Unbeaten Paths: Chuyo 2021 (Actually Here Edition)

Edited by Jordan Rocke

Welcome back, everyone! Here’s part 2, looking at the closest thing you’ll find to a city in Ehime: Chuyo. As with last time, you can find a decent number of 2021 Chuyo JET intros in our previous Chuyo installment, located here. If you’re in the mood for more intros after this, check out our previous installment from Toyo, located here. Now here’s the intros!

Prefectural:

Gizelle Alvarez-Janzso (Tohon)

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Hey, fellow Ehime JETs! My name is Gizelle and I`m from Toronto, Canada. I was a 2019/2020 JET applicant (we all know how that went). After a long wait, I am so happy to finally be in Japan! 

In March 2020, after 6 long years, I graduated with a BA in French and English Studies along with a Bachelor of Education and a certificate in the Discipline to Teach English as an International Language (D-TEIL). I am a certified teacher back home with qualifications to teach junior kindergarten to grade 12~ but I enjoy teaching elementary school students the most (~the little cuties ❛ᴗ❛). 

I love teaching and despite the plethora of systemic issues in the profession, I find it so rewarding- the kids really make it all worth it (most of the time heh heh). My other passion is learning about other cultures, namely through language learning and travelling. Not only does it bring me joy, but it plays a hand in developing my cross-cultural awareness. This is especially handy in my role as a teacher, as getting to know my students and community building in the classroom are both incredibly important to me. Considering that Canada and more particularly, Toronto, is such a multicultural place, I find I am able to better connect with and understand fellow Canadians through language and being more culturally aware. As a foodie, I also enjoy how food really ties it all together. I will always remember what a colleague told me about his experience learning to speak French in France: “I`d go to a bar or restaurant, sit next to someone, ‘prends une bière à la main’ (take a beer in hand) and the words would just flow out”. Immersing yourself in all aspects of a culture, the food, the language, the people– that`s learning at it`s finest. 

And SO, that’s what brought me here! Why Japan in particular? Like so many of you, Japanese popular culture definitely had a hand in my choice to participate in JET. From learning and fantasizing about the landscape and role of nature through Ghibli films, the cultural philosophies through anime and other art forms and the history and traditions through video games like The Legend of Zelda (Majora’s Mask is my #1) and Okami, my interest peaked. For. SURE.

Other fun facts about me: I love cats (and animals in general but especially cats)- I have one named Tobi, he’s white and orange. I love gaming! Dota 2 is currently my favourite online multiplayer game but I also adore the Mass Effect games. I love anime & manga~ too many to name! I also really like horror movies. I recently started enjoying mushy KDramas, too. Music is life- The Weeknd, System of a Down, Micheal Bublé and Paramore are some of my faves. Like I said, I’m a total foodie and love cooking and baking~ please share recipes with me! I’m also always down to try new restaurants. I speak French and English- I’m decent at Spanish but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent. I got married last August (2020), my husband’s name is Alvaro and he’s from Ecuador, originally. I’m 25. Aaaaaaand I’m half Filipino, half Hungarian! Can’t wait to enjoy this adventure with all of you!

Abbie Sadler (Matsuyama)

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Hello, I am Abbie Sadler from the Yorkshire, UK.

Traveling is something I have always enjoyed and I always knew I would one day live abroad. A few years back I traveled from Sapporo to Hiroshima for a month and it made me want to experience living in Japan. As well as traveling I enjoy all things myths and legends, films and anime and manga. The love for these hobbies are defiantly going to grow throughout my time living in Japan.

Now I am starting my life in Matsuyama, Japan and I am excited to explore Shikoku. I am excited to hike in the mountains and try to take part in some of the Shikoku pilgrimage. I am equally excited to develop my skills as a teacher and work with the amazing young adults in my school. Making new connections and having new experiences is something that will have such a positive impact on this exciting experience!

