Aug 19

UPDATE: JETAA NY Career Panel: The State of ESL and Language Education in Japan and the US


Update #1:  We’re pleased to announce the addition to the panel of Matthew Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12), former AJET Chair and now advisor to the Osaka Board of Education’s Native English Teacher (NET) Program.

Update #2:  We are planning on webcasting the event through my YouTube channel (  Go to that link at 6:30 pm (NY time) to watch live (and post comments and questions).  Or, go there any other time to watch the recording.  (Apologies in advance for any technical difficulties.  This will be my first time trying a webcast using Google+ and YouTube.)

JETAA NY Career Panel:  The State of ESL and Language Education in Japan and the US 

  • WHEN:  Tuesday, Aug 28, 6:30pm-8:30pm
  • WHERE:  Japan Local Government Center office, 3 Park Ave., 20th Floor
  • RSVP  on JETAANY Facebook Event page, or by email to professional [at]

This JETAANY Career panel will consist of a presentation by JET alum James Rogers, Assistant Professor at Kansai Gaidai, followed by Q&A with James and a panel of JET alum language teachers, including former AJET Chair and now .

Presentation: The State of Language Education in Japan: Job Opportunities and Living in 21st Century Japan

This presentation will discuss various issues regarding working in the language industry in Japan. University work and the conditions and benefits of various levels of such positions, agent out-sourced jobs, union membership, the value of higher degrees and certificates, Japanese language skills, the nuclear crisis and the safety of living in certain areas, and the value of scholarly research will be discussed. The information presented at this event should be beneficial to JET alumni who are considering moving back to Japan and up in their career to the university level, and also those who have some university experience but are interested in learning more about what is needed to be successful at that level. Read More

Jul 1

JQ Magazine: In Texas, Metroplex Lolitas Paint the Town

Photo shoot by Anvil Photography.

By Jen Wang (Miyagi-ken, 2008-09) for JQ magazine. Jen is a research technician from Dallas who also writes for Purple SKY, a Japanese music website. Her love of cosplay and her junior high school students inspired the name for her own Japanese pop culture blog, Hibari-sensei’s Classroom.

The Japanese fashion subculture Lolita is based on Victorian and Rococo aesthetics. Its trademark look consists of a blouse, a knee-length skirt or jumper, a petticoat, stockings, and Mary Janes or platform shoes. Since its inception in the 1970s, Lolita has developed several sub-styles: gothic, sweet, classic, punk and more. There is also a mature variation known as aristocrat and a masculine equivalent known as ouji.

Although I had been interested in Lolita since college, I didn’t really start compiling a Lolita wardrobe until I was a JET. It was easier to figure out what styles worked when you could try on the clothes. I visited the seventh floor of Sendai Forusthe location of punk, gothic and Lolita stores—so frequently that the shopkeepers started to recognize me. The budding fashionista in me missed the shopping trips and opportunities to dress up once I returned to the U.S. Then I discovered the Metroplex Lolita LiveJournal group.

The Metroplex Lolitas are a group of from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Prior to their creation in January 2010, several of the girls had been arranging meet-ups through another group, Texas Lolis. They decided to branch off to encourage more conversation and gatherings.

My first meet-up was in March 2010. We went to watch Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and sat down for tea and a gift-exchange afterwards. The Metroplex Lolitas meet around once a month to enjoy a meal—true to our Victorian influences, we do love tea and pastries—or an activity, which can be anything from a trip to the museum to ice skating. The Texas heat has never deterred us from getting together in our layers of frills since many members have come up with more summer-friendly outfits.  We also host meet-ups with out-of-town Lolitas at anime conventions.

Read More

Feb 28

JET Alumni Freelancers Career Panel (NYC)

Originally posted to the JETAANY website:

Are you freelancing?  Thinking about freelancing? Want to meet and hear from other JET alum freelancers? Then join us for the first ever JET Alum Freelancers Career Panel! We know it’s a tough economy out there, and many of us are now freelancing, whether by design or involuntarily. It’s high time to get together, talk about it, learn from each other and help each other out.

When:  Monday, March 5, 6:30pm – 8:00 pm
Where: Japan Local Government Center (aka CLAIR NY) – 3 Park Avenue, 20th Floor (34th & Park, entrance on southeast corner)
RSVP to:  Steven Horowitz – stevenwaseda [at] (Please feel free to tell me a little more about yourself, your situation, and what you might be looking for.)

