Unbeaten Paths: Toyo & Chuyo 2022 – Latecomers and Second Chances

Edited by Jordan Rocke

G’day everyone! Once again we are gathering up introductions from new Ehime JETs. This pair of articles is going to be a collection of odds and ends. We’ll have bios from some folks who have arrived in the past few months, delayed due to a series of pandemic and/or military based inconveniences, as well as a few folks who for one reason or another weren’t able to get an intro in closer to when they arrived. My goal is to have these articles be the last entries for the 2020/2021 arrival group, so we can smoothly move on to focusing on the 2022 arrivals later this year!

We didn’t quite have enough entries for Toyo and Chuyo to justify separate articles, but I hope to have Nanyo out within a fortnight of this article! If you are a new JET and would like to be included in one of these Unbeaten Paths, please get in touch at themikanblog@gmail.com.

Prefectural:

Johnathan McMurray (Shikokuchuo)

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Hello, my name is Johnathan Edward McMurray. I am twenty-five years old, and I am from Belfast in the United Kingdom. I arrived in Japan in November of 2021 to work as an ALT, and I am very excited to be here. I studied history both at home in the UK and abroad in Germany for four years, and recently graduated with a master’s degree in the subject. I have a great love for all things related to culture, particularly with regards to film. It is from this passion that my deep appreciation for Japan was cultivated. Since my teenage years I have loved watching movies from the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi, and Yasujirō Ozu. The exploration of these works stirred in me a great desire to learn more about Japan. As such I have a deep respect for the storied, complicated, and highly engaging cultural chronology of this warm, welcoming country. I am very happy and eager to be here, and I look forward to meeting you all, be you a local of Shikokuchuo or from further afield. One of my favourite things in life is meeting new people and making new friends, so please do not hesitate to get in touch and say hello! Bye for now. ðŸ˜Š

Jared Beare (Saijo)

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Hiya!

My name is Jared Beare and I’m from a city called Southampton in the United Kingdom. First things first, I’m so excited to finally be here! I originally applied for the JET Programme back in December 2020, but only just arrived last month because of COVID delays. I’m currently an ALT at two senior high schools in Saijo and am already loving life here! 

Last year I graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in Modern History and Politics, with a long term aim of someday working in the UK Civil Service. I’m especially interested in the areas of diplomacy and international development. It was during my time at university that I, by chance, took an evening class on intercultural communication. It really got me interested in the field and gave me the chance to make friends with a lot more international students. In one session, students were asked to explain why they decided to study abroad and my Japanese classmates mentioned that her high school ALT had inspired her to study English. I’d previously heard of the JET Programme, but it was this point that I did some proper research and realised it could be an amazing opportunity for me.  

Admittedly, I’m coming into this position with no teaching experience, very limited Japanese and having lived most of my life in the same city. An incredibly daunting challenge, I know, but honestly I’m excited to just throw myself into this and give it my best shot. So far, the students I teach, the support & advice of other ALTs and the heartwarming kindness of local people have been all the motivation I need. Like, I assume, many of us here, I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture, from films to music to video games to history to food and everything in-between. There’s so many places I’d love to explore while I’m here and tasty sounding food I can’t wait to try. My to-do list is growing longer every day. 

Back in the UK my biggest hobby was hiking through the countryside and that’s something I’d love to continue here. It’s a tiring pastime for sure, but there’s something so peaceful about taking your time and appreciating all the small details in life. Not to mention how rewarding that sense of accomplishment feels when completing a trek. Really looking forward to exploring more of Ehime, with of course the ultimate goal being a trip up to the tallest peak in Shikoku,  Mount Ishizuchi. 

See you around! 

Troy Roberts (Imabari)

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Hi Hi! My name is Troy Roberts and I’m from the small twin-isle nation called Trinidad
and Tobago. I am a recent university graduate with a BSc. Economics and Business
Management, currently working as an ALT in Imabari City, Ehime.

My interest in Japan came at a young age, bonding over popular Hayao Miyazaki films
such as “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” with my father. Being a graphic
designer, he often looked at Japan’s works as a benchmark for self-improvement.
Because of this, I was always curious in understanding the underlying feeling that drove
his fascination for Japan and its animations.

For me though, this wouldn’t become fully evident until university. To escape the
persistent math and stats which plagued my undergraduate degree, I started taking late
evening classes to study Japanese. Up until that point, my knowledge of Japan was very
limited and skewed towards what I had seen in media growing up. I was therefore
pleasantly surprised to learn how vast and intricate the culture truly was.

