Aug 19

New JETs join AJET in record numbers


This year, the JET Programme welcomed over 1700 new participants to its July-August Orientations at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. AJET’s presence at these orientations resulted in an unprecedented amount of new JET memberships. We spoke with Matthew Cook, (2011-2012 Chair) about his views on the services that AJET provides.

AJET Chair Matt Cook (Osaka, 2007-12) speaks at JET Orientation in Tokyo

What do you think contributed to the overwhelming amount of sign-ups at this year’s orientation?

Matt: Well, I think the re-brand had a great deal to do with it. When we were able to show that AJET is a tangible resource, an effective voice, and a community that JETs are actually a part of, it gave them a great incentive to sign up with us. Not to mention, all of the services we offer are FREE, and who doesn’t like free stuff?

CLAIR also gave me the opportunity to speak to the JET’s in the opening ceremonies, and I really wanted to take full advantage of that. I tried to make them understand that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. That they’re not alone. That we’re in this thing together, and we support each other…. and that’s what’s special about us compared to the other English teachers that are hired in Japan. I think that struck a chord with everyone, and hopefully, we’re going to see AJET and the support system we provide grow exponentially after this great start at TO Orientation.

How do you see AJET’s role changing this year?

Matt: From this year on, AJET is going to be much more accessible to JETs. The new website is easy to navigate, and we’ve got a new magazine and eBulletin that are focused and let JET’s know what’s new and happening every month. Social networking is at an all time high in the world. To match that, our Twitter and Facebook accounts are reaching out, connecting, and keeping JET’s in touch in ways through outlets they’ve never had access to before. For example, each block now has a Facebook group that connects local chapters not just to us, but to each other all across Japan. I’ve really been quite shocked at how much the average JET has been engaged and helped each other with these groups. It is fantastic to see how everyone is getting involved now that they have a platform through which to do it!

I think these groups are also going to allow us to get more participation in our bi-annual surveys, which in turn, will give MEXT and CLAIR a better idea of what JET’s need, and allow us to represent everyone more evenly across the board.

I also forsee this council forging a much stronger bond with JETAA in order to make the transition to “life after JET” easier for people who are on the program now. This close relationship will help us to stay connected and maintain a close fraternity with each other. Because we’ve all shared a common experience like none other, and what better way to revisit that than to get together with like-minded individuals to share those experiences, and find new ways to start ones?

Any upcoming projects to watch out for?

Matt: Overall, I think this year will be a springboard to the future! I’m so proud of our council and their hard work. I think they’ve set a standard for all the AJET councils of the future and we have nothing but the best to look forward to! I personally cannot wait to see what AJET accomplishes this year, and in the years to come!

We are so excited to publish our first issue of AJET Connect Magazine, coming this September. Also be on the look out for our iPhone app, due out later this year!


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