2009 JETAA Canada National Conference Keynote Speech

JETAA Canada National Conference
Keynote Speech – May 30, 2009 – Toronto
By Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94)


Minasan, Ohayo gozaimasu.

1.  First, I’d like to thank JETAA Canada and Gloria Ma and everyone else involved with this conference for inviting me here to speak today.  As an American, I have to say being invited to be the keynote speaker for the JETAA Canada National Conference is a tremendous honour (and I mean that spelled with a “u”).

2.  Also, I’ve known Gloria for a little while now through the Newsletter connection, and since she recently became the JETAA Canada Country Rep, I wanted to bring her a little something.  But it didn’t arrive in time, so I’ll have to send it up after I get back to New York.  [T-SHIRT]

3.  Now interestingly, when I started on JET in 1992, my town of Kariya City, Aichi-ken, exactly 17 minutes by express train outside Nagoya, it turned out that I was in the Japanese sister city of Missassauga. So in a certain way, being here today has a wonderful sense of things coming full circle and feeling connected.

4.  On the theme of connectedness, I think one of the great things about helping our alumni feel connected to JETAA is, we don’t really have to force it.  Because most people on JET had a good experience overall, an experience that becomes part of who we are.

5.  Focusing in on this idea a little more, I realized that people in my non-JET world (e.g., my office, my family, my friends) like to refer to me as a “Japan Guy,” or “that guy who’s into Japan.” However, I actually don’t see myself that way.

  • I’m not fluent in Japanese.
  • I’m not a literature or culture or food expert.
  • I’m not into manga or anime.
  • I’ve never worked for a Japanese company.

6.  And I finally realized, it’s not that I’m into Japan.  It’s that Japan is part of me.  I lived there for 3.5 very formative years.  It’s part of who I am.  And what I really like, is being able to connect with other people who shared a similar experience.

7.  I focus on this because I think that feeling might be JETAA’s greatest asset.  The shared experience is the glue that holds all of this together.  And the idea of the shared experience is something to keep coming back to.  Especially when we come up with ideas and organize events and publish newsletters and think about what’s going to draw people into the JET alumni community.

Lesson Plan

8.  Bearing that in mind, my “lesson plan” for today is to talk about my path to this point in connection with the JETAA NY Newsletter, the Writers Interpreters Translators (WIT) Group and the JetWit website.  In talking about these topics, I’ll try to share some of the approaches to communications and getting people to feel connected that I’ve used.  And hopefully I’ll do it in a way that stimulates and provokes some new ideas and gets you even more excited about helping the JET alumni community to continue to grow, both at the local level and also in terms of cross-chapter collaboration.

9.  JETAA is now about 22 years old.  We’re just hitting our stride as an alumni organization.  And that means, in my view, that we’re on the cusp of some very significant growth.

10.  To get the ball rolling, here are a few numbers to give a sense of what we’re dealing with, with special thanks to Taichi Hanzawa of CLAIR NY for providing the official data:

  • 50,000+ JET alums worldwide, 51 chapters worldwide
  • Over 3,000 JET alums in Canada, 7 chapters
  • About 25,000 JET alums in the US, 19 chapters

11.  That’s a lot of people.  And with 5K JETs in Japan every year and some portion leaving each year, the JET alum ranks continue to grow.

12.  Where are most JET alums now?  What are they doing?  How many have you met?  Where do you and I fit in compared to them?

13.  We don’t necessarily know.  Most JET alums are not on our radar screen.  I remember hearing in 2005 that about half of US JET alums are affiliated with a chapter.  And of those, most of them are not  attending events or necessarily even reading the emails.  Though clearly some percentage is.

14.  As far as I’m aware, there’s no ongoing, aggregate list of JETs that’s publicly accessible.  And even the records kept by the Japanese government, which is protected by privacy laws, likely has little information about what people have done after leaving JET.

15.  This idea, this lack of an aggregate list showing where people are and what they’ve been doing, is part of what’s been driving me to get so involved.

16.  B/c the fact that we don’t know, from my perspective, is a good thing.  It means there’s a huge opportunity, and a huge amount of untapped potential.

