JET Program Reflections #1–Arrival

Image from Tonoharu: Part One 

In an effort to add some more of that all-important “content” to my blog (without going to the effort of actually creating it) I’ve decided to post some slightly edited versions of the e-mails I sent out to people during my stint on the JET Program. I figured I’d post a new one every Tuesday until I run out of them; I have enough for probably two months or so. These Tuesday entries will be in addition to, not instead of, my weekly update of all-new material every Friday (Wow!).

So here’s the first one that I could find, written Mid-August 2003, shortly after my arrival to Japan:

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The JET Program

Pictured: A Typical Solemn Moment at Ainoshima Junior High School

Since it played such an important role in shaping my new comic Tonoharu, I thought I’d devote a journal entry to the JET Program.

The JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Program was founded twenty years ago by the Japanese Government to:

promote grass roots internationalization at the local level by inviting young overseas graduates to assist in international exchange and foreign language education in local governments, boards of education and elementary, junior and senior high schools throughout Japan… [and] to foster ties between Japanese citizens (mainly youth) and JET participants at the person-to-person level.
Source: JET Program Official Website

Japan is, of course, an island nation, and is ethnically homogenous, with 99% of the population being Japanese. Outside of large cities, Japanese kids don’t have much (if any) contact with foreigners, so it’s easy to understand how English education would seem totally irrelevant to their lives. It’s the job of the JET program participant to serve as a living example that English has actual utility outside of the classroom, thereby (hopefully) inspiring students to devote a little more energy to working on their English skills.

Continue reading The JET Program