Ultimately, studying Japanese was one of the more enriching aspects of my university
experience. I met and interacted with people spanning various ages and walks of life, all
sharing a common interest in language learning. With everyone’s motivations for
studying the language being different, I found my home in that tiny classroom twice a
week over the three years studying Japanese. In addition, it also afforded me some
incredible opportunities that I wouldn’t have been exposed to had I done something
else. I got to represent my country in a cooking competition, help host Japanese themed
events within and outside of campus and even test my language proficiency by taking
part in the annual speech competition held by the Embassy of Japan.

The crowning achievement in all of this though was being featured on local Japanese
television to discuss the popularity of manga and anime series, Demon Slayer (Kimetsu
no Yaiba) and my reasons for taking interest in Japanese media on a whole.
It’s honestly surreal knowing I’m finally here after so many delays and I’m fortunate that
Japan would contain a lot of firsts for me. I’m looking forward to many camping trips,
learning to make a plethora of Japanese cuisine and continuing my quest towards
becoming bilingual. This is but some out of an exhaustive list of things I’d like to do here, all whilst navigating supposedly “the best years of my life”.

Pronouns: he, him, his
Area: Imabari City

About
Avid lover of melon soda, film cameras and 90’s J-Pop. Recent ALT from Trinidad &
Tobago. I spend most of my free time either exploring Imabari City by bike or cozied up
playing the latest offering by Nintendo on my switch. If you ever need food
recommendations or someone to go with, let me know!
FamilyMart defender, pseudo-bilingual, luv (sic).

Advice/Favorite Memory
For advice, if there’s ever any discussion about which bank you’ll receive your salary in,
choose anyone else besides Iyo Bank. Just spare yourself the drama and thank me later.
As for my favorite memory…. It’ll have to be my first convenience store visit when I was
departing Tokyo heading to Matsuyama. Whilst waiting for my flight, I headed to the
FamilyMart located near the terminal and bought myself a Fami-Chiki, melon-pan and a
Glico’s Cafe Au Lait. Due to Covid-19, we couldn’t leave our hotels to explore Tokyo at
all during orientation. Therefore, this combini run was one of my first real glimpses of
Japan. Just one bite of that Fami-Chiki and I knew I’d be just alright living here.

Adam Hirst (Matsuyama)

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Hey there! My name is Adam Hirst, and I’m a new(*) Ehime ALT coming in from the UK. I’ve been placed at Matsuyama Minami “Super Science” High School, and I don’t think that was a coincidence.

(* Actually, I started back in November 2021, but this is my first full school year.)

Professionally, I started out fully-focused on science and mathematics, graduating from university with a master’s degree in theoretical physics, continuing with five years of computational optics research in Spain and Germany. During that time abroad, I came to realise just how much I enjoyed language-learning, and helping others with their English, so after the research (and the funding) went south, it was quite natural for me to respecialise into language teaching.

Personally, I’ve always been a huge geek (games, computers, cartoons… you name it), and on top of that I’ve been fascinated with Japan for as long as I can remember. So, when considering what kind of language teaching to apply for, the JET Programme seemed like the perfect fit.

Since starting here in Matsuyama I’ve had a great time, COVID restrictions notwithstanding. As a lover of food, museums, arcades and karaoke, there’s always something to do. It’s a fantastic place to be, and I look forward to even more fun as things hopefully finally start to open up over the next year.

Pitta Powell (Masaki)

Editor’s note: Pitta’s self-intro is available here via dropbox:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nf5oygelb9lq806/INTRO Final (1).mp4

We hope to have a more elegant way of embedding the video on the blog in the near future.

Ah Young Choi (Matsuyama CIR)

写真

안녕하세요, 저는 에히메현 한국 국제교류원 최아영입니다. 읽으실 분이 있을지는 모르겠지만, 몇 글자적어봅니다.

始めまして。私は愛媛県の韓国国際交流員、崔娥榮(チェ・アヨン)と申します。読んでくださる方がいないかもしれませんが、頑張って書いてみます。

에히메에는 2021년 10월에 와서 미국 국제교류원 미야와 같이 에히메현청과 국제교류협회에서 일하고있으며, 주요 업무로는 번역, 문화강좌, 관광 관련 업무 등을 맡고 있습니다.