17.  For example, there are now plenty of established and even famous JET alums out there.  And I keep learning of more every day.

  1. Bruce Feiler, author of Learning to Bow the original JET book, along with a number of other best sellers.
  2. Will Ferguson–A Canadian and author of Hokkaido Highway Blues (Hitching Rides with the Buddha), How to Be a Canadian, Canadian History for Dummies (which I should perhaps purchase), The Girlfriend’s Guide to Hockey (which I should also perhaps purchase) and many other humorous books and novels.  And just to give you a sense of where he is in his career, I discovered that the only way to get in touch with him is through his agent.
  3. Suzanne Kamata – still living in Japan, she is the author of the novel Losing Kei, the editor of an essay collection on multi-cultural mothering called “Call Me Okaasan” and is the editor of the website Literary Mama as well as the publicity person for the Tokyo Chapter of the Society of Children’s Books.
  4. Rob Weston – Toronto resident and author of Zorgamazoo, a wonderful rhyming novel–yes, a rhyming novel–for young adults and children.  And I had the chance to meet him when he came to the JET Alumni Author Showcase on March 22 (More on Rob later).
  5. Roland Kelts – Perhaps the preminent authority on Japanese pop culture today, and the author of Japanamerica and now a professor at Tokyo University.  Roland is a media regular and frequently called on to host talks with people like Haruki Murakami and Hayao Miyazaki.  In fact, at the end of July he’s hosting a talk with Miyazaki when Miyazaki comes to the US to receive a lifetime achievement award at UC Berkeley.
  6. Anthony Bianchi – City Council Member in Inuyama City, Aichi-ken.  Anthony is originally from Brooklyn and is the first ever North American to hold an elected office in Japan.
  7. John Gauntner – Leading non-Japanese sake expert in the world, known as “The Sake Guy”, and has several books published on the topic.
  8. ***************************************************************************
  9. **************************************************************
  10. **************************************************************
  12. George Rose – former JETAA NY President, interpreter for Hideki Irabu and also a bit for Hideki Matsui, and now Director of Tokyo Operations for the NY Yankees
  13. Michael Auslin – Director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, former Professor of Japanese History at Yale, and was a guest judge for one episode of Iron Chef America that I happened to catch b/c my wife is a big fan.  Morimoto was the Iron Chef for that episode, for the record.
  14. James Kennedy, author of The Order of Odd-Fish, a fantasy adventure book for young adults that’s doing well.  If you only read one book this year, young adult or otherwise, read this one.  All I can say is that you’ll be glad you did.
  15. Karl Taro Greenfeld – famed journalist and author of Speed Tribes:  Days and Nights with Japan’s Next Generation.
  16. Maynard Plant – One of founding members of the Japanese band Monkey Majik, and a Canadian who was in Aomori on JET.
  17. Even someone like Bruce Rutledge – Monbusho Fellow pre-JET – founder of the publishing company of Chin Music Press in Seattle, known for its Japan-oriented books such as “Tokyo Art Space” and focus on unique cover art.

18.  And these are just a few of the celebrity-type alums I know about since I’ve focused more on writing, interpreting and translating.

[VISUAL – show Authors page on JetWit]

19.  For example, for a more complete list of authors, you can go to the Authors Section in the JetWit Library.

20.  This is a tremendous asset for JETAA.  Something for us, and for CLAIR and MOFA, to point to and show off the fruits of the JET Program and raise the profile of the JET alumni community.  Something that makes JETAA a more attractive organization to be connected to.

21.  But it’s also important to remember that there’s a whole new crop of people that will be emerging from the JETAA-sphere.  We don’t know who they are yet, but there will be more famous writers, entertainers, academics, translators, and, who knows, someday perhaps the first ever JET alum Prime Minister or President?  Can we really do this?  “Yessu u-ii kannu.” :-)

22.  As a result, one of our goals as JETAA members and representatives should be to get people to self-identify, to encourage them to view themselves as JET alums and to give them various ways to connect and to feel connected.

