Why Did They Come? A survey of new JETs


First years: Want to know why your fellows also chose to join JET? Returners: Lost  touch with your roots and want a reminder of why you packed up your life to come to Japan? Below are the responses of six first year JETs.


JChao0915Justin Chao, Boston, MA, Ono


Why Japan: I love Japanese film history, and after spending a semester abroad in Kyoto, I felt as if there was still so much left for me to experience and explore throughout Japan.


Goals: Improve my Japanese proficiency, plug myself into the local skateboarding scene (Kobe especially), find some way to involve myself in the local community, and go into a hot spring with monkeys.


Most excited for: Eating food I haven’t yet tried, like fugu.


Wish I’d known: That no matter how much money I spent trying to win a Yoshi plushie at the game center, in the end I was going to give up.


Favorite memory: A water show in Kobe’s Harborland called Splash Fantasia. Had no idea what to expect, and what I got was a crowd of people screaming for their lives as cold water sprayed all over them with Star Wars music blasting in the background.


AChavez0915Angelica Chavez, Fresno, CA, Nishiwaki

I am currently placed in a smaller, older, and quaint town called Nishiwaki located in the middle of the Hyogo Prefecture. It is constructed with mostly traditional Japanese housing, along with its scenic mountains and rivers to complete this small town’s beauty.


Why Japan: I find Japan to be culturally fascinating, especially when it comes to their delicious food. Working at an American-Japanese restaurant for 7 years of my life while pursuing a degree in English brought me to consider Japan as a work environment.


Goals: Learning the Japanese language and way of daily life is a huge goal of mine.


Most excited for: I will be working at Nishiwaki High School and I am excited to enrich the lives of Japanese students who attend this highly successful and academic school with the cross-cultural knowledge that I have of America and the English language.


Wish I’d known: Japanese


Favorite memory: While I don’t speak the Japanese language, sharing Japanese food with other teachers I have met so far has brought us common ground, and it has become a favorite memory of mine in the week that I have been here.



RKelly0915Rory Kelly, UK, Himeji


Why Japan: See why here!


Goal: I’d like to explore more of Asia: before now, I’ve only spent one very stuffy, confused day in Seoul airport, but I can’t shake the feeling there might be more to the continent than that.


Most excited for?: There are bars with penguins in them. ‘Nuff said.


Wish I’d known: That three different Japanese people would give me the nickname “Lollipop,” because they think my name is “Lolly;” I might have come up with an easier-to-pronounce pseudonym.

Favorite memory: Absolutely killing it at karaoke performing “I Will Survive.” I didn’t know I had it in me.


MKulvaranon0915Michael Kulvaranon, Vernon Hills, IL, Ono

Why Japan: I studied abroad in Kobe at Konan University two years ago, and have wanted to come back ever since.


Goals: To pass the N2 JLPT, and record all my experiences in Japan as a teacher


Most excited for: Teaching junior high, as it’s my first classroom experience. There’re bound to be problems, but that’s what makes it interesting.

Wish I’d known: I knew it was hot during Japan’s summer, but I wasn’t prepared for the humidity. I should have brought more shirts.

Favorite memory: When I studied abroad in Kobe, I used to go to Sannomiya all the time with friends. There is a bus to Sannomiya from Ono, so I went there to revisit all the places I used to go to, and remember a lot of the memories I made there.


Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetJappy Molina, Philippines, Suma (Kobe)


Why Japan: It is simple– I fell in love with Japan! July 2014 was the first time I came to Japan. I attended an international conference about education. The moment I got here, I fell in love with everything about it– the people, places, culture, and the discipline. On the last day of the educational trip, I promised myself to come back and stay in Japan. And that was when I came across the JET Programme.


Goals: Japan is a country where culture is preserved very much, which has made it one of the most successful countries in the world. Coming from a third world country, I want to experience Japan’s unique culture. I want to learn a lot about Japan’s education, mentality, discipline, and language, which I could share back in my home country. During my stay here, I want to take part in strengthening openness and internationalization through English language teaching and cultural exchange.


Most excited for: A lot of things are in store for me. Living alone in a foreign country with a very unique language and culture is not a piece of cake. Going home after a day’s work with nobody else there is another thing. I am excited to learn and discover myself more. I am excited to absorb and learn from lots of ups and downs which I know will help me become a more real adult.


Wish I’d known: Seriously, Nihongo! I wish I had enough time to take up a Japanese Language course before moving here. I find myself totally lost in translation even now. Nande–yanen?! Dealing with everyday life would be much faster and easier if I could understand and speak their language.


Favorite memory: One memory I surely won’t forget was when I arrived at my apartment. Everything seemed to be surreal. But, this is it. I’m gonna be far away from home and I’m gonna be on my own. I am now about to start the 6th year of my teaching career in a totally different place. I am here and it’s now the time to say YES to all the new adventures ahead.


JReach0915Jessica Record, Bothell, WA, Sanda


Why Japan:  I grew up surrounded by Japanese culture and products without being aware of it. It wasn’t until I got older that my best friend made me realize most of the food, television shows and games I loved were from Japan. I studied Japanese culture in college, and realized I loved to teach while in school. So, JET is perfect because I can practice teaching and live in the culture I studied.


Goals:  My goals are to have a deep conversation about Japanese history with a Japanese history teacher and create a foundation for my future career.


Most excited for: Everything. Before I arrived I looked forward to seeing the historical sights, but I found out my city is full of history and plenty of things to do, so I will not have to go far to find adventure.


Wish I’d known: Everything in my house is mine. Inheriting an apartment is a weird concept and only recently have I accepted that I can change things in my apartment.


Favorite memory: Accidently joining the Kendo club! I was speaking to another teacher about how I did Kendo at community college and the next thing I know we’re in the dojo practicing.



Compiled by Brittany Teodorski


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