one, you can email jetwit@jetwit.com.
Leonard J. Schoppa, Jr. · Conference on Cultural and Educational  Interchange (CULCON)
  • Leonard Schoppa, Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia; Senior Advisor, US-Japan Network for the Future
  • Ryan Shaffer, President of Japan-America Society of Washington DC
GAVIN H. WHITELAW | Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
  • Gavin Whitelaw, Executive Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University
Bahia Simons-Lane - Numata, Gunma (2005-2007)
  • Bahia Simons-Lane, Director, US JETAA and former President of JETAA Florida


Jan 18

Hi, and welcome to the new podcast space here on JETwit.com. I’m Scot Maupin (Hokkaido, 2005-09), a JET alum/podcaster, and every month I’ll serve you up a list of podcasts with new episodes by myself and other JET Alumni/podcasters. I will also be featuring some episodes from month to month with more detailed write-ups.

But for now, let me start by just introducing myself (Is your 自己紹介 still etched into your brain?) and presenting a full list of podcasts I have (so far) and a bit about them. If you’d like to be added to this list, or let me know something to change, then please still use this form to let us know about it and we’ll add you to the subscriptions we monitor.

AIGA Design Podcasts

by Lee-Sean Huang (Oita ’03-06)

How is design changing as a discipline and profession? What are the current landscapes and future horizons of innovation? ​What are the opportunities for the design community? AIGA’s Lee-Sean Huang explores these questions and more with creative practitioners and​ business​ leaders​ to deepen the impact of design across all disciplines on business, society, and our collective future.

Asian American Podcasters Assn Podcast

Lee Uehara (Chiba ’93-95)

The official podcast of the Asian American Podcasters Association.

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EFT Tapping Like a Mother

Lee Uehara (Chiba ’93-95)

EFT Tapping Like a Mother is where you’ll meet your EFT fairy godmothers, Lee Uehara and Collette Schildkraut. Lee and Collette will help you navigate the ocean of crappy emotions and blocks that a getting in your way of a fantastic life.

How to Japanese Podcast

Daniel Morales (Fukushima ’05-08)

Everyone learning Japanese needs a senpai – this podcast is your digital senpai. Join Daniel from HowToJapanese.com and guests to learn what strategies have been effective for them as they study, live, and work in Japan and using Japanese.

House of Lee NYC

Lee Uehara (Chiba ’93-95)

Lee and her guests will share life’s random DIYs, hacks, tips and how-tos for resourceful living. A former teacher, Lee breaks it down and keeps it real. With New York City as home base, you’ll get Lee’s latest fun spots to explore in town

Japan On Film

Percival Constantine (Kagoshima ’08-13)

The top podcast for discussion of Japanese movies.

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Krewe of Japan

Doug Tassin (Fukushima ’07-10)

Krewe of Japan is a weekly podcast co-hosted by Doug Tassin that takes listeners on audio journeys through Japanese culture. With our hosts as your guide, and the help of guest experts, Japanese natives, and ex-pats, understanding Japan is now easier than ever before.

Now and Zen Japan

Andrew Hankinson

Insightful conversations with Japan experts focused on business and culture, with stories of success & failure and lessons learned. Entertaining and educational, discover first-hand what it’s like to live, work, and experience the most fascinating country in the world. Direct from Tokyo, this is the Now and Zen Podcast!

PractiMama Parenting

Lee Uehara (Chiba ’93-95)

The PractiMama NYC Show is where your host, Lee, keeps it real with practical tips for resourceful parenting – because honestly, who has time for anything else?!

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Reinventing Professionals

Ari Kaplan (Hyogo ’93-94)

This podcast hosted by Ari Kaplan is designed to offer ideas, guidance, and perspectives on how to effectively navigate a perpetually shifting professional landscape, with a unique focus on the legal industry and the technology that is driving its evolution.

Season by Season

Alexis Agliano Sanborn (Shimane ’09 – 11)

Join Alexis and Kit, lifelong friends who now live on opposite coasts, as they explore poetry, music, and sound on a journey through the rhythm of nature expressed by the seasons.

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The Perfect Show

Scot Maupin (Hokkaido ’05-09)

The Perfect Show is a podcast where host Scot Maupin catalogs the perfect things in life, one by one. Each episode he examines something that he or someone else thinks is perfect.