23.  So that’s the RAH-RAH part of my speech.


24.  Now I’ll go over my background as a way to get into some examples of approaches I’ve used to communicate with the JET alum community, help people feel connected and get people to self-identify.

25.  What I’m going to hopefully demonstrate is a bottom-up approach for making some things happen.  Also, that, while it requires a certain amount of working together and coordination, my approach (which is far from the only approach) has also been to come up with activities for which I didn’t need to rely on other people to provide approvals or to help me move it forward.  This doesn’t work for every situation, but it does work in a lot of situations.

26.  A good example is the recent Learning to Blog Workshop series that I started in NY. I thought it would be helpful and a good career skill for JET alums to learn how to set up and use a blog since it’s a very powerful communication tool and it’s been a really useful skill that I learned from JETAA NY webmaster, Lee-Sean Huang.

27.  Rather than wait for one of our monthly meetings and say I have this idea and what does everyone think about it and how should we get it done, I just mentioned it to our President in an email so she was aware of it, and then put a short announcement together where I asked people to contact me if they’re interested in learning the basics of blogging.  I asked our Secretary to include it in the weekly email announcement.  And after I got responses, I set up a date and a location at a cafe for whoever can make it.  I’ve done 3 sessions so far, each time with 5 or 6 people, and I have another one coming up next week.  Our officers and the Consulate are really happy with it, and I’m not taking up anyone’s time worrying about logistics and organizing.

28.  It’s just one more entry point for alums to get connected to JETAA and one more way to help out alumni.  As well as a way to increase the number of JET alums who can contribute to the JETAA NY and JetWit websites.

Motivation & Structure

29.  Stepping back from this example, two of the themes that come up in this and in other efforts and activities that I’ve tried to implement have been “motivation” and “structure”:  as in,

  • what’s going to motivate someone to get involved?
  • And what structure will facilitate their getting involved and contributing?

30.  Because the bottom line is that you get a lot more involvement and contribution if you provide motivation and structure.  I learned early on that if I send out a request and don’t get a good response, the responsibility is on me to either re-think the idea, i.e., does substantive motivation for the idea actually exist, or modify the way I’m communicating, i.e., is there a better way to structure it or phrase the request?

31.  In the back of their minds, people are always thinking:  How will this benefit me?  And, what’s required of me to contribute?  But people are also busy and focused on a million other things, so if you can provide motivation and structure for them, you remove barriers that enable more to happen.  Those are two things of value that each of us can always provide for our members and that will inure to the benefit of JETAA.

32.  As the Newsletter editor, the main way I was able to provide structure was by coming up with themes for each issue and ideas for articles.

33.  For example:  One idea I came up with was the “Issues” Issue, featuring a large front page article on “The Asian Fetish:  The Unspoken Subtext of the JET Program.”  The article itself was so-so.  I was really more interested in just having a juicy headline to get people’s attention so that they’d get in the habit of reading the Newsletter where there was plenty of other good writing on the “Issues” topic.

34.  Now while a theme and an article idea are one level of structure, what I quickly figured out–and I’m sure Gloria and other newsletter editors can relate to this–is that there’s another level of structure that’s often needed to get people to take time to actually contribute and write.

35.  Sure, there are some people who will always write a film or book review, and they just need to be encouraged and given a forum for doing their thing.

36.  But to really get more people involved and writing, I realized I had to create structures that made it even easier for people to contribute.

37.  A really successful idea in this regard was the BLURB or ANECDOTE article approach.  It’s nothing new.  I think it hit me after seeing an issue of Cosmo Magazine.  And I sort of borrowed the idea in much the same way that the Japanese borrowed the Chinese writing system. :-)

38.  For a BLURB article, I would just pick a theme, such as religion, and ask people to email me a short blurb about an experience they had on JET that related to religion.  Did you go to a church?  Get approached by a cult?  Go through some ordeal to obtain a box of matzah?

39.  Blurb articles were great on so many levels.  They really flushed out a lot of great stories that people had to tell and made for wonderful reading.  They gave people who weren’t otherwise involved with JETAA an easy way to come out of the woodwork and contribute.  They diversified my risk as editor, since I didn’t have to rely on one person to come through with an article (or not come through, as sometimes would be the case).  They really make good use of the strength of the JET alumni community.

