Jet Journal 2007 - Miyazaki 60 Article

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<ul><li><p>The JET Journal 2007</p><p>1 </p><p>The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007</p><p> 2 </p><p>Foreword </p><p>The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme enters its 21st year of working towards foreign language </p><p>education and local-level internationalisation in Japan. </p><p>In its first year, the JET Programme welcomed to Japan 848 participants from four countries: the United </p><p>States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. From these humble beginnings the Programme has </p><p>continually grown and has hosted over 46,000 participants from 54 countries to date. </p><p>This JET Journal is a collection of essays, poems and photographs from JET participants who share their </p><p>experiences on the Programme with us. These participants are living amid various thoughts and feelings while </p><p>in this never-before-experienced environment and culture of Japan. Their submissions provide a unique and </p><p>lively perspective on the everyday aspects of Japanese life and speak of the hopes and anxieties that they bring </p><p>with them to Japan, and of how while negotiating the bewildering landscape they also learn about themselves. </p><p>This year submissions were accepted not only from current and former JET participants but were expanded to </p><p>include Japanese teachers and students, indeed all those touched the Programme. We hope this change allows </p><p>the Journal to broaden the scope of grassroots internationalisation and understanding between JETs and those </p><p>around them. </p><p>Finally, I would like to personally thank each individual who submitted to the JET Journal, and wish you a </p><p>truly wonderful year. </p><p>Michihiro Kayama </p><p>Chairman of the Board of Directors, CLAIR </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007 </p><p> 3 </p><p>Message From the Editors </p><p>We would like to say a warm and sincere thank you to all those who took the time and effort to contribute to </p><p>the JET Journal. </p><p>We think of journals as travel diaries, and this JET Journal is just that: a record of JETs and those around </p><p>them on a journey, traveling from far around the world, all across Japan and deep within themselves. The </p><p>essays, stories and images they share allow a glimpse of the many different faces of Japan and of JET. To see </p><p>the impact the JET Programme has made on both the hosts and the participants one need look no further than </p><p>these pages, and any reader is sure to agree that the efforts of the JET Programme are well worth it. </p><p>This year we open a new chapter with the 2007 edition of the JET Journal. The JET Programmes </p><p>continuing efforts to advance English language education and local-level internationalisation have led to a small </p><p>but significant change: we have expanded the Journal to allow for submissions not only from current and </p><p>former JET Programme participants, but also from any person who has made a personal connection through the </p><p>efforts of JETs. </p><p>For us, although it is unfortunate that we are unable to include all submissions, it was a pleasure reading and </p><p>seeing each of them and again we thank all contributors. </p><p>We hope you join us in our travels in internationalisation, and, above all, that you enjoy the trip! </p><p>Co-Editor / Cover Co-Editor </p><p>David Gotsill Koki Kimoto </p><p>Programme Coordinator Assistant Manager </p><p>CLAIR Tokyo CLAIR Tokyo </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007</p><p>Essay Contest Winners 194 </p><p>Honourary Mention </p><p>Meet the Author </p><p>In July of 2003, I set off from Phoenix, Arizona for the small town of Yamanokuchi in </p><p>Miyazaki Prefecture. This quaint rural community, of just over 7,000, welcomed me </p><p>immediately as a member of their extended family. I will always be grateful for their </p><p>friendship and the memories we have shared. </p><p>This essay is dedicated to the people of Miyazaki who were willing to take a chance </p><p>and put their faith in a group of young people with a vision of giving back. </p><p>Particularly, I would like to thank Mr. Matsuno of Matsuno Supermarkets who </p><p>believed in me and the dream of Miyazaki 60. Along with the inspiration of Cary </p><p>Reid, the brilliant mind of Fukumi Yuda, and the unwavering support of the Miyazaki </p><p>JETs, we were able to pay it forward. </p><p>We hope that the next generation of JETs will be inspired by our story to find their </p><p>own way to create scholarship programs in their prefectures. Be a part of helping </p><p>your students experience the dream of living abroad just as we have. Good luck! </p><p>Pay It Forward Patrick Bellew </p><p>Former ALT, Miyazaki Prefecture </p><p>Pay It Forward yeah, you remember ... that movie </p><p>a few years back with the little kid from The 6th </p><p>Sense. In case you missed it, the movie is about a </p><p>young boy who has to think of something to change </p><p>the world as an assignment for his social studies class. </p><p>This is quite a daunting task for anyone, let alone a </p><p>12-year old boy. He develops a theory of paying a </p><p>favor not back, but forward. This way you can </p><p>continue to spread good deeds to three new people, </p><p>who will in turn do the same. Like most others who </p><p>saw the movie in the theaters, I thought to myself, </p><p>Wow, what a simple, yet novel concept. What a </p><p>wonderful world we would have if we all lived