USLawEssentials Law & Language

Stephen Horowitz (Aichi ’92-94)

The USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast helps non-native English-speaking lawyers and law students improve their English and better understand US law and American legal culture. Many of these short episodes are tied to a legal news event or case in the United States. Others include interviews with multilingual lawyers (including a number of JET alumni.) The shows are hosted by attorneys experienced teaching US law and legal English to students and lawyers from around the world.

Upper West Side Corner Talk

Lee Uehara (Chiba ’93-95)

Welcome to the Upper West Side (UWS, NYC) Corner Talk podcast with your host, Lee Uehara. You know, it’s news that you’d get from a friend or neighbor – at the corner.

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よっぱれ英会話 English Nomikai

Emmalee Manes (Toyama ’16-19)

In this eikaiwa podcast targeted to Japanese English-learners, Emmalee Manes talks to fellow JET alumni, current JETs, and Japanese English teachers and friends about cultural differences between Japan and their home countries (all while sharing some drinks!)


Oct 22

Celebration of JET Alumni – October 28

October 28 at 8 PM ET / 7 PM CT / 5 PM PT
Japan time: October 29 at 9 AM JT

Register free to get the access link:
https://usjetaa.wildapricot.org/event-4528144

In the lead up to next year’s 35th anniversary of the JET Program, join USJETAA for a creative program celebrating JET through the success of the alumni. Highlighting the contributions of JETs to the U.S.-Japan community, this variety show brings together the diverse community of JET alumni with snapshots into their experiences with arts, culture, research, and more!



Jul 14

JETAA‎‎‎‏‏‎​ Podcast Beat is a weekly round-up of current JET and JET alumni podcasts and podcast appearances compiled by Emmalee Manes (Toyama-ken, 2016-19)

Do you have a podcast or did you recently appear in a podcast? Help us share it with the community by filling out this form.

Welcome to the first-ever JETAA Podcast Beat post! I hope the beat will be a great way for everyone to stay updated on JET alumni as well as current JET involvement in podcasts. If you have the chance, please enjoy listening to one of these recent episodes this week!

よっぱれい英会話 English Nomikai Podcast

In this eikaiwa podcast targeted to Japanese English-learners, Emmalee Manes (Toyama-ken, 2016-19) talks to fellow JET alumni, current JETs, and Japanese English teachers and friends about cultural differences between Japan and their home countries (all while sharing some drinks!)

BONUS: POWER HOUR II with Joe, James, and Caralynn

このエピソードでは、EmmaleeとJoeとJamesとCaralynnは、一時間で60杯のショットを飲みます。その時間で色々のトピック話して、段々酔っ払いになっています。

Instagram: @yoppareikaiwa

Krewe of Japan

Krewe of Japan is a weekly podcast co-hosted by Doug Tassin (Fukushima-ken, 2007-10) that takes listeners on audio journeys through Japanese culture. With our hosts as your guide, and the help of guest experts, Japanese natives, and ex-pats, understanding Japan is now easier than ever before.

20. Season 1 Recap

Just like that, Season 1 comes to a close! Nigel, Jenn, & Doug peel back the curtain and reflect on all the behind-the-scenes effort & challenges that went into launching, continuing, and finishing the inaugural season of Krewe of Japan!

They discuss their favorite episodes, re-visit bloopers (#DougThings), read out some listener feedback, & tease what’s to come! Don’t miss out on this fun stroll down memory lane and help re-live the first season (of hopefully many) of the Krewe of Japan Podcast. See you in August for Season 2!

Mata kondo ne!

USLawEssentials Law & Language

The USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast, co-hosted by Stephen Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94) helps non-native English speaking lawyers and law students improve their English and better understand US law and American legal culture. Many of these short episodes are tied to a legal news event or case in the United States. Others include interviews with multilingual lawyers (including a number of JET alumni.) The shows are hosted by attorneys experienced teaching US law and legal English to students and lawyers from around the world.

10. The Multilingual Professional: Rebecca Chen

This episode of the USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast continues our series of interviews with multilingual lawyers — but this time with multilingual paralegal Rebecca Chen (Akita-ken, 2014-17). Stephen Horowitz is our interviewer and he talks to Rebecca about the important roles paralegals play in law firms. Rebecca offers a great inside perspective on her work with a prominent immigration law firm and how a team of legal professionals helps diverse clients from around the world achieve their immigration goals. And you probably have goals, too – such as learning legal English!