40.  And they provided a vehicle for increased cross-chapter collaboration.  I could take the same request that I was sending out to JETAA NY and send it out to other chapters and ask them to forward it on to their members.  As a result, I started getting more responses from alums in other places.  Especially Seattle since Liz Sharpe, the newsletter editor out there, was very genki and into working together.  And of course alumni in other chapters started reading the JETAA NY Newsletter.

41.  To aide my efforts, I set up a yahoogroup for newsletter editors.  It’s dormant now and the role has been subsumed by the WIT Group in many ways.  But for a while it was active and a nice way to gather some of the other active newsletter editors together to share info, let each other know when a new issue of our respective newsletters were published, and rely on each other to generate more contributions as well.

42.  By the way, in recent years I learned two terms– “crowd sourcing” and “community generated content”–that essentially describe what I was doing or trying to do.  JETAA is set up very well for crowd sourcing and producing community generated content.  Because it’s a large group of people who all share a very unique experience and like comparing and contrasting our experiences.

43.  It’s all just a matter of creating structures for people to plug into.  The Newsletter.  A yahoogroup.  A theme for short anecdotes.

Fostering Cross-chapter Collaboration
44.  On the topic of cross-chapter collaboration, a really simple step I took and that you can do too, is to just sign up for the email group lists for other chapters.

45.  You don’t have to read the whole thing every time.  Just in skimming the emails that come in, you’ll notice things, pick up on patterns and differences, and certain things will grab your attention and give you ideas.  Even just noticing the varying frequency of emails by each chapter is revealing.

[Show JETAA Chapter Beat]

46.  It was doing this that led me to the idea of having a “JETAA Chapter Beat” feature on JetWit.  I’ve gotten a JET alum freelance writer named Jonathan Trace now looks at all the chapter emails and pulls a few interesting items together each week and posts it on JetWit.  It gives a nice overview of what’s going on in the JET alumni community.

47.  I find that getting the emails is also nice b/c it just gives you a periodic reminder that you’re part of a bigger community.


48.  This idea of wanting to feel like part of a bigger community actually ties in with the topic of motivation.  My thing is, I’m always trying to get people to contribute for free, without paying them.  So they need to have an incentive, and I need to understand what motivates them.  In some instances, people want to write, they just need a place to do it, a bit of structure, a deadline.

49.  Other people need something else, though, often in a form where you match up something that will motivate them, such a path to a job, with something you need, such as original writing.

50.  For example, with JetWit, I’ve focused a lot on helping people with their careers.  One example is Julie Matysik.  She had just moved to NY with her husband last year and was looking for a job in publishing.  I thought it would be interesting to JET alums for her to write short posts about her job search experience.  I  suggested it would be a good way for her to get her name out.  We called it “Editorial Pursuits,” she wrote 2 good posts about her job search experience, and within a week was contacted by another JET alum who worked in publishing.  She ended up getting an unpaid internship out of it, and eventually it led to a job.  Of course, then she didn’t have time to write posts anymore.  But I was happy that it actually helped her move forward with her career.  And readers really loved it.  And it’s a great example of using the JET alumni network to help each other.

51.  So that’s an example of providing a motivation and structure for someone in a way that creates a mutually beneficial result.

52.  Of course, I should add that for every person who ends up writing, there might be 5 or 10 people with whom I discuss an idea and suggest a structure and options and nothing comes of it.  That’s just part of the process and part of playing the percentages.

Writers Interpreters Translators Group

53.  In the spring of 2008, I started something called the Writers Interpreters Translators (WIT) Group.  It started with an email list of about 15 people, mostly in NY, and now it’s close to 200 people all over North America and the world.  It was after the creation of the WIT Group, I think, that things really started to take off in terms of cross-chapter collaboration for me.

