Jan 16

JET Alumnus to Give Encore Lecture on Student Loan Debt in NYC


Writer, researcher, and JET alumnus Matt Leichter (Saitama-ken ’03-’05) will give an encore performance of his lecture, “College Education: Certain Debt, Uncertain Income.” It will again be hosted by the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City. The event date is Wednesday, January 29, at 6:30 PM. The location is not the school’s normal address; instead it will be at:

NYC Seminar and Conference Center

71 West 23rd Street (corner of 6th Ave.)

New York, NY 10010

Here is the lecture’s abstract:

Soaring costs for education, together with limited job opportunities and stagnant wage growth, place substantial financial and psychological burdens on students.

Noted columnist and researcher Matt Leichter reviews tuition inflation, cuts in public funding and the business of lending to students. Mr. Leichter will also propose reforms to the system of financing college education.

Space is limited; please register to attend by emailing hgs.billy@gmail.com.

Jan 13

Career: Resources for Professional Development in the Nonprofit Sector

By Ellen Abramowitz, (ALT Shiga-ken 2012-13), a New York City native with a background in international energy, environment and sustainability nonprofits. She hopes to continue to promote community-based change in how people interact with their environment through education and action-based programming.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States. These organizations are present in many fields including government and policy, economics, health, environment and the arts. If you are looking to advance your career in the nonprofit sector, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, there are certain skills that are always needed by these groups, which generally achieve great results with a small staff and a tight budget. Gaining skills in project management, grant-writing, fundraising and budgeting – even if it is not your focus area – will help you stand out from other candidates.


The Foundation Center (foundationcenter.org) connects people who want to change the world with the resources they need. They provide information about finding grants and donors. In their New York City location, they provide many free and low-cost classes monthly on topics like proposal writing, budgeting and networking. These are necessary skills for anyone interested in a career in nonprofits. Here is the January calendar:

Another helpful resource is Read More

Jan 6



Let’s Talk Japan is a monthly, interview format podcast covering a wide range of Japan-related topics.  Host Nick Harling (Mie-ken, 2001-03) lived in Japan from 2001 until 2005, including two great years as a JET Program participant in Mie-Ken.  He practices law in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife who patiently listens to him talk about Japan . . . a lot.

In this episode, Nick speaks with Stacy Smith about the joys and challenges of working as a professional Japanese translator and interpreter.  Stacy worked as a Coordinator of International Relations (CIR) for the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program in Kumamoto prefecture before eventually returning to the United States and turning her love of Japanese into a career.  When not on the road with work, Stacy lives in New York City.

Together they discuss how Stacy became interested in the Japanese language; how she went about deciding to become a professional translator & interpreter; the impact of technology; and tips for improving your own Japanese study habits

To learn more about Stacy,  check out her website as well as her blog posts for JETwit.  Also, here’s a great article about Japanese translation and interpretation.

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If you have not already done so, be sure to “Like” the podcast on Facebook, and follow the podcast on Twitter @letstalkjapan.  Additionally, please consider leaving a positive rating and/or review in iTunes.


Dec 4

Kitcher’s Café, a new series by Lana Kitcher (Yamanashi-ken, 2010-12) is an assortment of articles, topics and commentary written for the JET Alumni community. Lana currently serves as the Business Development Associate at Bridges to Japan, a New York-based cross-cultural consulting firm founded by JET alum Jennifer Jakubowski (Hokkaido, 1995-97). 

Dear recent JET returnees and current “job hunters,”

Cards.LinkedInI was given the opportunity to speak at the JETAANY Career Forum in New York City a few weeks ago. Approximately 25 recent returnees (plus JET alumni going through a career transition) attended the event and were able to learn from the presenters, and also from one another, about how to successfully land a job in today’s economy. We learned that it is important to keep strategies current as technology continues to change and as the methods of yesterday are not necessarily effective for our search today.

I would like to share with you some of the points from my presentation called “Making the Most of Your Network,” in case some of you are also going through this transition now. When I first returned home from the JET Program I had a really difficult time figuring out how to start the job search. At that point my only full-time job had been teaching English in Japan, and I didn’t know how to start looking for a new job from scratch. It took me until mid February to get a job, and I really wish someone had told me what I needed to hear earlier.