Jynelle LaPointe (Matsuyama SEA)

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Hi my name is Jynelle. I arrived in Matsuyama like many others after waiting excited to teach in Japan for over a year! I came here with my accomplice Kyrod. We have been together for 25 years and both love Japan! We are from the Santa Cruz Mountain Foothills in California, a very beautiful place with incredible natural diversity, intense oceans and a human culture that is both laid back and high-speed, not unlike our new home Ehime. I am also the new SEA and my specialty is Recurve Archery. My friends and family and I really enjoy archery together and are lucky enough to have one of the most Lord of the Rings like archery courses on the planet. It’s free and open all day and you can just wander in the forest shooting targets at all kinds of distances and heights in a beautiful setting loaded with oaks, redwood trees and wildlife. I have always loved Japan and my visit there a few years back confirmed for me a #1 spot on my bucket list to live here at least once. There’s so much to learn from the culture and the educational system and I’m so excited to be here experiencing the Matsuyama ecosystem. 

Back home I am primarily a science teacher for grades K through 12. I teach outdoor science, archery, ethnobotany, theoretical physics, wild craft and the creative arts. Being hired by JET couldn’t have been better timing as I was really looking for a change of scenery for a little while. It also came with the incredible opportunity to instruct a team of girls devoted to Olympic style target archery. My home archery community including students is made up mostly of hunters and field archers which gives me little opportunity to instruct intermediate target archers devoted to long distance target archery. As a non-hunting vegetarian, certified in the American National Training System for Olympic archery, it is something I’ve always wanted to coach and spend more time with. I am fortunate to be able to work alongside an excellent and devoted Japanese coach who has spent an incredible amount of time researching this style of archery and building his archery program at my high school from scratch. 

My hobbies include hiking, bicycling, gardening, skateboarding, playing music, RPGs, reading, martial arts, drawing comics and just doing maker stuff. My interests and fandoms are all over the place but I love Japanese storytelling including anime and manga. I am a big fan of Avatar The Last Airbender, Star Trek, Star Wars, Kipo, Harry Potter, Sci-fi and Comedy. I look forward to meeting all of my fellow JETs and getting to geek out with you all. 

Eric Gomez (Matsuyama)

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Hello everyone! My name is Eric Gomez and I’m from the US. I’ve lived my whole life in the city of San Diego, California. I’m a second generation Mexican American. My mother is also Mexican American and my dad is from Mexico. I have an older brother and two younger sisters. Back home I left three dogs and a cat. They are two chihuahuas and a lab mix. My hobbies include building PCs and running outdoors.  I love Mexican food. Since I’m Mexican I grew up eating it every day. I’m currently living in Matsuyama which I found to be a lovely place so far. I’ve been in Japan for about two months.

I made a small PC before coming to Japan to bring with me. The specs of my computer are: ryzen 5600x, ASUS ROG Strix X570-I, Sliger SM580 case, G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB), Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 chromax.Black, Low-Profile CPU Cooler, Noctua NF-A14 PWM chromax.Black.swap, Premium Quiet Fan, 4-Pin (140mm, Black) x4, Corsair SF Series, SF750, 750 Watt, SFX, 80+ Platinum Certified, Fully Modular Power Supply, SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB, Western Digital 1TB WD Blue, Ducky One 2 Mini RGB 60%, Glorious Model D mouse. Zotac RTX 2080ti, Windows 10 Pro, and ASUS TUF Gaming 27″ 2K HDR Gaming Monitor (left at home). I decided to build the computer when the parts were at their highest price. I don’t think prices have gone down by much. I play mainly single player games. Before coming to Japan I was really into Escape from Tarkov. The PC is currently being used to watch TV shows like Doom Patrol, Narcos Mexico, South Park and others. The schools I’m currently teaching at are Matsuyama Higashi and Iyo High School. Both schools have great students and friendly staff. I was surprised when I heard that I was going to be placed in a high school. In my application I put down elementary school as my preference. The reason I was surprised was because I graduated from college with a B.A. in elementary education. Even If I didn’t get my preference it will still be a great experience that I can use when I go back home.