Jun 18

Episode 8 of the USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast an interview with Scott Alprin (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-95) of Alprin Law Office, P.C. Scott is trademark and intellectual property attorney who speaks Japanese and works with many international clients. He discusses his career path and shares insights on law and practicing as an IP attorney.

JET alum Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94), in collaboration with Daniel Edelson of USLawEssentials.com, recently launched “USLawEssentials: Law & Language,” a legal English podcast intended for foreign lawyers, law students, and LLM students as well as other non-native English speakers who want an enjoyable way to improve their legal English. The podcast episodes cover a variety of topics including legal news events and discussions of recent cases as well as interviews with multilingual lawyers. The discussions use accessible language with helpful explanations along the way.


Jun 11

Posted by: Doug Tassin (Fukushima-Ken ALT, 2007-2010 & Krewe of Japan Podcast Co-Host)

This week on the Krewe of Japan Podcast

JET Program acceptance letters have gone out & short-listers are on the edge of their seats waiting to find out their placements. Nigel, Jennifer, & Doug talk about the months-long emotional roller coaster of preparing to relocate to a new country (for JET or any program). Departing JETAA Mid-South President Megan DeVille stops by to talk about her pre-departure JET experiences, from interviews to arriving at a tiny regional airport in Aomori Prefecture. She also talks about life after JET and how to keep Japan in your life despite returning to your home country.

The Krewe of Japan Podcast is a weekly episodic podcast sponsored by the Japan Society of New Orleans. Check them out every Friday afternoon around noon CST on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Stitcher.  Want to share your experiences with the Krewe? Or perhaps you have ideas for episodes, feedback, comments, or questions? Let the Krewe know by e-mail at kreweofjapanpodcast@gmail.com or on social media (Twitter: @kreweofjapan, Instagram: @kreweofjapanpodcast, Facebook: Krewe of Japan Podcast Page, & the Krewe of Japan Youtube Channel). Until next time, enjoy!


Feb 6

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We recently learned about the National Association for Black Engagement with Asia (NABEA) which seeks to connect Black Asia specialists in both the public and private sectors. They also hope to increase the representation of Black Americans engaging with Asia. Through their programming, they work towards building a mutually beneficial economic, political, social, and cultural relationship between Black America and the Indo-Pacific region.

There seems to be a natural connection between the JET alumni community and NABEA. And in fact, we’re currently aware of four JET alumni who are also members of NABEA:

According to Fisher, “NABEA is an important and growing community of Black Americans who are specialists actively engaged in Asia. Their publicly accessible and searchable database of Black, Indo-Asia experts is a great addition to the continued work of increasing representation and inclusion in the U.S.-Japan community specifically, and the Indo-Asia region more broadly.”

If you are interested in joining NABEA, go to their website for more info: http://usnabea.org/

And if you’re already a member, feel free to post in the comments section below and let everyone know!


Jan 25

Click image to read article

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Since forming in 1987, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) has become one of the world’s largest international exchange programs, with nearly 65,000 people from 65 countries selected to promote English language learning and teaching in Japan. To commemorate its first three decades, the JET Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY) is hosting an equally ambitious event.

“The main purpose of the JETAANY Gala is to celebrate 30 years of the JET Programme and all we hope it will become,” said JETAANY events chair Andy Shartzer. “JET has helped the grassroots community abroad, and our alumni chapters explore how we can continue its message. Our goal is also to establish JETAANY as a greater presence in the U.S.-Japan community.”

The sold-out gala, which will be held at Brooklyn’s Dumbo Loft on February 3rd, will feature multiple generations of JET participants and community members with ties to Japan, along with a taiko performance, an awards ceremony, and a prize drawing. Donations are from local companies and organizations including publisher Vertical, Inc., Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center, and the venerable Japan Society of New York.

“Since its inception 30 years ago, the JET Programme has been a unique and outstanding facilitator of grassroots exchange between the U.S. and Japan,” said JETAANY president Wendy Ikemoto. “As one of the largest and most active alumni chapters in the U.S., we’re honored by the overwhelming response received.”