Read More

Dec 2

JET Alumn to Lecture on Student Loan Debt in NYC


Writer, researcher, and ex-JET Matt Leichter (Saitama-ken ’03-’05) will be presenting “College Education: Certain Debt, Uncertain Income” at the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City on Friday, December 20, at 6:30 PM. Here is the abstract:

Soaring costs for education, together with limited job opportunities and stagnant wage growth, place substantial financial and psychological burdens on students.

Noted columnist and researcher Matt Leichter reviews tuition inflation, cuts in public funding and the business of lending to students. Mr. Leichter will also propose reforms to the system of financing college education.

The school is located in Manhattan on East 30th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue.

Nov 12

Let’s Talk Japan, Episode 17 – Temple University Japan


Let’s Talk Japan is a monthly, interview format podcast covering a wide range of Japan-related topics.  Host Nick Harling (Mie-ken, 2001-03) lived in Japan from 2001 until 2005, including two great years as a JET Program participant in Mie-Ken.  He practices law in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife who patiently listens to him talk about Japan . . . a lot.

In this episode, Nick speaks with Bruce Stronach, the dean of Temple University Japan, the oldest and largest foreign university in Japan.  Together they discuss the unique undergraduate and graduate opportunities available at Temple’s Tokyo campus as well as recent trends and the future of higher education in Japan.


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If you have not already done so, be sure to “Like” the podcast on Facebook, and follow the podcast on Twitter @letstalkjapan.  Additionally, please consider leaving a positive rating and/or review in iTunes.

Oct 10

Career: Okaeri – Volunteering your way to a job

AmberPhoto-2-225x300Originally posted to the JETAA DC website by JETAA DC Newsletter Editor Kathryn Kovacs:  http://jetaadc.org/okaeri-volunteering-your-way-to-a-job/

Amber Liang, a former JET participant in Kochi Prefecture, shares her experience using volunteer work to boost her resume and land a job. She is now gainfully employed and serving on the JETAA New York Board of Directors.

Volunteering. What does that word conjure up? For many people, the first thing that comes to mind might be images of serving food at a soup kitchen, cleaning up the local park, or perhaps even, playing   bingo at your neighborhood senior home. How does this actually lead to a job, you might ask? In the right context, volunteering can be a very effective strategy for laying the groundwork for a career, especially if you can mold the experience to suit your professional needs. To prove my point, I’m going to use my personal experience volunteering for JETAA New York (JETAANY) as a case study.

When I returned from my unforgettable two years on JET, I was remarkably optimistic that I would have no trouble finding a job in New York–naively so, because two weeks after my return, Lehman Brothers announced it was filing for bankruptcy and, well, you know the rest of the story. Needless to say, it was a rough time. I signed up with a number of temp agencies, but there wasn’t much that came my way and the jobs that did weren’t ones I could base a career off of.  After weeks of doing nothing, I decided to get out of the house and went to my first JETAA event—the annual softball tournament, to be exact—where I met some awesome JET alumni, many of whom became excellent sounding boards for me; they told me about their careers and gave me some valuable advice on how to approach mine. This brings me to LESSON #1: Use your volunteering experience to build your network. Do not be afraid to speak candidly to everyone you meet. Networking with those you volunteer with is the perfect way to develop relationships in a more casual way than traditional networking avenues.

In the course of my conversations, I mentioned the fact that I had organized a number of events while on JET.  I was speaking to none other than Steven Horowitz, founder of JETWit, and he invited me to help him produce an author showcase with some prominent JET alumni. Of course, having nothing better to do, I enthusiastically accepted. The event was widely successful and it confirmed that I not only enjoyed organizing events but I was also good at it. LESSON #2: Use volunteering as a way to work on your own skills and learn about your inner passions. This really gave me the confidence to run for secretary of JETAANY and continue producing events including a play reading of Sake with the Haiku Geisha, written by JET alumnus Randall David Cook.

When I went to apply for jobs, I now had substantive experience and results that I could talk about. I could also narrow down the types of jobs I wanted to that involving project management and event planning. When employers asked me what I was doing while I was unemployed, I could honestly and proudly say that I was being very productive. Lesson #3: Work your volunteering into your resume.I brought the flyers that I had created to my interviews and I showed them lists of all the events that I had organized on JETAANY. Long story short, I eventually got a job that I really wanted working in both program management and event planning, and what really brought it full circle was that my new boss knew Randall David Cook. Talk about making your network work for you!

In today’s tight job market, it’s important to stay relevant and engaged, and even more so if you are unemployed. You’d be surprised at how forgiving employers are when it comes to unconventional experiences, like volunteering, as long as you can tie it all it. So I encourage you to consider your passions, build your network, and volunteer your way to a job.