愛媛には2021年10月に来て、アメリカの国際交流員のミヤと共に愛媛県庁や国際交流協会で勤務しています。主な仕事は翻訳、文化講座、観光関連業務などがあります。

저는 한국에서 태어나고 자란 한국인인데, 어머니는 일본인, 아버지는 한국인입니다. 어렸을 때부터어머니의 나라인 일본에 대해서 관심이 많았고 조금 더 이해하고 싶어서 대학을 일본어 전공했습니다.그러나 막상 대학교에서는 일본 사람들을 만날 기회가 없어, 일본에서 유학하기로 마음먹고, 히로시마로 약1년동안 교환학생을 갔습니다. 교환학생은 제 인생을 크게 바꾼 터닝포인트로, 나와 가치관이 다른 여러나라의 친구들을 만날 수 있는 기회였습니다. 한국으로 돌아와 일본 대학원 진학도 잠시 고민했지만, 유학시절 때처럼 나와 배경이 다른 사람들이 모여 함께 이야기할 수 있는 장을 만들고 싶다는 꿈을 가지고 JET프로그램에 지원하게 되었습니다.

私は韓国で生まれ育った韓国人ですが、母は日本人で父は韓国人です。幼い頃から母の国である日本について深い興味を持ち、もっと理解したいと思い、大学で日本語を専攻しました。大学に進学しましたが、実際に日本の方と触れ合う機会がなく、日本で留学をしようと思い、約1年間広島で交換留学をしました。それは私の人生を大きく変えたターニングポイントであり、私と価値観の違う色んな国の人と会える機会でした。その後、韓国に戻ってから日本にある大学院の進学も考えていましたが、留学時代のように私と背景が違う色んな人が一緒に話し合える場を作られる仕事がしたいと思い、JETプログラムに応募しました。

아쉽게도, 현재 제가 하고 있는 일은 교류의 장을 열 수 있는 업무보다는 번역 업무가 많습니다. 그래도시간이 날 때마다 한국어 강좌를 열어 지역 주민들을 만나거나, 제가 한국에서 경험해보지 못한 것들에도전하고 있습니다.

残念ながら、現在の仕事は交流の場を開かれる業務よりは翻訳業務が多いです。ですが、時間がある時に韓国語講座を開いて地域の方と話し合ったり、韓国で経験したことのないものに挑戦したりしています。

그리고 한국에 관심이 있거나 일본어를 같이 공부하고 싶으신 분이 계시다면 연락주세요! 저랑 같이 커피한 잔 마시면서 얘기 나눠요!

そして、韓国に興味のある方や日本語を一緒に勉強をしたい方はぜひご連絡ください!一緒にコーヒーでも一杯しながら話し合いましょう!

E-mail: ahyoung.ehime@gmail.com

Matsuyama BoE

Pumla Myeni

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My ID names are Pumla, Cebile and Lwazi but I have  4  other names from birth,not documented on paper but they are engraved in my heart (Fezeka, Ziphozonke, Dineo, Ama). I got another extra name, Tapuanashe, in 2006. You can call me Tapuanashe, my mother gave me that name which means GOD GIVEN. My maiden name is Myeni and soon to be Mrs Chikurunhe. Yes, you read that right. I’m going to marry my best friend, confidante and lover very soon. I have a bachelors of Social Sciences degree majoring in Organisational Psychology and Sociology. Furthermore, I am to begin my MBA with a university in the UK. 

Coming to Asia has been a dream of mine since 2014. My Asian obsession began in 2013 when I started watching Asian series, more specifically Korean and Japanese. South Korea was initially my first choice but halfway through my Epik application, I heard about JET and immediately switched. This has been a choice I don’t regret as I absolutely love it here. 

When I first heard about the opportunity to work in Asia, I was in the United States as an au pair in 2014. Unfortunately, I realised I needed a degree and that became my motivation to get my degree and not stay too long in United States. In order to achieve this, I sought to study at Rhodes University. In my final year, 2020, I applied for the JET 2021 programme. Even though I knew that they were receiving  thousands of applications , I had so much trust and faith that I would get in. I prayed and kept my hope strong. 