I found out about the JET program through a YouTuber in 2015. It caught my attention and I started to do some research on the program. In 2015, I was going through a change in majors at my university. I went from majoring in criminal justice to elementary education. This transition happened because I couldn’t handle the work that Forensic Technicians did. I have a very weak stomach so I decided to drop it. I had a hard time deciding what to do next. My younger sister was the one who suggested that I should look into becoming a teacher. The requirements for the major would have me postponing graduation for an additional two years. It was a tough decision but I decided to go ahead with the education major. In the end it all worked out. My senior year at SDSU I applied to the JET program in 2019. The day before the interview I had a terrible allergic reaction to raspberries. With little to no sleep I headed towards LA which was a two hour drive. After the interview I felt relieved that it was finished but felt like I did terrible. I did not get shortlisted but was placed on the alternate list. Then COVID hit. It wasn’t until the end of November that I got an email about being upgraded. The pure joy that I experienced when I read the email can’t be explained in words. Departure day was set to be in April 2021 but the day came without any notice from the consulate. I heard back from them that the departure date was postponed until further notice. It was not until the end of July that I heard that the departure date was on September 25, 2021. I couldn’t believe my eyes but I was going to depart for Japan on my birthday. Anyways, the day came for departure and here I am.

Miya Jia (Matsuyama CIR)

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Don’t we look alike?

Hi there! My name is Miya, and I’m from Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been working as a CIR in Matsuyama for the Ehime Prefectural Office and Ehime Prefectural International Center (EPIC) since October of this year! Originally, I was scheduled to come to Japan in September 2020, and while it seemed fate had other plans, I’m finally here after a long year of waiting.

Like many, I first found my way to Japan through its pop culture, namely anime and manga. I had stumbled upon it at my local public library—where as an avid reader I frequented and explored often—in their “Graphic Novels” section. Not only had reading manga piqued my interest in illustration, but also learning more about Japanese language and culture. So, starting from my first year in high school, I began my Japanese studies.

I’ve known about JET ever since then. It was just something my Japanese teacher brought up as a possible post-college experience. At the time, I was only 14 and could barely introduce myself in Japanese, let alone think about working in Japan. Surprisingly enough, I would go on to pursue Japanese in my undergraduate studies as well, and even further as a JET participant. In 2020, I graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in Asian Languages and Cultures, and International Studies, and became a successful candidate for the JET Program.

Overall, I’m very excited to finally be here after what seems like an eternity of anxious waiting. This is my first time to Shikoku (I had only been to Hiroshima and Tokyo before), and I will be sure to explore as much as I can of my new home!

Please feel free to email me (mjia.ehime@gmail.com) anytime! I’m particularly interested in digital illustration, video games (currently playing a lot of VALORANT and Genshin Impact, but I especially love all of the Kirby games), anime/manga (my favorite series is Chihayafuru), VOCALOID, and Japanese voice actors, if that convinces anyone to reach out (lol)! Don’t be a stranger! 😊

Iyo City:

Christopher Quevedo

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Hola! My name is Christopher and I’m from Texas. I’ll be moving to Iyo to teach elementary and junior high school. 

I studied international security and diplomacy, as well as Japanese, at the University of North Texas. Although I studied Japanese politics and foreign policy, my interest in Japan began after marching drum corps back in 2016. Drum Corps International, or DCI for short, is essentially a high-level marching competition that takes place across the United States during the Summer season. My corps at the time, the Boston Crusaders, had members from all over the world, notably from the UK, Japan, and the Netherlands. It was through this music activity that I was able to make friends from Japan and learn a little bit about their culture and history. I have been to Japan five times since, including a semester at Nanzan Daigaku in Nagoya! 

In my free time, I love to read non-fiction, listen to music, drum, eat too much ice cream, and go on walks so that I can burn off some of the ice cream. My favorite band is Gesu no Kiwami Otome, and my favorite food is miso-katsu from Nagoya. If you have any good music suggestions, I’d love to hear them! My goal is to become fluent in Japanese, get my masters degree in international relations, and someday join the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. If anyone else is wanting to join the Foreign Service, or has already entered the State Department, reach out! I would love to make those kinds of connections. 

Naturally, I learned about the JET program from my Japanese professors and was immediately interested. My drumming mentors had played a big part in my life and after teaching marching percussion at the high school level, and English to refugee families, I grew to enjoy teaching in general. I felt that the JET Program would be the perfect opportunity to travel, teach, and improve my Japanese. I am more than excited to finally live my dream of working abroad, by the ocean and mountains no less!