According to Shartzer, JETAANY plans to host similar events in the future, and is delighted to form new partnerships. For sponsorship and donation proposals, email Wendy at president@jetaany.org. For more information on JETAANY, visit http://jetaany.org.


Dec 23

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The JET Program and the US-Japan Relationship: Goodwill Goldmine’

“While focused solely on the American experience, the outline of the history and intention behind the JET Program’s creation is a fascinating and illuminating one. One hopes that this book will be the start of the conversation and academic study on JET’s other accomplishments and help complete the picture of a fallible but venerable institution.” (Lexington Books)

 

 

By Eden Law (Fukushima-ken, 2010-11) for JQ magazine. Eden is the current JETAA New South Wales President (in Sydney, Australia) and Australian JET Alumni Association Country Representative, and handles the social media/website side for JETAA International as Webmaster. He also runs the Life After JET podcast.

Note: Spelling is always problematic when dealing with international differences. I shall be spellingProgramthe way it is referred to in the book and the title, to avoid inconsistencies. Apologies, especially to any fellow Australians reading this. However, Ill be keeping my quixotically placedus andrs.

Created in 1987, The JET Program has brought tens of thousands of young people from around the world to work, live and experience life in Japan. An international exchange program of a diplomatic nature, its aims were to improve global perceptions towards Japan and to internationalised Japanese local communities, all through the format of teaching and improving English skills in schools. Since then, articles and papers about the effectiveness of JET has focused primarily on its impact (or lack thereof) on the level of English language ability on the student population, leading to questions about the feasibility of maintaining the high costs of the program. At least once, the program came close to termination: In 2010, a Japanese government budget review panel called for the discontinuation of JET, before the subsequent administration of Shinzo Abe saved it, setting the agenda for expanding numbers in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

More positive literature exists, of course: David L. McConnell’s Importing Diversity: Inside Japan’s JET Program, published in 2000, is the most well-known example, written by an academic who was once a JET participant. Seventeen years on, Emily T. Metzgar (Shimaneken, 1993-95), herself also once a JET and now an academic, has penned a follow-up of sorts, entitled The JET Program and the US-Japan Relationship: Goodwill Goldmine, which, as described in its title, confines its evaluation of the program on its international impact in relation to the United States and Japan. The JET Program justifies its restricted focus on this bilateral relationship on its assertion that the program was originally created with the United States in mind as the first target for Japan to improve its international image abroad. Statistically, 50 percent of the total number of participants throughout the program’s history have been sourced from the United States (and in an impeccable sense of timing, the book arrived on the eve of the program’s big 30th anniversary celebrations and JETAA conference in Washington, D.C., featuring Metzgar as one of the headline presenters).

Commentators seeking to put a more positive outlook on the program’s accomplishments have had to look outside of the hoary old topic of education. The JET Program settles on examining how it worked as a “soft power” initiative for Japan’s global image (the topic of how JET fared as an internationalisation agent of Japanese local community is, as Metzgar says, best left “as a promising research topic for an ambitious doctoral student,” though she does comment on these other aims later on). For those wondering, yes, the book argues that JET has been enormously successful in this aspect. Examples are plentiful in The JET Program: recalling the threat of JET’s culling high-profile American JET alumni in organisations such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and JCIE/USA defended it by referring to its “soft power” success. In other less fraught periods, the book cites senior members and policymakers of both governments who spoke positively of JET’s contributions to their countries’ relationship, implying acknowledgement of the same thing.

Read More


Mar 20

"JET Programme participants are in a very good position to match supply with demand by bringing people together, and there are many great examples of ALTs, CIRs and SEAs using crowdsourcing, social networks, recorded videos, and event planning to support their local community." (Courtesy of Julia Inisan)

“JET Programme participants are in a very good position to match supply with demand by bringing people together, and there are many great examples of ALTs, CIRs and SEAs using crowdsourcing, social networks, recorded videos, and event planning to support their local community.” (Courtesy of Julia Inisan)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Julia Inisan (Kagawa-ken, 2013-15) first visited Takamatsu City, the capital of Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, in 2011 on a two-week tea ceremony study tour. That excursion served as a life-changing experience for the Frenchwoman as she fell in love with the city and decided to apply for a spot as a CIR there.

