Jun 23

Via JETAA Hawaii.  Go to their site for photos and video:

“This past weekend (June 8-10), the Pan-Pacific Festival took place in Hawaii, which involved a range of events, even including a parade through Kalakaua Avenue with groups from all over the Pacific Rim.

Joining the festivities was Mayor Matsui and some of his delegates all the way from Hiroshima.  Through the Japan Local Government Center (JLGC – CLAIR) in New York, JETAA Hawaii had the opportunity to assist the Mayor in some of his tourism promotion activities.

At the first event (June 9, Saturday), JET alumni Keith Sakuda, Kristine Wada, and Darryl Toma joined Mayor Matsui at Ala Moana Center Stage to give a presentation on Hiroshima and promote some of its famous and not-so-famous attractions that include the Peace Park Memorial and Museum, Atomic Bomb Dome, Miyajima, Okonomiyaki, Momiji Manju, Mazda Stadium (baseball), as well as some of the upcoming events such as the 2013 Hiroshima Confectionary Expo (April 9 – May 12, 2013) and Hiroshima Flower Expo.  Following their presentation, a Kagura dance group performed on stage.

At the second event following the presentation at Ala Moana Center Stage, Keith, Kristine, and Darryl joined up with fellow JET alumni David Tokuda, Christine Toyama, and Reid Yamada to have lunch with Mayor Matsui and some of his tourism promotion delegates.  Discussion topics varied, including JET alumni experiences, teaching methods, impressions of Hiroshima, and suggestions for improving tourism promotion for Hiroshima.

The next day (June 10, Sunday), JET alumni David Tokuda and Darryl Toma joined the Mayor and his delegation, along with a representative from the JLGC, to promote tourism to Hiroshima in Waikiki.  Passerbyers filled out questionnaires about Hiroshima, received free information packets that included origami, and had chances to win a variety of prizes from Hiroshima that included brushes, beads, and various pottery.

Overall, the JET alumni that participated had a great time assisting Mayor Matsui and his delegation with their activities and look forward to future opportunities to assist them, as well as the JLGC.

A big thanks goes out to Mayor Matsui from Hiroshima City for giving JETAA Hawaii this opportunity.  We would also like to thank Mayor Matsui’s delegation for their great support throughout each event.  In addition, we would like to thank Naomi-san and everyone from JLGC in New York for her great support in coordinating everything.  Last but not least, thank you very much to Lisa from the Honolulu Japan Consulate for assisting in coordination and of course, all of the JET alumni who participated in these events.

We will look forward to the next time we can meet!”

Jun 3

JETAA Northern California Pacific Bridge: Ganbarou Tohoku!

Anna Fung is a JET ALT in Iwate Prefecture who departed from the Bay Area last year. JETAA Northern California’s Pacific Bridge recently asked Anna to write a piece about living in the devastated region, as well as how the Japanese people around her are recovering.

More than half a year has passed since I arrived in Japan. I’m still a little green since I make plenty of verbal mistakes and perform a lot of gestures to make myself understood, but life is gradually getting easier. I’ve also had the pleasure of making many friends from Japan and around the world.

Many Japanese people are curious as to why I decided to come to Iwate, even after the huge earthquake. Before arriving, I was worried. There was the ongoing cleanup at the coast, as well as radiation problems in Sendai. Despite these lingering doubts, Japan was like another home to me because I have lived here before and befriended many wonderful people.

Being an ALT aboard the JET Program, I work with some teachers whose hometowns were located near the coast and were devastated. One teacher’s house was flooded with water, and the first floor was pretty much destroyed. The house was fixed, but her elementary and junior high schools were wiped out. Inland cities were also affected by the earthquake. One teacher lives in an apartment where her family had power outage when the quake occurred, causing both electricity and water to stop. They were very worried whether they had enough water for their newborn baby. Luckily, electricity was restored after a few days.