Miya Kuo

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Kia ora, everyone! My name is Miya and I’m a new ALT in Iyo City.

I was born in Taiwan and moved to New Zealand when I was a kid. As a Taiwanese kid, I was heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Japanese culture was everywhere in Taiwan. I grew up watching the same anime that an average Japanese kid would watch after school (although, in Mandarin). Crayon Shin-chan, Doraemon, Mermaid Melody and Atashinchi, just to name a few. We even had a few Japanese channels playing primetime Japanese variety shows.

My love for Japanese culture is deeply embedded in these childhood memories.

Embarrassingly (at the time at least), this continued into my adolescent years in New Zealand. I even extended into Jpop.  While Harry Styles stole every girl’s heart, Arashi, a Jpop group, had stolen mine. Arashi was my biggest motivation to learn Japanese (you know, just in case I bumped into them some day.) Somewhere along the line, though, I had genuinely become interested in working in Japan in the future (and not just to bump into Arashi). In my last year of high school, a Japanese major was all I had in mind for University.

In 2020, I was accepted as an exchange student to Waseda University. However, due to the pandemic (surprise, surprise), it was delayed (twice). Eventually, the whole exchange was called off. I was absolutely devastated.

Soon after, I applied to the JET programme. I had decided it was going to be my last attempt in chasing this dream. Just in case, I had a whole other life planned out. I did a CELTA course and looked into becoming a primary (elementary) school teacher.

Fortunately, this time, my dream came true.

Now that I’m here, I’ve been enjoying every second. Riding a bicycle to school is exciting. Working with the JTE is exciting. Eating school lunch is exciting. Being outrun by an eight year old is exciting. Even stopping by the local supermarket is exciting.

I can’t wait to see what else this adventure has in store for me!

Matsuyama City:

Joy Marie Salgado

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Mabuhay from the Philippines! When we meet, you may be surprised to know that I am one of the older ALTs who started with JET, a bit later than the majority. Eight years after graduating from the university, I felt secure in staying in the busy city of Pasig with only a few visits to the areas of Manila, San Juan, and Makati. For years, I endured hours of staying in heavy traffic just to get to and from work, until 2020 hit.

Life was on hold, yet every day seemed as if I was running out of it. Every task I did seemed more exhausting than the previous one. However, I felt at ease being in a quiet space at home. This got me scared that after being stuck in almost two years of lockdown, I realized that there were a lot of plans and dreams that I chose to let go just for the sake of being in my comfort zone. This got me thinking of a line from one of my favorite writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that says “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” I was starting to grow older, and faster than usual.

It had been years since I first learned about the JET Programme. I did not have the confidence that I would make the cut if ever I tried applying for the ALT role. Yes, I used to have such a grim perspective on things. I am happy to say that I grew out of it (or I am slowly, gradually overcoming such a mindset).

Now, I am in Japan as part of the 2021 batch. Even with very little knowledge (and confidence) in speaking the Japanese language, I feel at ease. I am finally living one of the dreams I once tried to forget. Also, I am grateful that I got here with some experience already as those helped prepare me for the challenges of living in a foreign land. Plus, I am meeting new and interesting individuals who are willing to help and spend some time together to make sense of the various events happening within and outside the JET ALT role. There are still a lot of other people to meet, yet I think that I will have ample time to do so as I try to navigate through this new phase in my life. I may not be the ever-energetic ALT that you are picturing right now for the role, yet I am willing to open up and enjoy the company of others.

On weekdays, you may find me trying to survive the cold weather of Japan in the faculty room of Kume Elementary School or Kubota Elementary School. Honestly, I am starting to miss the warm weather of the Philippines; but everything is still well. Most of the time, however, I simply am a homebody who enjoys cooking random recipes, reading a book (or two, as I cannot finish one right away), cleaning my apartment, or simply making a one-activity plan for a weekend. Perhaps, you may also catch me pausing on the side of the road randomly staring at the sky or other objects. Don’t worry, I am simply enjoying the view and contemplating whether to take a photo of the moment or not. Though, do not hesitate to reach out or say hi. There are still a lot of places to explore and fall in love with around Matsuyama and the rest of the Ehime prefecture.