Did you volunteer your way to a job? Let us know any lessons you learned or resources in the comments.

(Hungry for more job search advice from JET alumni? Check out The Job Search section of our online Returnee Handbook).

Aug 25

JETAA UK Networking Reception in the Midlands (UK)

Via JETAA UK. Posted by Kim ‘Kay’  Monroe (Miyazaki-shi, 1995 -97). Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.

JETAA UK Networking Reception in the Midlands
Thursday October 3rd, 5.30pm-7.30pm, Nottingham University
This event, co-hosted by the University of Nottingham, is open to all ex-JETs from any region.
There will be:
· careers related advice/up-to-date information on doing business with Japan
· networking opportunities with: local UK companies interested in people with Japan related skills, Japanese people/companies in the region and of course other ex-JETS.
This event is RSVP only so contact us at midlands@jetaa.org.uk to receive your invitation. Hope to see you there.

Aug 22

Life After JET: The Write Stuff by Ashley Thompson

Recently posted to the JETAA Oceania Facebook group by Eden Law:

The JET Programme has led to many opportunities and careers, sometimes rather unexpectedly. This is the first in a series of articles by former JETs about their lives after participating on the programme, and how it has shaped their careers and paths. We hope that it will prove useful as an insight for potential applicants into what we as ex-JETs got from our experience, and maybe provide some nostalgic memories for others. Please feel free to contact us if you want to write about your own experience!  

Our article comes to us courtesy of Ashley Thompson, who was a former JET in Shizuoka-ken (2008-10). Since leaving JET she has built up a writing career which includes being an editor of Surviving in Japan, a popular blog for expats in Japan; and as a Community Manager for Nihongo Master,  an online Japanese language learning site.  Many thanks to Ashley for her time and support!

I never expected that going to Japan with JET would launch my writing career or bring about the opportunities it has. And fainting at school was the catalyst. It happened on a cool October day, just over a year after I arrived in Japan. A student had come to the door of the staff room to ask me something, and after standing up from seat my vision started fading and my head was cloudy. I lowered myself to the floor before I lost consciousness. I was rushed to the nurse’s room on a stretcher and sent home for a few days.

The first day back at school I developed a fever and was promptly sent home. The light-headedness returned stronger at that point, followed by motion sickness and constant nausea. I was forced to take a longer sick leave, month after month, as I visited various doctors in an attempt to get a diagnosis. They either found nothing or told me it was “all in my head”. I knew they were wrong, but in Japan a doctor’s word is like God’s. Read More

Jul 17

New JETAA UK Mentoring Scheme

Jetaa_mentor_schemeVia the extremely wonderful JETAA UK website:

New JETAA Mentoring Scheme

JETAA UK is keen to find new ways to help returning JETs with their job search if/when they return to the UK. One popular idea is to set up a mentoring scheme to link returning JETs with other ex-JETs that have already established their careers in the UK.

We are looking for mentors from various working sectors with (in principle) five years work experience post-JET. This is a chance for you to build your leadership skills while giving back to the JET community. Please, please get involved, and pass this on to other ex-JET friends that might be interested.

For possible mentors:
You can sign up to the scheme here:
***Please note your personal information will not be used for any purpose other than the administration of the Mentor Program.***

For returning JETs:
We have a separate sign up sheet for you here:

The deadline for mentor sign-ups is August 30th, 2013. We plan to assign mentors and mentees within two weeks of that date.

*****Also from the JETAA UK website**********

Questionnaire for Careers Networking Events

JETAA UK wants to support JETs with their post-JET careers and provide nationwide professional networking opportunities and JET connect events for its members. In order to do this, we want to know what professional and regional areas you would be interested in and whether you would be willing to help out in any way.

Please fill in this quick questionnaire to help us help you!


Contact Sarah Parsons, National Careers and Networking Coordinator for more info. on careers@jetaa.org.uk.

May 3

Career: DISCO Sydney Career Forum for bilingual jobs in Asia – May 11, 12

Via JETAA New South Wales. Posted by Kay Monroe (Miyazaki-shi, 1995 -97). Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.

DISCO Inc., the producer of International Career Forums around the world, will be starting a new event in Sydney, Australia in 2013.  Australia was chosen for this new event because it is an active member of the Asian Pacific’s people, culture, and business interactions, while still retaining world-ranking universities.  It is the best place to hire the English bilingual business leaders of Asia for the future.  The event is being focused on companies that want Japanese-English bilinguals as well as other Asian-background bilingual students and mid-career professionals residing in Australia, New Zealand, and other surrounding Oceanic countries.

