Nov 17

Since just before the 2011 National Conference in DC this past summer, a few of us (e.g., U.S. Country Reps Jessyca Wilcox and Mike Shu as well as myself) have been working on setting up a JETAA USA system to encourage JETAA chapters to connect with and engage with their sister city/ prefecture counterparts in Japan. We met with Sister Cities International prior to the start of the conference (SCI is HQ is based in DC) to see how we might get this put together and how we can have a symbiotic relationship.

We established that some of the key needs of U.S. sister cities are the ability to communicate in Japanese and familiarity with and ability to navigate the Japanese culture, which are key ingredients for helping to grow, re-inspire, or create those relationships. This, as you are likely well aware, is the exact skill set we, as JET alumni, possess.

While JETAA has not yet established any formal relationship yet with SCI, JETAA is very much looking forward to working with them more closely in the future.  But in the meantime, JETAA has begun to lay necessary groundwork to enable the JET alumni network and community to begin providing support when ready.

This has now been created in the form of the JETAA USA Sister Cities/ States JET Initiative (thanks to a lot of behind the scenes work by Jessyca Wilcox). Click the link  (or read further down) for more background about this project and the tools that will enable JETAA chapters to get started. Simply connecting your JETAA chapter with your Japanese counterpart is valuable in and of itself! It demonstrates to local governments in Japan one more way that the JET alumni community is eager to provide “Return on JET-vestment” to our adopted home country.

“JET Sister Cities Initiative is Ready to Roll!”

The primary goal of this project is to help local JETAA chapters connect and coordinate with their Japanese sister cities/prefectures to grow those relationships and bring value to our counterparts in Japan.

As part of the effort to create stronger ties between JET alumni and their communities in Japan and to enhance the value of the JET Program to its users there, we have established the Sister City Initiative. JETAA USA is working with Sister Cities International to strengthen our partnership and effectiveness. This system can also be applied to visits and activities between the two entities (not only sister city type relationships).

JET alums possess many of the skills (language, cultural navigation, professional acumen etc.) that are needed to support and grow these cross-cultural community relationships. Local Japanese governments are interested in developing and maintaining communications with JET alumni and cooperating on projects which benefit or promote their Japanese communities. The Sister City Initiative gives local governments tangible connections with JETs after they depart Japan and provides return on investment for the JET Program. JETAA USA is in a position where we can create high impact results through some targeted work.

Get Started:

1. Identify your chapter’s sister cities/states:

  • JETAA USA/ Sister States– US Country Reps created this database which lists US JETAA chapters and their Japanese sister prefecture counterparts.
  • Sister City Directory– This is managed by Sister Cities International and is a more comprehensive list of US- Japan relationships.

2. Initiate contact:

  • Contact Request Form– This internal request gets submitted to CLAIR NY and US CRs who will start the process of connecting the JETAA chapter and appropriate Japanese counterpart.

3. Establish relationships and communication channels:

  • Offer your JETAA chapter as a resource. The opportunity for projects and connections is as varied as each sister city/prefecture relationship. Simply making your JETAA community available is valuable in and of itself as it acknowledges and offers our community to the local governments in a way we have not done before.
  • Advertise any projects/connections that come out of these efforts. Put them on your websites and inform the CRs, so we can promote them on the national website as well as with CLAIR and local governments in Japan.

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