Pengxue Vang

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Hi everyone!  I’m Peng, a 2020/2021 ALT currently working at Hojo Kita ChuuGakkou and Hojo ShouGakkou in Matsuyama.  I just started in October 2021 so I’m still a fresh face here.  I’m from Wisconsin in the US and am from Hmong descent.

I graduated from the University of Milwaukee – Wisconsin where I double majored in Computer Science and Japanese.  Computer Science is a boring one so let’s talk about Japanese.  Being an Hmong American, I had been always very aware of cultural differences between me and other people.  These differences fascinated me as a child and made me want to learn the nuance between each culture.  As a result, I found myself deeply engrossed in various Asian cultures.  I found myself embracing media from China, Korea, Thailand and all manner of countries.  What had really gripped me about Japan was a video game titled, “Samurai Warriors.”  This game romanticized the Sengoku period of Japan and really piqued my interest.  As a result, I began looking into this time period which led me down the path of researching Japan as a whole.  At first, I only took Japanese courses in college to keep me sane as I pushed through the horror that is Computer Science.  However, at the rate I was going, I might as well just do the Japanese major, so I did.

During this period, I had taken a year to study abroad at Seijo University in Setagaya, Tokyo.  Living in Japan for a year was truly an eye opening moment as it either validated or removed my thoughts on Japanese culture and country.  I took various Japanese language and culture courses over this time and this was an experience that I can say taught me a lot.  It had been the first time I was truly away from family and friends.  I learned so much about myself as well as Japan itself.  I truly thought that would be the end of my Japanese adventure.  But, here I am.

I have many hobbies I’m interested in but none that I’m particularly good at.  Yet, I like to indulge myself in the arts whether that be drawing, photography or music.  I’ve also found myself enjoying cooking quite a bit, although I don’t exactly follow any recipes.  Then there’s always the video games.  I am an avid gamer even though I’ve been trying to control the hours I will dump into a game.  The most important hobby I hold is my interest in culture.  I love cultural exchange and learning about someone else’s culture as I am deeply intertwined with my own.  I look forward to meeting people from all around the globe!  Also, subscribe please.

Jessica Lowe-Mbirimi

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Hello, my name is Jessica and I am an incoming ALT to Matsuyama from London. My family are originally from Jamaica and Zimbabwe but I was born and raised in East London. Growing up in a city known for being an amazing melting pot, I have always been curious about society, culture, and people. Japan has always interested me as I have an appreciation for language, food and art. I enjoy cooking Vegan food (not vegan but I like experimenting), Caribbean and Japanese food as well as baking cakes and desserts. I am not particularly sports inclined but I enjoy hiking and music.

I have known about the JET programme for years now and always wanted to apply after postgraduate studies. I had the opportunity to live in Japan when I was in university studying a BA in Social Anthropology with a minor in Museum Studies. I spent my third year living in Hirakata on the Asian Studies programme at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka. Whilst in Osaka, I taught a few English lessons at my local community centre and really enjoyed it. I then went to Jamaica for a few weeks to conclude the research for my bachelor’s thesis was about Reggae and Dancehall music in the Kansai region. I honestly had the best year of my life, one that I would never forget. I also managed to solo travel to South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

I returned to my home university full of ideas and mentored some of the Japanese exchange students in the Japan society, as well as establishing and sitting on the committee of the Southern African Society for exchange students from across Southern Africa and the UK. I went for the JET interview and got the role in March 2020 not long after finishing my MA in African Studies with Heritage. My thesis was about Contemporary Nigerian Art as I have a love for non-western and diaspora art. I am always down to talk about art or go to a gallery to see an exhibition or show. I have had an interesting year during the pandemic working as a freelance curator and acquisitions assistant in an arts organisation. Although I have been lucky enough to busy myself with gallery trips, studio visits, writing a publication and publishing a paper I have been building excitement about moving to Matsuyama. I look forward to this new chapter and all the memories that will be made!