54.  The WIT Group was created based on several motivations.

  1. -I wanted to gather more writers for Newsletter purposes
  2. -I wanted it to be a connection point for JET alums with a common interest, both established alums and those trying to get started
  3. -I wanted to create conditions for collaborations that I couldn’t yet envision (e.g., Author Showcase; an idea I came up with several months after creating the group)
  4. -I wanted to have an email list for distributing translation jobs and other work opportunities.

This notion came in part a year prior, when George Rose, the fomer JETAA NY President and also former interpreter for Hideki Irabu, got a job as the NY Yankees’ Director of Tokyo Operations.  He emailed the JETAA NY officers explaining that the Yankees needed an interpeter for Kei Igawa, something had fallen through, and did we know any JET alums who might be good candidates?  Because of all my interactions through the Newsletter, I had a mental rolodex of people and came up with a short list since he didn’t want a large-scale emailing.  I realized afterwards it would make sense to create a group specifically for distributing these kinds of opportunities.  Creation of the group would in turn also lead more people to sign on to it since it would come to be known as a good place to for finding work opportunities.

  1. -The other part of the equation was that my JET alum friend Stacy Smith was, in fact, a freelance writer, interpreter and translator.  I like to cite her as the original Writer, Interpreter and Translator in the context of the WIT Group.  She mentioned she was looking for more freelance work, and I encouraged her to start the group.  I explained that it would put her at the center of a lot of information and opportunities, she would become known as “the translator person” or however she wanted to be known.  But she said that starting groups isn’t really her thing, so I ended up doing it, even though I have no experience with translating or interpreting.  I couldn’t decide whether it should focus more on writing or translating, so I just wrapped it all up into one loosely defined package.

Distribution Channels
55.  Now a word on distribution channels:  If you think about it, one of the great assets JETAA possesses is a massive distribution channel.

56.  However, chapters are locally oriented, and, due to Japanese privacy laws, the JET alum distribution channel is very diffuse.  If you want to get the word out, you have to communicate with each chapter and ask them to put the word out, or send something to–in the US–the uschapters yahoogroup and hope that other officers take your message and forward it on to their members.

57.  I’ve also realized that each chapter has its own mechanism for communicating with members–maybe email, maybe a website or facebook page, or twitter, maybe still paper newsletter.  And if email, maybe once a week, once a month, it varies.  So there’s no sure-fire, standardized way to reach everyone with one click of a button.  Yet, there still is this big distribution channel that’s available to us.

58.  The idea of reaching people on a level beyond just the chapter is something I started to become aware of as I did the Newsletter.  I was getting $100 to $350 for ads to run in the Newsletter, and the Newsletter was going mostly to the JETAA NY members (about 1,000 people on our email list).  However, I knew that you can charge a heck of a lot more for advertising on a national level.

59.  I briefly considered trying to do a national newsletter, but it was pointed out to me that funding is all at the chapter level and there’s no mechanism in place for funding something like a national newsletter.  So instead I just kept doing the JETAA NY Newsletter and trying to expand the range of writers and the distribution.

60.  Now that I’m running the JetWit site and not doing the Newsletter, I try to use JetWit and the WIT Group to facilitate the sharing and distribution of chapter newsletters and other info.  So there’s not a national newsletter per se, but there’s a mechanism for sharing the information and writing on a national level.  I think in a lot of ways, that’s just as good, and perhaps even better, since it allows for bottom-up innovation and experimentation with newsletters and communications at the local level.

On to JetWit…
61.  It was partially the idea of reaching JETs on a wider level that led to JetWit, which is for all intent and purposes, just a blog.  (This is a good opportunity, by the way, to point out that a blog is simply a kind of user-friendly, pre-fab CMS.)

62.  The idea is that I could create a site that could reach all JET alums and do it in a way that is symbiotic with the activities of JET alumni chapters.  Do some of the things that chapters weren’t doing–such as proactively gatheirng and aggregating job listings and keeping track of “celebrity” JET alums, and amplify some of the efforts and activities that chapters are doing.

63.  In addition to reaching a wider JET alum audience, there were other ideas I had that all fit in with the idea of creating a site like JetWit:

64.  -Newsletter Library:  I always wanted to create a Newsletter archive or library or database, where all chapter newsletters would be aggregated and Newsletter editors could share content, sort of like a Reuters for JETAA Newsletters.