[Business Attire Required]
*Because the Career Forum is a job fair event, business attire is required for all Career Forum participants. Casual attire such as jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are not permitted at the event.

For more information please go to: http://www.careerforum.net/event/syd/?lang=E

Apr 6

Life After JET: Teaching perspective from Kevin Stein

A great post about teaching from The Other Things Matter,” a great blog by Osaka-based ESL teacher Kevin Stein.  Kevin is also the author of the article “Even a Native Speaker Stops Sometimes:  Helping Japanese Learners to Understand What is Said.” 

As many flavors of failure…

I came over to Japan for my first English language teaching job on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.  It was 14 years ago.  I was living way out in the countryside and always looked forward to our big prefectural trainings.  At that time, the program directors gathered up the assistant language teachers twice a year and plunked us all down in a hot-spring hotel for three days.  During those trainings, I first learned how to use the International Phonetic Alphabet as a tool for pronunciation work.  I learned about how to help students adjust to ambiguity in the language classroom (something I recently revisited thanks to the spring issue of The English Connection).  And oddly (or perhaps not oddly at all), I met John Fanselow for the first time.  He gave a lecture on partial information which has stayed more than partially with me for over a dozen years.

I also remember one more presentation from the first training I attended. It was only thirty minutes or so long.  It was given by a very unassuming high school teacher from Japan.  He wore a short-sleeved cream colored button-down shirt with a brown necktie.  He stood at the front of the room and started telling us about his bullet-train ride into the conference.  He hadn’t brought much cash with him, so he bought a cheap Japanese lunch-box before getting on the train.  He put his luggage and Japanese lunch-box on the rack above his seat, nodded to the business man sitting next to him, and then promptly took a nap.

When he woke up, he felt a little hungry, so he pulled down his lunch box.  He was pleased to find that, even though it was a cheap lunch-box, it was filled with all sorts of strips of beef, some fatty tuna, and quail eggs.  He was particularly happy about the quail eggs as they were his favorite.  About half way through eating his lunch-box, the businessman next to him also woke up from a nap, stood up, and took down his own lunch-box.  But as soon as the businessman opened the lunch-box up, he seemed to get very angry.  The presenter said, “I wasn’t sure why he was angry.  I guessed that maybe he was disappointed in his lunch-box.  It wasn’t as nice as mine.  It was the kind with sausages, not steak.  Fried fish, not sushi.  I felt very bad for him.”  Then the presenter started laughing.  A real solid laugh that, I think, made everyone else in the room want to laugh as well.  “In fact, I was feeling bad for him when he turned to me and said….

Click here to read the full post on Kevin’s blog.

Feb 25

The Growth of MAT-TESOL and USC Rossier Online

If any JETs or JET alumni are thinking of doing a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), this is definitely worth a read.  I also encourage any JETs interested in teaching to join the JETAA Educational Professionals LinkedIn group:


This blog post was originally published at USC Rossier Online and written by Dr. Rob Filback and Dr. Christian Chun.  Dr. Filback is Associate Professor of Clinical Education and Co-Chair of the Global Executive Doctor of Education program.  He serves as a coordinator for the MAT-TESOL.  Dr. Chun is Assistant Professor of Clinical Education for the MAT-TESOL program.

Origins of the MAT TESOL

Our MAT-TESOL degree that launched in 2010 is the product of a multi-year, collaborative redesign process. The MAT-TESOL program (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) boasts a rich heritage at USC and has featured prominent scholars over the decades such as David Eskey, Fraida Dubin, and Stephen Krashen. In 2008 we decided to build on this foundation by redesigning the TESOL program in order to create a new, innovative and forward-looking degree that could better prepare graduates for the new challenges and new opportunities now facing English language teachers around the world.

We began by inviting an external review by a team of experts: Donna Brinton, Maureen Andrade and Lia Kamhi-Stein. Then, using this team’s recommendations, the faculty worked together to overhaul the USC TESOL program. The existing degrees were closed and one entirely new degree, the MAT-TESOL, was created. This included designing all new courses focused on current problems of practice , expanding the role of clinical field experiences, restructuring the capstone and practicum experiences to be more professionally relevant, and integrating technology including offering the degree online through 2SC.