Danielle Mills

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Hey there! I’m Danielle, hailing from the picturesque island of Barbados, best known for our stunning beaches, high quality rum, memorable Summer festival and, in more recent years, as the birthplace of entertainer/newly minted billionaire, Rihanna.

The product and descendant of generations from Africa as well as the Native Kalinago Indians of Dominica, I’ve a deep-rooted love of delicious food, dance, culture and music, as well as a strong sense of wanderlust. The latter of these has taken me to the likes of the U.S, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean island chain, Indonesia and most recently China, where I spent almost 2 years teaching English.

I’m a ‘silver lining’ kinda gyal; I’d say my ability to adapt and adjust my perspective has served me well and so some of the things I’ll be bringing to the JET Programme include creativity, an open mind, and of course that ‘flavour’ islanders are known for having.

I hope to learn even more than I’m able to teach and would like to leave my students reassured and confident in their English ability (and in general), with a healthy respect and appreciation for cultures different from their own and the knowledge that the world is their oyster. Second only to this is my hope to foster long-standing connections with the wonderful people I’ll inevitably meet.

I prefer to spend my free time practicing yoga at the beach, unwinding to various music genres, or having easy conversation/comfortable silence over food and drinks with good people.

I’m excited to begin this new adventure and look forward to the blessings & lessons I’ll experience along the way. See ya soon!

William Hsu

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I’m bummed out about not being able to go to Tokyo, but it’s more about the people that you meet in the community rather than the placement. I love all the people I’ve met in Matsuyama (except for one) and they have made this experience much more enjoyable. I was really surprised by the amount of support and love I have received from the JET community. And I am glad to be placed in Matsuyama so I can meet all the wonderful ALTs.

I joined the program for the purposes of changing my life and discovering my own self. Although it’s a long journey, I am slowly being able to understand myself a little and be able to develop the personality that I want. 

I have to admit; although I have great insights and discoveries about myself after moving to Japan, it also comes with some pessimistic thoughts. But life is about adapting and accepting the truth, even though it may be harsh and unforgiving. 

Sorry, what was I talking about? 

Oh Yeah, Japan. 

Japan’s good, Japan’s fun, and I will never regret my decision to come here. Working in Japan has validated some of my thoughts, both positive and negative. But most importantly it allows me to be more independent, more mature (I think) and more accepting. 

Welcome to Ehime. It may not be the placement you were looking for but I am sure you will have great experiences with the JET community and your workplace (I hope).

Also this is a very important PSA announcement, please remember this acronym:  HIB 

Ham is Bacon.

Nicole Bak

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Hello everyone,

My name is Nicole Bak (but I go by Nikki) and I’m currently residing in Matsuyama. I’m from the suburbs around Toronto, Canada. Despite being born and raised in Canada, my background is Polish; I’m a second generation Polak. I have a BA in Child & Youth Studies and a BEd, teaching younger kids (Grades 1-6). I’m sure that it’s a dime a dozen when I say that anime is what began my interest in Japanese culture, and I can proudly say that I am part of that crowd. From there, my interest in Japanese culture grew. I always thought that since I got the ‘European’  and ‘Canadian’ experience (being who I am), I was looking for something completely different and new, something I’ve never experienced before. My interest in teaching in Japan grew and it grew to the point that I took an additional qualification course for my teaching practice (Teaching English Language Learners) and taught in China for 3 weeks as part of the course. I then flew from China to Japan, to determine if I could see myself being able to live in Japan. In those 12 days that I was in Japan, I loved the experience. So after many years of blood, sweat and tears, I finally find myself living in Japan.

I’ve only been in Matsuyama for a little while now, so I’m still just a newbie trying to survive homesickness, culture shock and a new job as I begin my new life here in the rural South of Japan. Sounds morbid but it does get better, I’ve only been here for a very short time but I’m already becoming acclimated to this new life. Once you fall into new habits, create a home for yourself in your private and work life, it becomes easier. As each day passes and I create a home out of my apartment and become more familiar with my schools, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with this new change. Soon enough I hope that Matsuyama begins to feel like home.