64 a)  And in that regard, I want to make clear that all the content on JetWit is intended to be a resource for JETAA chapters.  If you see something on JetWit that you think would be good on your website or newsletter, go ahead and use it.  No need for advance permission.  It’s there to be an easy to access resource for chapters.

65.  -Career & Jobs:  I work in bankruptcy and I knew what was coming in terms of the problems wiht the economy.  And I figured there would be a big need for job and career help in the JET alum community.  So I wanted to start providing structures to help people in a more proactive way.  In addition to job listings, one of the ideas behind JetWit is that it provides a lot of opportunities for half-steps towards jobs.  Ways to get experience and do things to help yourself beyond the resume.  A way around the catch-22 of needing experience to get a job and a job to get experience.

66.   -Collaboration:  I also had this idea of using the WIT Group to foster collaboration.  Last year I read a book of essays called “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant,” about various writers’ experiences with cooking for themselves—themes of food and being alone.  It occurred to me how applicable that was to the JET experience.  And that the theme of being alone is rarely highlighted or discussed in JET writing, but is such a central part of the JET experience.
-I wanted to email the WIT Group and invite people to submit essays.  But what to do with them?  Getting something published is involved a lot of logistics, requires money, and can leave you in a situation where you put in a lot of effort and money and then it dies on the vine.
-With a blog, I realized, I could have an easy and free way to publish people’s writing.  Then, if it proved popular and someone wanted to provide funding for publication, I could put it into other forms later.
-The project is still in progress and is tentatively titled “The Rice Cooker Chronicles.”

(NOTE:  This is the model for what we did with the JETAA 20th Anniversary Kintetsu Essay Contest Publication.)

67.  Back to JetWit, again these are all bottom-up ideas.  I start with something specific I want to do, such as get people to write essays, and it leads me to create a structure that can serve other purposes as well.  That’s not to say that there’s no role for top-down ideas, since there’s a lot of need for that as well.  It’s just a dynamic to be aware of, and bottom-up is the approach that I’ve had the most success with.  (Maybe b/c I’m not so good with top-down organization. :-)

68.  Actually, one top down idea I’ve had that might match up with what I’ve been doing would be to make JetWit into a hybrid private and non-profit entity.  It would have a physical location, such as an office, and continue to do what it’s doing and generate original content.  But it would also serve as a place for JET alums to get a start and get experience working and learning new skills and maybe even earning some income while producing an original online publication that promotes the goals of the JET Alumni Association and the JET Program.

69.  Given my tendency towards bottom-up ideas and my lack of comfort implementing top-down ideas, I just keep the idea in the back of my head as more of a goal or mission rather than a concrete plan.  However, I’ve been working with a JET alum freelance translator named Laura Pollak who has started setting up a co-working group for other JET alum translators and freelancers.  And maybe that co-working group, as it evolves, could eventually serve as the basis for this bigger idea.

JET Alumni Author Showcase

70.  Now I’m going to talk about the JET alumni author showcase.

[SHOW “More Photos by Vlad Barenenko” on JETWIT]  http://jetwit.com/wordpress/2009/03/26/jet-alumni-author-showcase-more-photos/]

71.  The JET Alumni Author Showcase was held March 22 in NYC.  In my mind, it represents the kinds of event and collaboration that can spring forth after you lay the groundwork and build community through a variety of structures.

72.  I had all these pieces in place–a collection of JET alum authors; a distribution list for communicating with them; a website for promoting and getting the word out; larger group of JET alumni connected to the writing world who were seeking role models and career advice; an extremely well-functioning JET alumni chapter that trusted me and was willing to support my efforts in a variety of ways; and a desire on my part to try to connect people in the JET alumni community.

73.  So it was just a matter of time at that point before I started thinking it would be a neat idea to get a few of the authors together in a room to do readings and talk about their books, the craft of writing and the business of publishing for the benefit of JET alumni.  They get to promote their books.  The JET alums get some good career and other perspectives.  Everyone feels good about this wonderful JET alumni community.  And I get to sit in a room and listen to all these people talk, reminisce and share stories, which I love.