As a JET, Inisan has established herself as a valuable member of her local community, working diligently to attract tourism to the area and promote it on a global stage. But Inisan’s work in Japan has been far from limited to just Shikoku: She currently works to support the next generation of JETs as a programme coordinator for CLAIR. JQ caught up with her to discuss her history and blossoming career in Japan.

What attracted you to Japan in the first place?

As an elementary school student, I was fascinated by mythology and folklore and started reading classics like the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) translated into French. I was also moved by the aesthetics expressed in works such as Murasaki Shikibu’s novel The Tale of Genji and Hayao Miyazaki’s movie Princess Mononoke, and I decided to study Japanese in high school to learn more about the archipelago’s traditional culture.

I then had the opportunity to study for one year at Higashi High School in Kitakata, where I fell in love with Fukushima Prefecture’s gorgeous landscapes, and later at Kyoto University, another life-changing experience. What kept me coming back each time was the kindness of the locals, which helped me feel at home despite the cultural differences.

What made you decide to become a CIR, and what was that like compared with your previous experience living in Japan?

I was a CIR in Takamatsu City from 2013 to 2015. I had always wanted to work for the Japanese local government and promote lesser-known areas of Japan, which is why I applied for the job. As I already had strong connections to Takamatsu, receiving my acceptance letter was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I was Takamatsu City Office’s first CIR. Without a predecessor, it was difficult for me to grasp the extent of my responsibilities at first. Fortunately, I received great advice from the CIRs working at Kagawa Prefecture and from my JET Programme sempai. Finding a good balance between work, volunteering, and private time was also challenging, but my experiences with the local community have been incredibly rewarding.

You currently work as a programme coordinator for CLAIR in Tokyo. How did that opportunity come about, and what kinds of things are you responsible for?

When my two-year contract ended in Takamatsu, my contracting organization encouraged me to apply to be a programme coordinator job at CLAIR. I felt very grateful to the JET Programme and wanted to contribute to its development while supporting Japan’s local communities at a global level. I am learning a lot from my Japanese and foreign coworkers at CLAIR, and most of all from the feedback we receive from JET participants.

I currently work on a wide variety of projects, such as planning content for Post-Arrival Orientations and the CIR Mid-Year Conference, revising publications like the CIR Handbook, and directing workshops at ALT Skill Development Conferences. Last year, I was fortunate to work in cooperation with Kagawa Prefecture to welcome back Sophie Le Berre (CIR Kagawa-ken, 1995-97), one of the 12 JET Programme alumni who returned to their former places of work as part of CLAIR’s Satogaeri Project.

I am also part of the team in charge of the JET Programme Video Contest, which started in October last year. We have received lots of awesome submissions from current and former JET participants promoting their regions from their points of view. I am greatly impressed by the quality and creativity of the videos, which you can view and vote for on the contest’s website. I hope more and more JET participants will participate in this initiative, as these videos are helping tourists discover amazing areas of Japan they’ve never heard of. If you are interested in the contest and missed the deadline for the Autumn/Winter edition, don’t worry: from April 7, 2016, you can still participate in the Spring/Summer edition.

Read More


Jan 16

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 is private in Japan?

If I tell my co-workers I have hemorrhoids, diarrhea, or need to go to the OBGYN will they tell everyone else?

These may not be questions JETs think about when they first go to Japan. It also may not be something JETs consider when they are ill and trying to gain medical care or just discussing information (i.e., relationship status) about themselves with their co-workers.

The reality is Japanese cultural conceptions of privacy might be different than many JETs’ expectations. Depending upon how individualist or collectivist your home country is will influence how privacy is interpreted, expected, and maintained. The concept of “what is private” or “privacy” differs cross-culturally, as do the ways in which privacy values are expressed.

Japan is no exception.

Japan has been largely classified as a collectivistic culture. As you know from your own experiences in Japan, the group matters more than the individual. In other words, in Japan the “we” wants and goals come before the “I” or “me” wants and goals. For collectivists, the very notion of privacy might be viewed as selfish due to an individual’s wants and goals taking precedent over the group’s desires.