Read More

May 29

By Rachel Peters (Fukuoka, 2004-07) for the JETAANC Pacific Bridge magazine. Rachel works at Ayusa International and is helping out with the upcoming Tomodachi Initiative to bring Japanese high school students to the Bay Area during the summer.

After returning from the JET program in 2007, I was eager to enter a field where I could continue to promote cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and awareness. I was extremely fortunate to find my way into Ayusa International, a division of Intrax Cultural Exchange that brings foreign exchange students to the United States for both year-long and short-term programs.

At Ayusa, I work in our Partner and Participant Services Department, which is where I cultivate and maintain relationships with our international partners and resolve issues that arise with our students while they are in the United States. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit our branch office in Japan, travel domestically to visit our students, host families and staff, and work on a variety of projects that foster international exchange.

Working at Ayusa has been a rewarding experience for me both professionally and personally. It’s inspiring to see the impact of the work we do in the lives of our students and the families who graciously host them. This coming summer, I am thrilled about a new program that we will be facilitating here in the Bay Area—the Tomodachi Softbank Leadership Program—and feel that it would be a great opportunity available for JET alumni in the Bay Area.

Read More

May 13

CLAIR NY report on JET alumni support for Japan post-3/11

CLAIR NY has published and posted to its website a report that attempts to capture some of the efforts of the JET alumni community to support Japan post-3/11.  It is worth noting that it’s difficult to capture all of the wide-ranging efforts of the JET alumni community (over 55,000 and growing every year), and there are likely many efforts that have simply not been reported or captured in other ways.  That said, this report still provides a really great overview and some good details.

English version:  http://www.jlgc.org/TopicList.aspx?topicCategoryID=6&topicID=49&languageTypeID=1&controlType=Display

Japanese version:  http://www.jlgc.org/TopicList.aspx?topicCategoryID=24&topicID=263&languageTypeID=2&controlType=Display

May 10

JETAA Chicago’s Bingo Nights with Japanese Senior Living Facility


JETAA Chicago’s Bingo Nights with Japanese Senior Living Facility

By JETAA Chicago Treasurer Thomas Osugi (Hokkaido, 2005-07)

I believe that one of the missions of JETAA is to volunteer and to help out the community at large. As much as I love eating sushi and singing karaoke, it’s always great when JETAA Chicago can give back to the community, and I just wanted to say that our alumni here in Chicago have been doing a great job!

Every month, we regularly help out at a local retirement home called Heiwa Terrace on the north side of Chicago. This place was created by a group called JASC (Japanese American Service Committee) whose mission is to help out the Japanese and Japanese-American communities. (I should mention that Heiwa Terrace is HUD-certified and abides by the rules of equal housing opportunity.)

About the event: Bingo is on the third Thursday of every month, and usually a few of us come in and help call out numbers. It’s very regular and short – in a very Japanese fashion, it promptly starts at 7 and ends at 8. When I first started, I was surprised to see so many residents – 20 or so mainly Japanese, Koreans and others, and how passionate they were about the game. There are always prizes to be won, usually very small things such as a cans of green beans, soap, shampoo, picture frames, but the most popular item is toilet paper! During the game, extra volunteers usually chit-chat, walk around and help out those who are hard of hearing. At the end a few minutes before 8, we play for a grand prize which we call “super” bingo. In order to win “super” bingo, players have to match both top and bottom row. If you can imagine, there is a fair amount of tension in the room to see who is the winner.

Volunteering at Heiwa is great because we get a chance to practice our Japanese, and for us working professionals, it’s right after work and very low stress – unless we miscall numbers (then all bets are off). Afterwards, we usually go out for dinner and catch up.

Although small, I think having this kind of regular volunteer event is great for alumni and the community and a gives a sense of reason for JETAA. I’m not sure if something like this is available in other cities, but I think it is a good model for local chapters everywhere.