our </p><p>lives by this doctrine. Unfortunately, even a </p><p>powerful and simple idea like this can get lost in the </p><p>rush of our daily lives. </p><p>Anyone who has been fortunate enough to be selected </p><p>for the JET Program certainly has a list of people to </p><p>be thankful to and favors to pay forward. My three </p><p>years spent living in Japan gave me the opportunity </p><p>to travel, learn a new language, and make friends </p><p>from all over the world. But more importantly, it </p><p>gave me the chance to challenge myself, become part </p><p>of the community, connect with my students, and </p><p>truly get to know a culture and a nation in a way that </p><p>no ordinary traveler could ever experience. This </p><p>unique opportunity is a priceless gift that we have </p><p>been given by the people of Japan. The question is: </p><p>how do we pay back something that is priceless? </p><p>Moreover, how do you pay it forward? It took me </p><p>over 2 years to find my answer to these questions; </p><p>fortunately, I found the support of a tremendous JET </p><p>community to help me take action. </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007 </p><p>Essay Contest Winners 195</p><p>Internationalization </p><p>Why did you choose Japan? It is a question that </p><p>every JET must answer an innumerable amount of </p><p>times. Personally, I chose Japan because it seemed </p><p>like the furthest thing from American culture that I </p><p>could imagine. Having the chance to study abroad </p><p>in Australia as a junior in college was great; however, </p><p>in many ways it seemed like California with a big </p><p>accent. I learned to surf, saw a kangaroo for the </p><p>first time, and gained an appreciation for a different </p><p>culture but, it didnt challenge me to break out of my </p><p>comfort zone. I wanted to be dropped into a </p><p>completely different world and learn how to survive. </p><p>What better place than a country that prides itself on </p><p>the uniqueness of its culture and language? </p><p>One of the aspects that initially attracted me to the </p><p>JET Program was its emphasis on grassroots </p><p>internationalization. Unlike private English </p><p>schools, which focus mainly on profit, the main </p><p>purpose of JET is to promote a mutual exchange and </p><p>respect of cultures on the community level. Senator </p><p>William Fulbright founded his renowned Fulbright </p><p>Program with similar goals in mind. He once wrote </p><p>that by promoting study abroad and an exchange of </p><p>culture, we could "bring a little more knowledge, a </p><p>little more reason, and a little more compassion into </p><p>world affairs and thereby increase the chance that </p><p>nations will learn at last to live in peace and </p><p>friendship". I cant help but wonder how different </p><p>the world would be if the political leaders of every </p><p>nation had a chance to experience what I have on the </p><p>JET Program. Even the most powerful politicians </p><p>were elementary school students at one point. The </p><p>influence of teachers they had and foreign friends </p><p>they made as children most certainly impact the type </p><p>of decisions they make as adults. </p><p>New Friends </p><p>In spring of 2004, I met a group of Japanese students </p><p>that would forever impact my life and way of </p><p>thinking. My friends and I had been driving around </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007</p><p>Essay Contest Winners 196 </p><p>that afternoon for what seemed like hours. Looking </p><p>for a park to get a pickup game of basketball was no </p><p>easy task in Japan. We stumbled upon a university </p><p>perched on the hillside. Surely there will be a team </p><p>practicing on the weekend, we thought. </p><p>Like in a vivid dream, I can still remember the </p><p>moment we first peered into the dimly lit gymnasium </p><p>of Miyazaki International College (MIC). From a </p><p>distance, the faint sound of bouncing basketballs </p><p>assured us that we were in the right place. Kenta </p><p>Imanishi, a senior and captain of the MIC basketball </p><p>team, was the first person we met. With limited </p><p>Japanese, we struggled to introduce ourselves and ask </p><p>politely for a pickup game. To our surprise, we </p><p>were met with almost flawless English from our </p><p>newfound friend. No problem, come on in, said </p><p>Kenta. With the help of Kenta and the MIC Dean, </p><p>we were able to schedule regular practices and games </p><p>with the university students. We came to realize </p><p>that these were no typical Japanese college students. </p><p>As a requirement of their degree, each of them had </p><p>spent time living abroad and studying, some for as </p><p>long as 2 years. What great role models for the </p><p>younger generation of Miyazaki, I thought. If only </p><p>my students could see how speaking English and </p><p>having the experience of study abroad can change </p><p>you. It forced me to think about my role as an ALT </p><p>and what I could do to help give my students the </p><p>same opportunity. </p><p>Responsibility </p><p>What does it mean to be a JET? For some, it </p><p>means a chance to explore the world and figure out </p><p>what they were meant to do with their lives. For </p><p>others, it means a chance to repay their student loans </p><p>in a relatively short amount of time. Being a JET </p><p>means many things to different people, but it is </p><p>important for all of us to realize that it is as much an </p><p>opportunity as it is a responsibility. That </p><p>responsibility extends