Note: Drinks and light snacks will be provided. (But feel free to bring your own food and to eat during the panel)

The Panel:

1. Kirsten Henning (Hyogo-ken, 1999-2002) – Communications/Public Affairs Consultant (previously served as Japanese press liaison for the Seattle Mariners and Major League Baseball)
2. Paul Benson (Fukui-ken, 2006-08) – Freelance Translator/Writer
3. Justin Tedaldi (Kobe-shi, 2001-02) – Freelance entertainment and Japanese culture writer, and JQ Magazine Editor (
4. Matt Leichter (Saitama-ken, 2003-05) – Legal Writer and Blogger (writes for Am Law Daily and writes The Law School Tuition Bubble blog; ghost blogs for several law firms) (
5. Marea Pariser (Kagoshima-ken, 2003-04) – Freelance ESL Instructor (private lessons + multiple language schools; former NHK assistant producer)
6. Janice Momoko Chow (Prefecture, Years) – Freelance fashion writer and market researcher (
7. Kia Samaniego (Aichi-ken, 1996-99) – Freelance translator, writer, interpreter (former assistant director at the Donald Keene Center at Columbia University)
8. Philip Schnell (Ehime-ken, 1998–2001) – Freelance translator

Moderator: Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-94) – Steven is the founder of the Writers Interpreters Translators (WIT) Group that evolved in JETwit. In addition to being a full-time grant writer, he is also does freelance writing for law firms, has done work for the Ford Foundation, and is the creator of the Bankruptcy Bill cartoon series. (

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Feb 9

The Best Prefectures: By JET Alum LinkedIn Groups – Update 02.09.12

You may recall last year (02.21.11 to be exact), JETwit revealed the “Best Prefectures” based on how many members each LinkedIn JET Alum prefecture group had.  With a little help from JETwit’s friends, we’ve updated the  numbers, and they now total 787 total members.

Shimane-ken continues to kick prefectural oshiri in a big way.  Not sure what’s holding back JET and JET alums from other prefectures.  But all you have to do to join your prefecture LinkedIn group is to click here and find your prefecture.  A great way to not only stay connected with your community, but also to provide Return On JET-vestment at the local level.  (Click here for more explanation about why this helps “save” JET.  And click here for a list of JET alum LinkedIn groups by profession.)

The Top JET LinkedIn Prefecture Groups
(last year’s numbers in parentheses)

1.  Shimane – 69 (44)

2.  Fukushima JET Alumni – 38 (14)

2.  Hokkaido – 38 (16)

4.  Fukui JET Alumni – 32 (11)

4.  Hyogo JET Alumni – 32 (12)

4.  Niigata JET Alumni – 32 (16)


Overall Ranking of JET Alum LinkedIn Groups by Prefecture

(in alphabetical order; last year’s numbers in parentheses) Read More

Dec 19

New LinkedIn Group: JET Alumni Working in TESOL

Thanks to Osaka-based JET alum Joshua Flannery for setting up the JET Alumni Working in TESOL, a subgroup of JETAA Education Professionals.

Click this link to join:*2

Click here to see all JET Alum Linkedin groups, both prefectural and professional.





Nov 15

JET Alumni Parents Facebook group

Update:  This is now a “group.”  I originally set it up as a “page” but realized that’s not the way to go.  Apologies for any inconvenience.

Are you a JET or JET alum and a parent?  Or planning on being a parent?  Then here’s a new JET alumni group for you:

JET Alumni Parents Facebook group:

Yes, enough of us have reached that stage in our lives where it makes sense to set this up.  So join the group, meet other JET alum parents, share stories and photos, and maybe even set up exchanges across countries where we swap our kids for a week or two! :-)


Nov 15

New Facebook group for Brooklyn JET Alumni

Update:  I originally set this up as a FB “page” but have now more wisely switched it to a “group.”  So make sure to sign up for the “group.”

For anyone who’s interested, I’ve set up the Brooklyn JET Alumni group on Facebook for JET alumni who live in Brooklyn, are from Brooklyn or are just interested in Brooklyn.

Here’s the link:

I’ve had an informal email list for a few years, since I live in Brooklyn.  And it was just time to turn it into a Facebook page.  It’s not an official chapter or sub-chapter.  Just an informal group for the convenience of those of us living in Brooklyn-cho.

BTW, if anyone wants to come up with a better graphic, please feel free to make one and send it to me at jetwit [at]

Nov 13


JETAANY held its annual Career Forum/Welcome Back Reception on Saturday at the Nippon Club in NYC.  And in addition to the usual combination of useful advice, networking, natsukashii talk and reconnecting in general, this year’s Welcome Back Reception was notable for one other reason:  It was attended by approximately 25 participants in Japan’s new Japan-U.S. Training Training and Exchange Program for English Language Teachers (JUSTE) program, sometimes referred to as the “Reverse JET” program.

The program selected 96 Japanese teachers of English to spend 6 months in the U.S. studying ESL teaching methodology–in English–at 6 different universities across the U.S.:  Rutgers University (NJ), University of Delaware, University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Iowa, UC Irvine and UC Davis.  The teachers are in turn supposed to bring back their learning and share it with their respective school systems as part of an effort to improve English ability of Japanese students.