74.  Of course, doing any sort of event in NY is a big deal, and I found myself in over my head with the event planning (kind of like with my wedding).  But that actually turned out well b/c it gave a few other JET alums who were only peripherally involved with JETAA NY at the time a chance to step up and shine.  And now two of them–Chau Lam and Amber Liang–have taken on officer roles.

75.  The event was a big success.  We held it in the conference room of a hotel in NYC (thanks to some funding from the Consulate).  Over 60 people came.  The readings and discussion were terrific.  It brought people from out of town, JET alums we’d never seen before.  The reception turned out to be a great networking event as well.

76.  As for the authors, we had Roland Kelts from Tokyo, Rob Weston from Toronto and James Kennedy from Chicago come to NY and be on a panel moderated by JET alum Randall David Cook, the playwright of “Sake With the Haiku Geisha,” a play based on his JET experience which ran off-broadway a couple years ago.  (He’s now gearing up for a national run of his play, btw, so stay tuned.)

77.  We also got Kinokuniya to agree to come and sell books and to also create a small JET alumni author section in their store

[SHOW “Mar 10 – More Photos”]  http://jetwit.com/wordpress/2009/03/10/jet-alumni-author-section-at-kinokuniya-more-photos/

78.  By the way, Kinokuniya sold every single book they brought, and it was largely a result of the fantastic readings and discussion by each of the authors.

79.  Here’s a clip of Toronto’s own Rob Weston reading from his rhyming novel Zorgamazoo:

(0:00 until 1:15)  http://jetwit.com/wordpress/2009/03/31/jet-alumni-author-showcase-video-clips/

80.  And here’s a clip of James Kennedy reading from The Order of Odd-Fish.  The book is not about Japan, but you’ll hear something that still rings familiar to any JET:

[Video clips – Go to 1:26 until 3:14 – the apology gun and The Very Polite War]

81.  I hope a lot of this information has been helpful.

82.  I’ve tried to share my decision-making process, some of the mistakes and things I learned along the way that led me down certain paths.  I’m sure, though, that I glossed over many parts and made some things sound matter-of-fact when they were anything but.

83.  So please feel free to ask me questions about the how and why if you think it’ll be helpful.

84.  Hopefully I also helped you get excited about the possibilities and potential for really helping JETAA to continue to grow in a meaningful way.  Like I said, I really believe JETAA is on the cusp of very significant growth, just on the basis of demographics and timing.  If you think about it, JETAA is about 22 years old now, the same age many of us were when we first set foot in our new Japanese home towns.

85.  Someday everyone in Japan might be fluent and fully “internationalized” and there’ll be no more need for the JET Program.  But we’ve all been in a classroom over there and we know that…well, it’s not a problem we need to lose sleep over right now.  So I feel pretty confident in saying that JETAA is on the verge of a golden age as it matures into a fully grown alumni organization, and we, as JETAA leaders, just need to be there to provide structure and motivation and enthusiasm to funnel it all in a positive way.

86.  Thank you for sitting patiently and listening to my extended self-introduction.  I realize it’s been a long one so hopefully this is not a one-shot deal where I’m expected to go around Ontario-ken and do this at over and over.

87.  Honto ni go-seichou arigatou gozaimashita. (Thank you for listening quietly.)  I’m happy to do some Q&A for the remaining 10 or 15 minutes.  And as an added incentive, I’ll give away a free–and very chic–JetWit button to each person who asks a question.



1.  JetWit.com

2.  Authors/Books

3.  JETAA Chapter Beat

4.  JET Alumni Author Showcase Photos

5.  JET Alumni Author Showcase Video Clips

one comment so far...

  • jetwit.com - Oh (JETAA) Canada! Said on June 2nd, 2009 at 12:57 pm:

    […] I think the speech went well and resonated with the chapter reps, especially on the themes of creating structures and motivation to get more JET alums to self-identify and view themselves as part of the JET alumni community.  (Full text of speech available here.) […]

leave a reply

Page Rank