far beyond the classroom and </p><p>the workplace. This is a duty that we share, not </p><p>simply as English teachers, but as diplomats </p><p>representing our countries. Many JETs perform </p><p>community service, assist with school club activities, </p><p>or volunteer to teach community English classes. </p><p>It was late November 2005 when I realized how I </p><p>could fulfill my duty to pay it forward. What started </p><p>with a phone call from my good friend, Cary Reid, </p><p>would develop into a powerful movement of change </p><p>in our JET community. Together we developed the </p><p>idea for a monumental event that would bring </p><p>nationwide attention to our prefecture and give the </p><p>JETs of Miyazaki a unifying purpose. </p><p>First Steps </p><p>I think it was Sunday morning that I first asked </p><p>someone what day it was. I had just awoken to the </p><p>alarm of my cell phone. I lay there for a moment in </p><p>that dark room, but couldnt quite move my body to </p><p>turn it off, let alone open my eyes wide enough to see </p><p>the alarm. It is difficult to describe, but somehow </p><p>the days since Friday had begun to blur together. </p><p>The only time I could grasp was the start and finish </p><p>of my next shift. Its Sunday morning. </p><p>3:45am . . . and youre up in 15 minutes, said the </p><p>voice over the distant cheers of the crowd. Yes, it </p><p>was 3:45 in the morning, and it was time to play </p><p>some ball. My team had officially been playing one </p><p>continuous basketball game for almost 44 hours. </p><p>Each of us was battling exhaustion, injuries, and our </p><p>own will power, but we were enjoying every minute </p><p>of it. </p><p>Months later, the August 2006 CLAIR News bulletin </p><p>would publish a summary of our event: </p><p>Miyazaki Prefecture JETs Set Guinness World </p><p>Record </p><p>A group of Miyazaki Prefecture JETs, cooperating </p><p>with local university students, broke a Guinness </p><p>World Record by playing a 60 hour basketball </p><p>game. The game, dubbed Miyazaki 60, began at </p><p>8 am on June 16th, and finished at 8 pm on June </p><p>18th. The JET organizers aimed to promote </p><p>grass-roots internationalization, and also hope to </p><p>use the proceeds to establish a scholarship fund to </p><p>send high school students to study abroad. CLAIR </p><p>would like to congratulate the JETs involved, and </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007 </p><p>Essay Contest Winners 197</p><p>is very proud of their efforts, which embody the </p><p>spirit of the JET Programme. 24 players, including </p><p>7 ALTs, participated in the game. Over 90 </p><p>volunteers were involved in the planning and </p><p>fundraising for the event, which was touted by </p><p>local and national media. </p><p>CLAIR News; Vol XX, Issue 1. August 2006 </p><p>We began the Miyazaki 60 project by assembling a </p><p>group of JET participants and Japanese college </p><p>students. Almost all of our committee members had </p><p>benefited from the unique opportunity to live abroad </p><p>and experience a different culture. We felt proud to </p><p>be able to challenge this record with our close friends </p><p>from Miyazaki International College. These </p><p>students serve as a unique symbol of </p><p>internationalization within Miyazaki. The success </p><p>of the MIC students provides a constant reminder to </p><p>the younger generation of the value in cultural </p><p>exchange. </p><p>As English teachers we are constantly telling our </p><p>students that the best way to learn a foreign language </p><p>is to study abroad. We want them to travel, meet </p><p>foreigners, and immerse themselves like we have in a </p><p>foreign culture. However, for many of our students, </p><p>particularly in predominately rural prefectures, this </p><p>opportunity does not exist because of financial </p><p>constraints. We would like to take the responsibility </p><p>of not only telling our students to study abroad, but </p><p>also providing the financial support to make that </p><p>dream a reality. </p><p>In creating the world record Miyazaki 60 Basketball </p><p>Marathon and establishing a groundbreaking </p><p>scholarship program, the JET participants of </p><p>Miyazaki found a way to not only repay a favor to the </p><p>nation of Japan, but also to pay it forward to our </p><p>students, whose lives will be changed forever. And </p><p>that is what the JET Program is all about: changing </p><p>the world. </p><p>Author Ken Kersey once wrote, You can count how </p><p>many seeds are in the apple, but you cant count how </p><p>many apples are in the seed. The Miyazaki JET </p><p>community is optimistic that their efforts have </p><p>planted a seed of change in the JET Program. It is </p><p>our greatest hope that one day, JET communities in </p><p>every prefecture throughout Japan will have </p><p>established their own scholarship program to help </p><p>send Japanese students abroad. </p><p>If you are reading this essay, it has been published. </p><p>This means that more people, like you, who can make </p><p>a difference, know our story. It also means that one </p><p>more student from Miyazaki is closer to having an </p><p>enriching cultural exchange experience through the </p><p>Miyazaki 60 scholarship fund. </p><p>To all those reading this essay and considering </p><p>spending a year or two on the JET Program, get ready </p><p>for a life changing experience. But more importantly, </p><p>BE ready for your chance to pay it forward. </p></li><li><p>The JET Journal 2007</p><p>Essay Contest Wi...</p></li></ul>