Some of my hobbies are hiking, reading, ‘crafting’ and spending time with my family and 5 dogs. Crafting I keep in broad terms because the wind is ever changing with me on how I want to express my creativity; whether it’s through video editing, building DIY dollhouses, interior decorating, painting or coloring. I am just a creative person that likes to express myself through a lot of different forms of art. I’m also a huge bookworm, whether it’s romance novels or manga, I usually have my nose stuck in a book. I also love collecting anime figures and have a huge collection at home. It’s going to take a miracle for me to not go crazy now that I’m in the land of anime. I enjoy messing around with my 5 shih-tzu’s, and miss it very much now that I’m here in Matsuyama. But I’m excited to explore Matsuyama, the surrounding area and call it home. I look forward to what this journey brings me and all that it has to offer!

Wszystkiego najlepszego!

Christy Chen

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Hi there, I’m Christy. I came to Matsuyama from San Francisco, California around the end of September. 

I studied Japanese for three years in university and studied abroad for one semester in Chiba with the most amazing host family. I hope to eventually teach English in Taiwan too but that’s for future me to figure out. I’m currently working at a junior high school and an elementary school with the coolest coworkers and the sweetest kids. Everyday they gas me up and for what!!! I’m about to act up! (I’m joking, I will in fact not be acting up).

My hobbies include going to cafes, watching anime, playing games, listening to music, occasionally drawing and on very rare occasions cosplaying.  I’m excited to meet everyone and I’m looking forward to learning from more JETs in Ehime and other parts of Japan! 

 If you like cafes let’s go on a cafe meguri!

Louise Carranza

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Hello! What’s up, everyone! My name is Louise. I’m currently a Junior High and Elementary school ALT residing in Matsuyama. I was born in the Philippines, but I lived the majority of my life in sunny Southern California. One of the many beautiful things about living in California, especially in Los Angeles where I am from, is that you are surrounded by so many different cultures and people of different ethnic backgrounds. I never had to travel far to experience another person’s culture. From my hometown, I lived about 15 minutes away from a local Japanese market and 20 minutes from a little Japanese town called “Little Tokyo”, which is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. I can honestly say that growing up in SoCal has been a blessing for me because I’m not sure if I would even be here right now typing this introduction in my humble Japanese apartment if I didn’t have that exposure.

So out of all the countries, I could have gone to, why did I pick Japan? Well, like most of you, anime and manga had a huge part in my life. As a child, I was more fascinated with reading magical girl and slice-of-life mangas, while the rest of my peers were reading the next volume of the Harry Potter series. You could always find me at the “Japanese comics” section in my local library perusing through all the titles that they had on the shelves.  So, It’s safe to say I was pretty much a closet “weeb” in grade school since anime wasn’t as cool then as it is now. I also grew up watching so many anime shows and movies. I remember when I was finally old enough to stay awake past 9 pm, I would stay up to watch the anime shows they aired on Cartoon Network’s more adult-targeted channel, Adult Swim. My older brother and I would watch shows like Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach, Inuyasha, YuYu Hakusho, and Death Note. They were mostly dubbed in English, but I enjoyed watching them nonetheless. However, out of all the anime series and movies that I have watched, Studio Ghibli films have always had a very special place in my heart, and Hayao Miyazaki’s works have been one of my greatest influences as an illustrator and a novice animator. But I’m still in the 2D animation stage, and I can’t even say that my animations are even up to par with Miyazaki’s work, because that man is a legend.

Besides drawing, and watching anime. My other interests and hobbies include listening to music, cooking and eating food, playing board games, playing tennis and volleyball, visiting museums and nature parks, and spending time with my friends and family. I like listening to a lot of kpop, chill r&b, and jpop. (If anyone reading this is a fan of keshi’s music or listens to kpop…please feel free to reach out to me and we can vibe and talk about music together ^w^)

I graduated from California Polytechnic University-Pomona in Spring of 2020, with a degree in Business Administration-Marketing Management with an Emphasis in advertising and promotions (I know what you are thinking…this is very out-of-the-ballpark from what I’m doing now). In University, I took courses on Japanese for almost 3 years. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I could do with the language in the future. It was required for us to take at least 2 foreign language courses, and I thought that Japanese would be the most interesting to take since I already watch anime and love Japanese culture. It was only later on when I found out about the JET Program through a classmate who was considering applying after graduation. He told me all about the work that you do with JET and I thought it was amazing that he wanted to teach English abroad. At the time, I never really considered doing that myself until many years later when I realized that I actually enjoy working with kids, especially kids who want to learn a second language.