The Reverse JETs attending on Saturday came up from Rutgers and the University of Delaware.  It was a terrific opportunity to get to know them and learn more about the program.  Following a brief intro by all of the returning JETs, the Reverse JETs were asked to do the same.  And as they said their names and prefectures, there was an almost instant connection as JET alums from various prefectures cheered when the Reverse JETs called out their own home prefecture.

It was also apparent that these were top rate teachers–the really genki, creative and engaged teachers you remember from your JET days.  (We all were fortunate to have had at least one of these if not more.)  This was made rather apparent when the Delaware contingency decided to forego the traditional introduction style and instead go with a teaching game they had all learned in class the day before.  (See video below.)

Throughout the reception and the nijikai at Faces & Names, JET alumni found the Reverse JETs extremely friendly and easy to talk to.  And it was interesting to hear about their situations and the parallels with our own first time experiences in Japan.  For example:

  • While the Rutgers participants are all living on campus in a dormitory for foreign students, the Delaware participants are all living with homestay families and generally need to rely on them for transportation to and from the campus (as they’re not permitted to drive while in the U.S.)
  • Most participants were surprised to have been selected for the program.  That’s because most of them hadn’t even known of the program’s existence until their principals called them into their offices and asked them if they’d like to go to the U.S. for 6 months.  In same cases, participants only had hours to contact their spouse and decide whether to say yes.  Though in everyone’s eyes, this was too good an opportunity to pass up, not to mention a terrific honor.  They realized they had been 1 of 96 selected out of a total pool of 50,000 English teachers in Japan.  It sounds like each prefecture is permitted to select a few school systems, and then the Board of Ed in those school systems chooses the teacher.  Interestingly, some schools apparently passed on the opportunity because they didn’t feel they could afford to be without one of their top teachers for 6 months.  And in some prefectures, the selection process is different and teachers can actually apply to be a participant.
  • The teachers seemed to be aware of the costs involved in sending them to the U.S. and expressed a strong sense of obligation to study hard and share their learning upon return.  Though one confessed to worrying about maintaining a delicate balance of sharing knowledge while also not wanting to be the nail that sticks up.
  • And perhaps most interesting of all, in talking with one of the participants from Aichi (my JET prefecture), I learned that she grew up in Inuyama City and had JET alum and Inuyama City Council Member Anthony Bianchi (Aichi-ken, Inuyama-shi, 1988-89) as her ALT when she was a student!  Now that’s full circle.  (If anyone knows a good Japanese kotowaza for that idea, please share.)

Hopefully, the Reverse JETs through the U.S. will be able to find JET alumni in their area.  And it would be really terrific if JETAA chapters as well as the JET alumni community in general could do its best to reach out to the participants wherever they are.  They truly appreciate getting to spend time with the New York JET alumni on Saturday.  Imagine how great it must feel to be from Tottori-ken and find an American who is also familiar with Tottori.

Unfortunately, they’re only here through January.  So now is the time to reach out.  In addition to meeting some great people, you’ll also be helping to support a very unique Japanese education program that we hope will continue in the future and grow to meet the English learning needs of Japan’s society.

Nov 9

Jewpanese – Where Jewish and Japanese converge

For any Jewish and Jewpanese JETs and alums out there, you may be interested in the Jewpanese  Facebook group started by my friend Paul Golin, who serves as Associate Director for the Jewish Outreach Institute and whose wife happens to be Japanese (and an active member of NY de Volunteer!)

Here’s the link to Jewpanese – Where Jewish and Japanese converge“:

Nov 3

JETAA Chicago Job and Networking Fair – Saturday Nov 5

Thanks to JETAA Chicago’s Elizabeth Gordon (Iwate-ken 2003-05) for sharing this info:

JETAA Chicago will host its annual Job and Networking Fair on Saturday, November 5th from 1pm to 5pm at the Japan Information Center in downtown Chicago.

This is a great opportunity for JETs that have recently returned from Japan, current JET Alumni, friends of JETs as well as professionals looking for new networking and career opportunities.

A lot of JETs return from Japan looking for ways to maintain and even build upon the experiences they made while living abroad and we hope to provide support in helping you reach those goals. This is also a wonderful opportunity for individuals that are interested in pursuing a new career and would like some guidance from current Alumni or other established professionals.

There will be an open table top session with booths from various Chicagoland companies and organizations as well as a wine and cheese reception. We are also planning on having a speaker to kick off the event so please stay tuned as there will be more specific information to follow!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email our Social Activities Officer, Daniel Martin:

Location: Consulate General of Japan at Chicago (JIC – Japan Information Center), 737. North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL (map it)

Oct 26

New LinkedIn group for JET Alum International Education and Exchange Careers

JET alum Carolyn Brooks has set up a new Linkedin group for JETs, alums and Friends of JET working in or interested in the field of international education and exchange (a popular career path for many JET alumni).

