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PostNoah Rich in Japan; JET Program (John Eipper, USA, 09/12/17 11:11 am)
Noah Rich writes:
Dear John and the rest of WAISworld:
A (delayed) greeting to Professor Robert Whealey. I hope his work on the memoirs is going well. I read over what he sent me this past summer once for content, and I was thoroughly enjoying what I had read, but I was swept up in a whirlwind of things to do after moving to Japan, so I haven't given much time to checking for grammar, spelling, etc.
A while back our Editor-in-Chief John Eipper asked me to talk about my new gig.
During my senior year at Ohio University, I was applying for a program called the Japanese Exchange & Teaching (JET) Program. The program was created in 1987 by the Japanese government, and is now run by three main ministries in the government: The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). However, the Council for Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) does a lot of the day-to-day work with JET. As of this year, the program now has an annual budget of about 45 billion yen, some US $400 million. I believe it is one of the largest programs of its kind in the world.
The stated goal of the program is "increase mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the people of other nations, to promote internationalisation in Japan's local communities by helping to improve foreign language education, and to develop international exchange at the community level." It aims to do this through a few positions, all of which require a slightly different skillset and varying levels of Japanese proficieny.
Myself, and 90% of other JETs, are Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), and we are at elementary, junior high, or senior high schools across Japan teaching English in the schools. We are either employed by the Prefectural Board of Education, or the Municipal Board of Education, myself the former. But the amount of work JETs have in the classroom is almost entirely dependent on the Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs) that they work with. Some JETs are used as true assistants and resources in the classrooms. In my case, because I have an education background, my teachers are letting me design the lessons and take the lead in the classroom. It's a lot more work than most JETs have, but it is very rewarding thus far.
The other position which takes up about 9% of JETs is the Coordinator for International Relations (CIRs). CIRs work at the Prefectural Board of Education or prefectural international offices. The bulk of their work is translating official documents, so the Japanese level they must have is very high. They also schedule and coordinate international events for the prefecture.
The last position is Sports Education Advisors (SEAs) they are few and far between and are the majority of the time coaches of sports at local sports clubs and schools. The JET Program seems very confused about what they want to do with SEAs, it is likely they will disappear entirely from the program, or at the very least it will no longer be something applicants apply for, and rather they will specially select good candidates for SEAs position from those that apply to the other two.
The program had a dip about 10 years ago, and was expected to be cut further in 2010 when Japan was undergoing governmental reforms as a response to the declining economy, but Prime Minister Abe seemed very determined to expand the program, and last year the program reached nearly 5,000 participants during the 2016 year (both new and senpai JETs). I am unaware of the numbers for the current year as of right now.
That's about all I have for now. I would like to make some comments on living in Japan and Japanese society, but perhaps they would be a little premature. I've only been here just over a month, so I still have a lot to learn. Hope somebody out there may have found this interesting. We may even have another former JET in WAIS.
JE comments: Congratulations to you, Noah! We send a JET or two from Adrian College each year, and I've heard nothing but good things about their experiences. I second Noah's question: are there any JET alums in WAISdom?
Keep in touch, Noah! Will you be in Japan for one year or two? Most JETs seem to "re-up" for a second year.