And by God’s grace, I did. I reached the second stage, passed and become a member of the JET programme.We were initially scheduled to leave in September 2021 but this was postponed due to covid-19. Our flights were rescheduled for the 27th  November 2021. I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it, my dream was about to become a reality. I called it my Morning. Flights were booked and bags were packed. I ended my lease and resigned from my job. However, it was not meant to be. Unfortunately, on my way to the airport I received a call from the Japanese embassy, telling me that my flight was cancelled. My dream was crushed, it was a nightmare. 

The worst  part of it was being told they are not sure when I’ll be leaving and it could be January but there’s no guarantee due to the fact that the Japanese government has closed the borders. Imagine, waiting for something and having no idea when it will arrive. It was torture. 

In January I got a call to be a bar tender or waiter, I decided why not and took it while I wait to leave. In February, I got another job teaching English online until it was time to go.

 March 17, I finally left South Africa and arrived in Japan. It has been one hell of a journey. I can’t even begin to explain what I and the other JET participants went through. While some of us waited for a year, others waited for two years and some even dropped out. But I’m happy to have finally arrived in Japan, living my dream. Working with children has always been something I love and I am enjoying every part  of it.

Neo Rabotho

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A man of few words upon first meeting, it says nothing about my view on things but more on that later. I’ve also passed for the paragon of equanimity in the past, but truthfully speaking I exist in extremes, (no) more on that later though. People be like you don`t talk much do you? and I’ll be like yeah, because I don’t make sense when I do bro. I am however, a terrific listener so if you want to get something off your chest or vocalize any weird interests then hit me up. For those of you who’ve already exchanged numbers with me – Yes, I text essays. Who gone stop me? Exactly.

Born and raised in Gauteng, South Africa with a colorful family and a lively background. It was often good times all around – but I remember thinking to myself constantly ‘‘How can it be greater?”, I’m as grateful as they come but I know myself well enough to know that nothing thus far has felt enough to be considered satisfactory, so I opted for a faraway experience – enter Japan; a place with a culture that has a few things I’ve felt like I lacked but needed to get to where I want to go and feel a lot more like the person that I ultimately want to be. A place that could make for an experience I’ve never had before. I think the most important thing in life is to find complete and utter satisfaction in the time you have. In the end, the less regret you accumulate the better. I studied advertising but spent some time in the financial industry with a big bank in SA and a cool Fin-tech startup, which were both great, but I walked away with no shares in either so I’m sure you don’t want to hear more about that.

I’m an adventurous person by nature so anything remotely outlandish that you might be into, feel free to extend the invite to me. I’m down to try most things at least once. I enjoy being outdoors in nature, it’s almost the complete opposite for city life, but what is friendship if not indulging others in things that make them happy just because you like to see people happy? Surprisingly athletic for a self-described nerdy guy (I can squat 120kg – come ask me about it), I’ve often been noted as having eclectic interests but you can be the judge of that. If I’m not running, flipping, or kicking then you’ll probably find me indoors reading or gaming.

A fan of football not soccer, but I can’t really play it. Less of a fan of every other sport but I can play most. Read that again. Animals and art are pretty amazing too. On a day-to-day basis I think I’m as agreeable as they come. Mild-tempered well-mannered and fairly modest. The kind of guy that parents all over seem to like. Calm under pressure with a healthy-ish number of nerves (a little existential dread here/a little PTSD there). Like I said earlier I tend to be open minded but I’m far from a yes man. If something isn’t okay, I’ll let you know.

I learn a lot from the mistakes of people who take my advice. I do like the English language a bit more than most. Vocabulary, literary devices, syntax, rhetoric, the elements of eloquence etc. Basically, everything that facilitates a complete and comprehensible communication of one’s own thoughts and feelings. A part of me thinks that we can never understand each other truly because we’ve lived different experiences in different bodies for long periods of time, and the only way to transcend that schism would be a Freaky Friday scenario or an emotion engine (look it up). Until then all we have is English (the universal language for now) so it’s every speaker’s responsibility to be as adept at its use as possible. This applies to all languages; assuming that you want to be understood.

What gets me mad? For starters, the prevailing racial issues around the world that enable the continuation of institutionalized discrimination to still occur, Government corruption is quite upsetting as well which, if you know South Africa – you know why (word to all my third world kinfolk), And of course the systematic destruction of the planet and all its perpetrators (litterbugs stand atop this list and people who hurt animals). A life well spent is one where I can bring down one of these issues. The rest is all rabble meant to be discussed in person so… thank you for making it to the end of this clumsy self-introduction. you’ll have no trouble surviving Japan. よろしくお願いいたします。

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