Ever notice that privacy is in katakana, the Japanese syllabary used for foreign words? Puraibashi, or プライバシー, is taken directly from the English word for “privacy.” Since traditional Japanese language has no word for privacy, a unique cultural conception of privacy emerged. For example, the idea that one has “the right to be left alone” might signal a lack of cooperativeness with the group and an inability to work well with others. Additionally, controlling one’s privacy information might be perceived as an excess of mistrust. Even Japanese scholars have commented that gaijin might perceive the group interdependence of Japanese people as “suffocating.”

Japanese language use two distinct, yet interrelated meanings of Japanese privacy: shakai ( 社会), or “public,” and seken (世間), or “world/society.” Such terms stress the importance of relationships, interdependence, and group harmony. Shakai contributes to negative aspects of crimes being withheld from the media in order to protect victims and their families. If one was to “break shakai” it would involve speaking publically about private matters which might harm another’s reputation. Seken emphasizes human relations and allows Japanese people the ability to “understand” or at least “explain” what went wrong in a given situation. To the foreign eye, this might look intrusive, or like “gossip,” as one tries to understand one’s home life or culture to explain a tragic event.

As JETs operate on differing values of privacy, this might result in individuals feeling “violated” or “exposed.” Perceived privacy violations can lead to relationship withdrawal, isolation, and negative assumptions/stereotypes about one’s co-worker or Japan in general. Throughout my research, gaijin English teachers reported feeling that their co-workers invaded/violated their privacy expectations. In other words, if they told someone something, it was then told to someone else, who then told someone else…etc. You get the point. In my research, gaijin felt victimized when people knew things about them that they didn’t disclose (i.e., So and so sensei told me you went to the doctor and are on X medication), even if it was something positive (i.e., I heard your dental checkup went well!). My participants felt like “celebrities” because “everyone (i.e., Japanese people)” in their communities knew “everything” about them.

Critics of my participants’ stories have said “Well, they should know it will be different from their home country.” It is easy to say “expect things to be different.” To what extent should this responsibility be shared? No recruiting organizations discuss privacy in their trainings. Perhaps privacy is something so engrained in one’s culture that it is perceived to be “common sense?” Perhaps that “common sense” is where the most difficulties exist when what one “commonly” thinks doesn’t work.

Regardless, this is a collective issue that requires further dialogue and research to better understand how to cultivate meaningful relationships. Several of my participants chose to cut their contracts short or to not renew because of their interpersonal privacy experiences.

That’s costly – it costs financially and personally.

This blog post is an adaptation of the scholarly article: Simmons, N. (2012). The tales of gaijin: Health privacy perspectives of foreign English teachers in Japan. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, 11, 17-38. Retrieved from http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/kaleidoscope/vol11/iss1/3/


Nov 19

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What do people do after JET? Here’s one great example.

On November 16, JETAA DC held the latest in their JET Talks series with a talk by JET alum George Rose (Fukushima-ken, 1989-91), former interpreter for Hideki Irabu and current Director of Pacific Rim Operations for the New York Yankees, not to mention former JETAA NY President.

Here’s a video of the talk. (Thanks to JETAA DC Vice-President Joy Young for passing this on!) Many great anecdotes including one about interpreting for Hideki Matsui on the Regis and Kathy Show. Plus, did you know that George played a role in helping the Yankees sign Masahiro Tanaka? Watch and enjoy!


Nov 3

jetaaoc2015

The JETAA Oceania Regional Conference took place in Christchurch, New Zealand this year, over the weekend of Oct 16th-18th. JETAA Oceania is a meeting of chapters from two countries, Australia (5) and New Zealand (3), as well as the respective country representatives. Australia’s Country Representative, Eden Law (ALT Fukushima 2010-2011) reports on the proceedings of the 2015 JETAA Oceania Conference.

As far as I know, the JETAA Oceania Regional Conference is unique in the JETAA world, where two countries share an annual convention – not surprising, considering the geographical proximity and historically close relations (buddies and often times frenemies) of Australia and New Zealand. This year’s theme is “Staying Connected” – to past and present JETs and JET community, local Japanese organisations and cultural groups, sister city initiatives and of course, with other chapters. Because it’s such a core issue to many chapters, we had a lot to say, discuss and share – opinions, ideas and examples that have work and didn’t. Some ideas:

  • Maintaining connections with new JETs by following up after a month to see how they are going. If you have a newsletter, ask for article contributions (e.g. “Best experience”, “Most surprising aspect”, “What I should have packed”). These can also be used as material for the next pre-departure orientation.
  • Have a committee retreat – have a mini conference by going away to a nice country location to discuss ideas, plan schedule etc.
  • Provide some kind of charity work opportunity to give a sense of purpose and satisfaction
  • Market JET Programme as a way to gain transitional skills (e.g. being bilingual means you can see things from different viewpoints)
  • Sell JET as a professional development program
  • For a fun fundraising idea, have a trivia night where answers/clues can be bought for a small fee. Cheat for charity!