Apr 2

volunteerAKITA’s Paul Yoo recognized for National Volunteer Week by Beliefnet.com

In honor of National Volunteer Week, Beliefnet.com has nominated volunteerAKITA’s Paul Yoo for April’s Most Inspiring of the Month for Paul’s work with The Fruit Tree Project and other Tohoku relief work.

Go to the link below to vote for Paul.


Mar 13

An update from The MUD Project, an ongoing Tohoku relief effort organized by JET alum Colin Rennie (CIR Yamagata-ken, 2007-10). Click here to see previous updates by Colin on YouTube:

March 13, 2012

March 11, 2012


Feb 29

Job: Volunteer with National Children’s Museum at the Cherry Blossom Fest (DC)

Via JETAADC. Posted by Dipika Soni (Ishikawa-ken, 2003-06). Dipika has recently moved back to London but is interested in hearing about any Japan-related opportunities across the globe.


Job Position: Volunteer with National Children’s Museum at the Cherry Blossom Fest (DC)

Job Details:

To the JET community,

I volunteered with the National Children’s Museum last year during the Cherry Blossom Festival and it was a BLAST!!! We dressed children in yukata and kimono and let them take a picture. Most of them really enjoyed it and they were all so adorable! I’d highly recommend this experience! Details follow, but feel free to email me if you have any questions.


Read More

Feb 29

Volunteer English conversati​on partners for the City of New York

Via Steven Horowitz and googlegroups.  Posted by Geneva Marie (Niigata-ken 2008-09) Geneva is a sometimes contributor to both JetWit and JETAANY. Geneva is on a continuous (epic) search for Japanese -related jobs in the United States

***Note: If you apply for this position, please let them know you learned of it from JETwit. Thanks.***

Job Position:Volunteer English conversati​on partners for the City of New York

Job Description/Details:We Are New York are looking for volunteer English conversation partners for the city of New York. Conversation group facilitators can give back to their communities by devoting just 30 hours of their time! Read More

Feb 23

Tohoku – The Meme

The below was created by Jamie El-Banna (Design), Dean Newcombe (Photos), and Sabine Taras Thompson (Photos) (all ex-pats who have been volunteering in Tohoku) and shared with me by JET alum Colin Rennie (founder of Tohoku relief effort The MUD Project) who is in the midst of a six-month volunteer stay in Tohoku.


Feb 21

volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund Update 02.21.12

JET Paul Yoo, founder of volunteerAKITA, recently shared this update about fundraising for the volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund which aims to send a boy from one of the orphanages they work with to university (the first boy from the orphanage to ever express interest in going to college):

“Hey everyone! A BIG THANKS for all the support! With all the donations that came in this week we have ¥695,461 left to raise for our scholarship fund. Please help us continue to spread the word and for more information regarding the scholarship fund please check out our website at www.volunteerakita.org or feel free to contact me anytime! (volunteerakita [at] gmail.com).”


Click here to read the previous JETwit post about Paul Yoo and the volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund.

Jan 30

Job: Development Associate/ Grant Writer (NY)

Via Noriko Hino of NY de Volunteer. Posted by Dipika Soni (Ishikawa-ken, 2003-06). Dipika has recently moved back to London but is interested in hearing about any Japan-related opportunities across the globe.


***Note: If you apply for this position, please let them know you learned of it from JETwit. Thanks.***

Job Position: Development Associate/ Grant Writer

Job Details:

Are you interested in Japan, Japanese culture, and meeting Japanese people? Would you like to hone your development skills, the area most desired by non-profit organizations? If so, this may be your perfect internship!
Read More

Jan 24

Former Kesennuma JET to spend honeymoon in Japan supporting relief efforts, seeks fundraising and other support

A request from Andrew Berne (Miyagi-ken, Kesennuma-shi, 1999-2000), reprinted with his permission:

I participated in the JET Programme as an ALT in 1999 and 2000. During that time, I lived and taught in Kesennuma-shi in Miyagi Prefecture. It was a very formative time in my life, and over the years I have remained close with many people in the community. As you are well aware, Kesennuma was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

My wife Kathleen and I recently got married, and for our honeymoon we are traveling to Japan in April to assist in the tsunami relief efforts and contribute what we can to the town’s recovery. It may not be the most conventional honeymoon, but this is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. Kathleen and I met while working for the same Japanese company here in the US, and although we are no longer with that organization we still have deep connections to many people in Japan.