Here’s the link to join:

Also here’s a link to the full list of JET Alum professional and prefecture LinkedIn groups out there.  And a reminder that if you don’t see one that fits, start your own and we’ll post it here on JETwit.

Oct 14


It’s official. Soumusho (Ministry of Internal Affairs) sees great value in the JET alumni community being organized and identifiable by prefecture and would like to see such groups formed and put to better use. This according to an announcement that came through the official bureaucratic news source (iJAMP). (See very unofficial translation summary below.)

Why do they care so much about this idea? Because the local governments (i.e., the prefectures) need to see the long term benefits of JET to really make it worth it for them to continue to hire JETs and to contribute funding and resources to the program. They need to see that JET alumni are supporting and contributing to longer term economic benefits in various ways. This is the concept of Local Return on JET-vestment.

Fortunately, JET alum groups by prefecture have existed for the past year thanks to LinkedIn. And many have already joined. If you have not joined one yet, I strongly encourage you to do so now. (It also couldn’t hurt to join any of the various professional JET alum LinkedIn groups as well. Or start a new one yourself if you see a field not covered.)

Here’s the unofficial translation summaries of the official communication:

Soumusho has called on the prefectures to promote the creation of JET OB networks as a resource in their internationalization and overseas business initiatives.

To encourage this, Soumusho is allowing prefectures from this year to fund travel and other expenses for alumni out of their local allocation tax revenues, and is asking prefectures to work with municipal governments.

It is further hoped that these alumni will be a source of accurate information on Japan. And there have been many instances where alumni have gotten involved in fundraising and other support for the affected areas through their deep connections to their communities in Japan.

While there have been many groups formed by alumni according to their countries of origin, schools they taught at or years on the Program, there are few instances of groups formed by prefecture and it is difficult to really say that alumni are a resource to these areas. The importance of prefecture alumni groups was pointed out at the 25th anniversary symposium, leading to the call to form prefecture-level networks.

The notice mentioned Tottori as a good example of a prefecture making the best use of its JETs, having its CIRs act as “Tottori Hometown Ambassadors”, submitting policy proposals and contributing articles to its informational magazine. It also uses its “World Tottori Fan Club” to send out information to its ALT alumni.


Oct 4


Thanks to JETAA Music City President (and Arkansas Cherry Blossom PrincessTerry Vo (Kumamoto-ken, 2007-09for the heads up:

Join us for a Japanese-Style Potluck on October 4, 2011. Come mingle, eat, drink, and be merry! This event is open to our Friends of JET Alum as well so please feel free to invite your family and friends! Please bring either your favorite Dish, Dessert or Beverage!

RSVP DEADLINE: September 30 to Leah

Location: 1812 Cahal Avenue, Nashville TN 37206″

Sep 27

New version of LinkedIn group for Monbusho English Fellows (MEFs) and other pre-JETs

A few months ago I set up a LinkedIn group for Monbusho English Fellows (MEFs) and other pre-JETs such as British English Teachers (BETs).  However, it turns out that an MEF named Thomas Schalow, now a professor living in Kobe, had already set up an MEF group on Linkedin.

Here’s the link for anyone who would like to join:


I believe there are a few hundred or so MEFs in existence and would love to track you guys down and bring you into the JET alum orbit to the extent possible.  So if you are an MEF or BET or other pre-JET, please identify yourself by joining the group.

FYI, two prominent MEFs I’m aware of are Michael Green, former top Japan guy at the State Department during the Bush administration and Bruce Rutledge, founder of Seattle-based Chin Music Press.

Aug 22

Happy time in a happi coat. (Rashaad Jorden)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-2010) for JQ magazine. Rashaad worked at four elementary schools and three junior high schools on JET, and taught a weekly conversion class in Haguro (his village) to adults. He completed the Tokyo Marathon in 2010, and was also a member of a taiko group in Haguro.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Those two sentences are a lot more than the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities. The former could best describe my time in the JET Program (with a couple of exceptions), while the latter is an accurate description of my post-JET time.

I was disappointed and sad to leave Yamagata Prefecture last year, but the old saying “when one door closes, another one opens” came to my mind. As much as I enjoyed Japan, I was eager to launch my new life in the U.S.

Since I had talked myself out of grad school for the time being, I figured I ought to put something worthwhile on my resume before commencing the serious job hunt. As my resume included mostly teaching English abroad (France and Japan), I figured I might as well do something related to what I eventually want to do: something editorial related.

Currently, I am seeking an editorial assistant/copy editor/proofreading position. But I would also open to working for cultural exchange programs and in positions that utilize French ability (I am fluent in the language due to having and worked in France).

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