This conference also marks my presentation debut as a shiny, newly minted country representative, which was also the same for my New Zealand equivalent, Raewyn MacGregor. Our presentations were about what we’d do as CRs, considering that the role tended to be re-invented to suit each new candidate’s needs and personality. Apart from trying to reduce the wheel-reinvention aspect by keeping records and procedure documentation, we will also aim to focus on community and communication. To that end, I put forward a proposal to have regular, scheduled Google Hangouts for Oceania to keep in touch and continue the flow of dialogue, ideas and support for each other (and if possible, get some participants from outside Oceania to join in!). We will also look at ways of supporting recent returnees, whether in the form of support, mentorship or career opportunities.

We also discussed the Satogaeri Project and the Tokyo November conference, where Satogaeri representatives from several countries (and AJET) will meet and discuss several ideas, such as next year’s 30th Anniversary celebratory plans, and, most interestingly of all, the possible revival of JETAA International (JETAAI). This chapter had gone dormant for the last few years since losing funding during austerity measures implemented by previous governments. For some of you out there, you may be aware of (or have participating in) the short bursts of email communications regarding this chapter. From the documentation presented by CLAIR at the conference, it’s now clear why this was occuring, as JETAAI’s revival looks fairly certain, with proposed committee members election to be held (presumably with those present). There are other further surprising items on the agenda regarding country representatives, so I’ll await the post-conference report with interest.

On a final note, it became clear that the common ingredient running through all successful ideas was networking – building and maintaining relationships which can be tapped into for opportunities. This does require work and commitment – as is the case with anything worthwhile. You can’t go at it half-arsed if you intend to make things a success, after all. Special thanks go to our great chapter hosts, New Zealand’s JETAA South Island, lead by president Caroline Pope (and NZ’s Satogaeri representative) who ran a very efficient and tight ship, which our visiting CLAIR official from Tokyo even remarked on, as being better organised than recent conferences that he had attended. High praise indeed!

The conference site is still up in the meantime. Check out all the pics and posts on Twitter and Facebook by searching for #jetaaoc.


Sep 13

A request for help with this project from JET alum Ryan McDonald (Fukushima-ken):

This is the 4th year we are trying to produce the “This Is Fukushima” calendar that we send to world leaders, media, and royalty. We’ve received thank you notes from President Jimmy Carter, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

  • We take donations and use the money to produce the calendar and then pay for most of the shipping, although for the past 3 calendars the people creating out went out of pocket over $1,000 each.
  • Here is a link to the current calendar in PDF form to see the style. Feel free to download it and print it out if you’d like. The actual calendars are professionally printed and look great.
  • This link is a write up (in Japanese) about myself and the other people producing it.
  • If you have any large photos of Fukushima please email us by October 31st this year. We prefer interesting places unique to Fukushima and not generic nature shots. We want people to say, “wow, I’d like to go see that.”

Photo criteria:

  • – must have been shot in Fukushima-ken. It doesn’t matter when (so yes, pre-2011 pics are fine).
  • – minimum 300dpi resolution (4000×3000 px) (or very close to it, but 72 dpi usually won’t work)
  • – horizontal format is preferred
  • Photos can be submitted via email to: ThisIsFukushima@gmail.com

Thanks in advance for your support!

—————————–
今日本語で :

愛する福島県の住民と以前住んでいた方へのメッセージ:

2016年の「This is Fukushima」カレンダーのために只今写真募集中!

写真の提出期限は10月31日までです。

募集する写真の基準:

〓 福島県内で撮られた写真。今年撮られた写真に限らず、もちろん2011年前に 撮られた写真でも構いません

〓 解像度の必要最小限は300dpi (4000x3000px)

〓 横向きの写真が望ましい

写真をメールで提出してください: ThisIsFukushima@gmail.com

よろしくお願いします!


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