We hope to be able to get to Kesennuma for part of the trip, and we are coordinating several fundraising efforts involving family, friends, and colleagues. We are trying to garner as much support as possible from our contacts here as well as in Japan, and we would be very interested in speaking with anyone willing to discuss ways in which we can make this trip have as much impact and meaning as possible. We are also seeking some guidance and advice about lodging & travel options in Kesennuma.

I can be reached at andrewberne [at] gmail.com. If you have the ability to Skype, my username is berneandrew.

Our schedule is as follows:

– April 13-15: Sendai

– April 15-19: Kesennuma

– April 19-22: Tokyo

We’ve planned the trip around the beginning of the school year and sakura season. I’ve also been folding paper cranes like mad, hoping to reach 1,000 by the time we leave for Japan.

Nov 18


Xmas Cards for Tohoku Kids


A  Professor Emeritus of Chuo University has started a project called “Xmas Cards from Friends Around the World”. This is a campaign to gather Christmas cards from around the world to bring to the children in Tohoku. If you’d like to participate, please send your card(s) to the following address:

c/o Mrs. Mayumi Hoshi
Shichigahama-cho Saigai-Volunteer Center
Noyama 5-9, Yoshidahama
Shichigahama-cho, Miyagi
JAPAN 985-0802
ATTN: Boys and Girls

For more information (Japanese only) please see the PDF.

Nov 9


Thanks to JETAA USA Country Representative (and JETAA USA Fund Committee member) Megan Miller (Hyogo-ken) for the following summary of the JETAA USA Earthquake Relief Fund’s disbursements.  It was originally an e-mail sent to the JETAA USA chapter officers Google Group which has been modified slightly for posting here:

Dear US Chapters,

The fund committee has been hard at work and has finalized the donations for the $76,000+ we have raised so far. I’d like to thank the committee as well as the folks at JETAANY for all of their hard work during the past 8 months, and I’d also like to thank all of you for your amazing fundraising efforts. News of JETAA’s collective, world wide fundraising efforts as JET Alumni is very much on the radar screen in Japan. It is great that we can support the people of Japan and also demonstrate the value of our network and our commitment to Japan at the same time.

To recap the fund committee’s decision, here is where we are allocating the funds raised to date:

1. Hope for Tomorrow – $25,000 (http://hope-tomorrow.jp/)

A major challenge that high school students from the Tohoku region will face is to keep from falling behind students from elsewhere in the country who are studying for their college entrance exams. The students in Tohoku graduating this March had completed their exams by the time of the earthquake, but the ones who will graduate next year are liable to fall behind due to the length of time schools have been shut down, the absence of cram schools and other supplementary educational activities during their senior year, and the trauma and family tragedies that many have to face. On top of this, they need sufficient resources to even take the university exams, which tend to require travel to Tokyo, Sendai or Hokkaido. The exam fees are likely to be waived for many students, but there is no system to support their personal travel, lodging, meals, etc. when they leave their hometowns to take the entrance exams. In many cases, these expenses can easily exceed US$1,000, which will be difficult for families who have lost their homes and businesses to muster.

