Category Archives: Uncategorized

Backtrack #14: Ships, Towels & Mikans! (Michael Dziesinski, Imabari ALT 1997-2000)

MD Imabari JHS class

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

My name is Michael Dziesinski. I was an Ehime JET who was placed as an ALT in the city of Imabari from 1997 to 2000. Originally from the United States, I was accepted into the JET program during my final year as an Undergrad at Florida State University.

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Backtrack #13: The Most Inaka Place I Could Think Of (Bruce Baird, Matsuyama ALT 1992-1993)

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

My name is Bruce Baird. I was just about to graduate from college (Columbia University) and I was looking to get back to Japan because I wanted to practice and improve my Japanese for a year before I went to grad school in Japanese studies. I don’t recall how exactly I became aware of the JET program, but JET was known as an option for going back to Japan. Of course, I was aware that I would be teaching English to students, but I tried to think of the most inaka place i could think of, where most of the people wouIdn’t speak English, so I would have a lot of chances to practice my Japanese. I had been in Japan previously and had been to Kochi once, and really liked the dialect there. So, I applied to go to Kochi, but was placed in the Ehime Education Research Center located on the southern side of Matsuyama city.  The Educational Research Center was a place where school teachers could take a six month sabbatical to do further research on teaching techniques and part of my job was to assist with whatever research the English teachers were conducting. I wasn’t associated with a specific school, but I did have an assignment to go out to about seven schools mostly in the hill towns south of Matsuyama. Then one of the ALTs in Matsuyama got homesick (and quite frankly was having a huge case of cultural shock) and went home early, so I got an assignment to also go to all the high schools in Matsuyama.

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Backtrack #12: A Bigger Leap of Faith (Gary Haase, Matsuyama ALT 1996-1999)

Gary JET 81024_1

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

Greetings!  Thank you for reaching out.  I am Gary Haase.  I came to Japan in 1996 as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).  I was based at the Ehime Prefecture Educational Research Center in Matsuyama.  I also visited several high schools, such as Matsuyama Minami, Oda, Kamiukena, Matsuyama Minami Tobe Bunko, and Iyo.  I am from Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.  I ended up staying on JET for three years, which was the maximum placement time back then. 

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Backtrack #10: Beyond All Expectations (Meredith Boos, Uwajima SHS 2003-2005)

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When the cruise cancelled our family trip to China and Japan in 2020 there was much cursing, crying, and screaming. Then my 12-year-old daughter patted my shoulder and said, “Stop crying mom. Japan’s not going anywhere.”

Though impressed with my child’s maturity, I was ticked off. Sniffling, I thought of all the planning gone down the drain. But as I set the travel brochure on fire in the kitchen sink it hit me. I wasn’t using the lesson the JET Programme taught me – to be happy, expect only the unexpected.

It all started with blackmail and somehow got me through a pandemic.

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Backtrack #8: Another Home For Me (Joshua Aresty, Matsuyama ALT 2009-2011)

Joshar

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

My name is Joshua Aresty.  I’m from Boston, Massachussetts in the United States.  I was placed at Hojo high school in Ehime Japan from 2009 to 2011.  I went with my wife Tara Trent who was stationed at Matsuyama West middle and high school in Matsuyama.

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Backtrack #7: Earnestness, a bit of Naiveté, and a Sincere Interest in Japan (Nicole Uehara, Saijo ALT 1999-2002)

JET class

How did you find out about JET, and what led you to apply?

I heard about the JET Program during a college internship from a few employees who participated in the early years of the JET Program. As an international business major studying German and Japanese, I was interested in living overseas and a chance to hopefully improve my Japanese language skills. My Japanese ability was not the best (unsurprising since the foundation was built on freshman year intensive classes that started at 8:30 am). I thought that the best way I could improve my language skills would be by living and breathing Japanese every day. Having grown up as one of a handful of Asians in a rural town in upstate New York, I also wondered what it would feel like to live in a place where I would not be the face that stood out. After graduation I was wondering what to do next when I learned that the JET application window opened in the fall. I filled out the paper application I received from the Embassy of Japan on a typewriter and bought my first professional business suit the day before the interview. Back in 1999 there wasn’t a Reddit forum or YouTube videos to explain in detail how to ace the JET interview, so all I had was earnestness, a bit of naiveté, and a sincere interest in Japan.

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The Sea, The Iwa & The Classroom

By Patrick Peh

Prologue

Not long after my arrival in Baishinji, I decided that it would be a tremendous waste not to write something about it. This place is not only rich in heritage, but also representative of a coastal suburban area close to the city. The reason it took so long for me to produce this piece of writing is because I wanted to do the Nakajima article first (Into the Seto Naikai). It was also because I was spending a lot of time refining lesson ideas (maybe I’ll do an article on the way I refine my lesson ideas as well), and editing previous drafts of this post.

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