About the Degree
The resulting MAT-TESOL degree directly addresses prevailing challenges being faced by TESOL educators in classrooms around the world. The new degree is also more dynamic and nimble, designed to give faculty the ability to make ongoing changes and to develop new units and modules as new needs are identified. The degree consists of four terms of coursework requiring approximately 14-15 months to complete. The online degree and the on-campus degree utilize the exact same curriculum, faculty, and requirements. The target audience for the MAT-TESOL includes current or prospective teachers who wish to enter or advance in the field of TESOL. Roughly a third of program participants are pre-service or novice teachers, while the remaining students have a range of teaching experiences that include teaching young learners or K12 students, university students, and or adults. About half of the students in the program are situated domestically in the U.S. and about half complete the degree while residing in another country. The majority of participants who complete the MAT-TESOL are U.S. citizens.

Growth of the Program
Since the launch in 2010, the number of enrolled graduate students has increased dramatically, from a 12-member on-campus cohort in the Fall 2010 to 39-member on-campus cohort for Fall 2012. The online cohort students have increased as well in the last two years, bringing the total number of both on-campus and online students in the Fall 2012 cohort group to 71 students! They have come from a variety of countries including Spain, Italy, Japan, South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, and of course, the USA. In addition, the Trojan TESOL society has been reactivated with numerous students planning activities and events for the coming academic year. Several of our MAT-TESOL students have presented on their work at professional conferences including the regional TESOL conferences. Our graduates are currently teaching across the United States and abroad in a variety of educational settings.

To learn more about the MAT-TESOL program, request more information or check out the USC Rossier Online TESOL page!


Feb 7

2013 JETAA Tokyo Mentor Program

A request from Christian Tsuji (Miyazaki-ken, 2004-08), current JETAA Tokyo Career Chair. Originally posted on the JETAA Tokyo Facebook group. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken 2006-11).

Hi everyone,logo

I am proud to announce the kick-off of the 2013 Mentor Program.

The purpose of the program is to provide current JETs from all parts of Japan and new alumni with a resource for developing their careers in Tokyo. We are looking for mentors from all walks of life with (in principle) five years work experience post-JET and two years in Tokyo. This is a chance for you to build your own resume and leadership skills while giving back to the JET community. As a mentor, we would expect the following contributions:

– Monthly contact with your mentee through face-to-face meetings, telephone, Skype, Facebook or email

– Advice and suggestions on researching career opportunities in the Tokyo area

– Feedback on job search materials (resume, rirekisho, letters of recommendation, etc.)

– If possible, attendance to the JETAA Tokyo Mentor Program Kick-off in February/March (TBD) and the Program Finale in June/July (TBA)

If you think other resources would benefit your mentee, we encourage you to offer those as you see fit. Please note that you will NOT be expected to offer internships to your mentee. The deadline for mentor sign-ups is February 28th, 2013. We plan to assign mentors and mentees within two weeks of that date. This year we are turning the tables and advertising this to ALL current JETs nationally. Thus we are expecting quite an interest. If you know anyone who like to be a Mentor, please pass this information along. Thank you for your attention and support.

To sign up, please go here!

Jan 20

Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in product licensing and copyright (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko.  If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal  [at] gmail.com.


  • It’s less than a month until Robert Weston’s (Nara-ken, 2002-04) release of his new book, Prince Puggly of the Spiff and the Kingdom of Spud, and to mark the countdown he posted some of the artwork for the book. Victor Rivas is also behind the illustrations of Robert’s previous book, Zorgamazoo. Speaking of Zorgamazoo, it seems like we might be seeing this on the big screen! By the producers of Shrek no less! Congratulations on the film option Robert!
  • What’s going on in the Japanese pop culture arena? Take a look at Roland Kelt’s (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) blog on his brief picture post on Japan’s Comiket, the mecca of all things self-published. Looking at his website made me realize that it was Hayao Miyazaki’s 72nd birthday this month. Shame on me, I know.
  • Ari Kaplan, JET Alumni and author of Reinventing Professional Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, recently had his book translated into Japanese, which is under the title ハスラー プロフェッショナルたちの革新 . The translated book can be found at the publisher’s website. Here is what Ari had to say about his book being translated:

    The publication of the Japanese edition offered me the opportunity to express my gratitude for the remarkable experience I had almost two decades ago. I dedicated this version to the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, Kobe Kohoku High School (where I taught), and the head of the English department at my school, among others.


Until next time JET alumni!









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