In response, a group of Tokyo volunteers has launched a new NPO called “Hope for Tomorrow” that plans to help support students by covering these expenses. They have been in touch with the main high schools in Kessennuma and Ishinomaki about this initiative. Kessennnuma had the greatest need, so they have come to an agreement with the high school to start supporting their students, and they hope to expand to other schools, including Ishinomaki’s high school. They are also interested in expanding to Rikuzentakata and open to other suggestions from us about other places. (In May, they tried to speak with the Rikuzentakata authorities as well as those in the neighboring town, Ofunato, where students were attending high school since Rikuzentakata’s high school was badly damaged, but were unable to have discussions due to the overwhelming challenges school officials were facing. However, they hope to try again soon.) In addition to the helping with the exam fees, they also wish to provide mentoring services to the students and other support that can aid them before and after their exams.

Update:  They have expanded to Takata High School (the Rikuzentakata HS, although temporarily being operated in an empty school in Ofunato), because of our funds. Takata High School is delighted, and things are all firmed up now. They are also operating in Kessennuma, and might expand into Ishinomaki or elsewhere if there is additional funding.

2. E.Pa+Ch – $25,000 (http://soup1993.com/epatch.html)

E.Pa+Ch stands for Youth Empowerment Iwate (direct translation:  Empowerment through Participation and Challenge). This group was created by a professor at Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) who has been active in mobilizing college volunteers to work in the disaster zone through a project called “GingaNet.”  The group is planning to launch a major initiative throughout the prefecture to provide tutoring to and study rooms for middle school students who have fallen behind in their studies, with IPU students acting as volunteer tutors. (This may be expanded to high school students taking university entrance exams, in which case professional juku teachers will need to be employed). The board of education expressed support for this, and the IPU professor, Yamamoto-sensei, is going to continue developing the program in consultation with the board. This innovative program was launched on Nov 1, and it possibly will be a model for other programs around Tohoku. CR Jess Wilcox and Fund Committee member Jim Gannon were interviewed regarding our involvement. Read the article here: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111104005277.htm

3. Rikuzentakata Board of Education – $10,000

This direct contribution to the BoE will help alleviate some immediate needs of the schools, possibly including the hiring of a second JET for the area. There is currently a JET in RT who replaced Monty Dickson and the BoE would like to hire a second.

4. Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund – $5,000 (http://www.st.catherines.org/tayloranderson )

Many of you are already familiar with the work that the Anderson Family has been conducting. We have made a $5,000 donation to their fund to demonstrate our collective support.

5. Grants for 2-3 JET-related orgs – $10,000+ (To Be Finalized)

We are working with Paul Yoo of volunteerAKITA and Living Dreams who worked with Mike Maher King (Smile Kids Japan). Our grants will help support their grass roots efforts of volunteering in the area, bringing in needed supplies, and ‘filling in the cracks’ where other NGO’s are unable to assist.

TOTAL = $76,000+

Also, many of you might be aware that the JETAA international meeting was held in Tokyo from Oct 21-22. The meeting was covered and televised by NHK news. We also met with various government ministers who thanked us for our efforts to support Japan and asked us for advice on improving the JET program.

After the meeting we volunteered alongside current JETs in Rikuzentakata. We are doing a write up of that emotional experience and will send it to you in the coming days. Being in Rikuzentakata really drove home how important our efforts are. We have the power to get our funds directly in the hands of the people making decisions on the reconstruction effort.

To that end we would like to encourage JETAA chapters to continue fundraising. We now have connections on the ground and can help deploy funds efficiently and effectively. We have been notified that JETAANY will not be able to host the fund next year due to tax reasons, but we will work to find another nonprofit chapter that can help support us. Thank you again JETAANY for all the extra work you took on this year to make the fund a reality!

Lastly, it is always helpful when the JET alumni community is able to remind others of the ongoing needs in Tohoku and share news of JETAA’s accomplishments with others. I strongly encourage each of you and your chapter members to reach out to local news publications, church newsletters, your college and HS alumni magazines, work newsletters, chapter newsletters, etc. A great deal of information can be found on JETwit and the JETAA USA website.  You can also contact members of the JETAA USA Fund Committee or local chapter officers if you need additional information or an official representative or spokesperson.

Stay tuned for more detailed information to follow.


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