While I was still attending University, I worked part-time as an Activities Leader and an Art Instructor at an International English School. I mostly worked during the summer and sometimes during the wintertime, and I was mostly assigned to Japanese students, which was one of the best experiences I ever had. It was fun helping my students practice their English and show them what American culture is like. Many of my former students still reach out to me and it has been rewarding for me to know that some of them have become fluent in English and can actually hold a conversation. Many of them are in or are getting ready for University and some of them have pursued studying abroad in America, which has honestly made me happy and proud of how far they have come. That’s what I find to be the most rewarding in this line of work. Seeing my students grow up and know that I made a difference in their lives, and have inspired them to strive for greatness and to love English, lets me know that I am doing my job right. Even during days when I feel like I’m failing as a teacher, hearing my students tell me that they love English and want to get better with speaking motivates me to continue to do better.

So far, life here in Japan has been great. I admit there have been days when I feel down and I miss my friends and family back home, but other than those days, I have enjoyed the memories I have made, the wonderful folks that I have met, and the beautiful places that I have visited so far. During my time here in Japan, I hope to gain some inspiration for my illustrations through my surroundings, and the memories I will make while living here in Japan. I look forward to the rest of the time I will be spending here in Matsuyama and I hope to make many great memories with you all!

If you are interested in checking out my art, here is a link…

https://iisekei.carrd.co/

My LINE if you want to reach out to me:

ise.oh

Peter Watson

Hello, nice to meet everyone! My name’s Peter, I’m 29 years old and moved here from the not so sunny Scotland.

I’m based in Matsuyama City and have just started as an ALT at the Elementary and Junior High level.

Before moving to Japan I worked in a court in my home country for around 5 years. Being able to support and help vulnerable children through the court system was a tough but rewarding experience and set me on the path to applying to JET.

This is my first time visiting Japan or living in another country so I’m more than a bit out of my depth.

I’ve been learning Japanese entirely through the trendy slang the kids at school are trying to teach my boomer self, so apologies in advance if I start to speak like a 13 year old girl on tiktok.

My hobbies include weight training, if I can muster up enough Japanese to get a gym membership here, and spending far too much of my life logged into Final Fantasy XIV.

Great to finally be here and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone.

Paddy McNeill

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Hi, my name’s Paddy and I’m from Manchester in the UK. I like to make music, DJ and have run an independent record label called Green Bay Wax along with my friend since 2013. I like language learning, cooking, reading, drawing, hiking and all that good stuff.
I’ve always been interested in Japan and learnt a tiny little bit of Japanese as a teenager. However, after visiting Japan for 6 weeks solo in 2019, I came back determined that I was going to do whatever it took to learn the language properly and started to get the idea that living in Japan would be kind of cool. 

On that trip, I realised that the rudimentary Japanese I had acquired really opened people up a bit and allowed me to make friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have made had I not made the effort to learn a bit of the language. I think by learning each other’s languages we help bridge our gaps in understanding and we bring the world closer together just that little bit more, which is now more important than ever in this increasingly polarised world of ours. 

After receiving kind encouragement from a friend who took part in JET as a CIR and had a great experience, I decided to take the plunge and applied for the JET Programme in 2020. Well, things didn’t quite go to plan after that, but I held on and I’m so delighted that it actually paid off after the struggle and the long wait!

Whilst it’s been a difficult period for us all, I think one of the results of the whole corona thing is that we won’t take our time for granted so much anymore. Indeed, as we’ve learnt first hand: every situation is… _not the same as every other situation_ , so we owe it to ourselves to make the most of the time and the opportunities we have at our disposal. There truly are no guarantees on anything in this world so let’s make the most of it whilst we can.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all and wish you all the best of luck in your adventures.

一緒に頑張りましょう!(´・ω・`)

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