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On your marks! Get JET! Go!

by Shannon Stollenmaier, staff writer

Sushi, Toyota, Pokemon, Sumo wrestling, Mt. Fuji, samurai, kimonos. If any of these words sparked an interest, know that the JET can take you to where your curiosity will be satisfied, Japan.

The Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, sponsored by the Japanese government, is a student exchange program with a two-fold focus. First, the program seeks to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Secondly, JET concentrates on promoting international understanding of Japanese culture.



The program fosters exchange between Japanese youth and young professionals from the countries participating. Because of its two-part design, JET has two kinds of opportunities for qualified graduates.

First, graduates can apply to work as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in public elementary and secondary schools. Participants in these positions are engaged in language instruction assisting Japanese teachers of English. These participants must be interested in the Japanese education system, particularly in the way Japanese teach English, and interested in working with students.

Second, graduates can apply to work as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) in selected local government offices in Japan. Participants in these positions are engaged in internationalization activities: they assist with programs and planning dealing with cross-cultural awareness and understanding. These participants must be motivated to participate in and initiate international exchange activities in the local community to which they are assigned, and they must have a functional command of the Japanese language.

Participants in the JET program reside in Japan for one year and are expected to work an average of 35 hours a week. They receive a $33,000 salary (after Japanese income and resident taxes), a sufficient amount to cover living expenses in Japan.

According to the JET handbook, the JET program is a reputable curriculum that seeks outstanding students through a competitive application process. Applicants are chosen as representatives of their countries and are responsible for all their activities, especially those concerning the promotion of mutual understanding between nations. Applicants should be under 40 years old, in good mental and physical health, and have excellent English speaking skills.

The JET program began in 1987 and has hosted 6,226 participants from more than 40 countries. Applications are due December 5 and can be obtained at, by calling 1-800-INFO-JET, or by contacting the Hawai‘i Japanese consulate at 543-3126.

Editor’s note: We have asked Jayme Haitsuka, a local HPU graduate who is living and teaching in Japan, to send us dispatchs about her JET adventure. Watch for them in these pages.



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