Unbeaten Paths: Chuyo 2022 – New and Newer Faces

Edited by Jordan Rocke

G’day everyone! Took a bit longer to put together than I was expecting, but here’s the new cohort of the Chuyo JETs for summer 2022! For anyone who missed the deadline but wants to be included, please let me know and I’ll add you in!

Iyo

Ethan Madsen

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Hi everyone! My name’s Ethan and I’m from London in the UK. I’m also technically from the US through my dad which may lead to tax implications far beyond my comprehension while I’m here…

My parents have long been Japanophiles so I’ve come to the country a number of times over the years. The most significant trip was spending six weeks with a host family while going to a language school in Sapporo in 2017 in preparation for a Japanese A-Level. I ended up quitting Japanese pretty much straight after due to my school workload, never doing the A-Level, and have spent the last few months desperately trying to remember what was lost with limited success.

I studied Economics at university in the UK and graduated this June. Having heard about JET from a Japanophile friend a few years ago, I decided to apply as I had really enjoyed my time experiencing Japan from a non-tourist perspective in Sapporo. I also coincidentally have no idea what I want to do for a career and thought it would be a great way to continue to ignore this issue against the backdrop of Japan’s cultural and scenic beauty.

I moved to Futami, about half an hour from Iyo, a month ago and have been loving teaching at one junior high and three elementary schools, one of them Shimonada of Spirited Away fame. Beyond tutoring a bit of maths online last summer I have no teaching or classroom experience, but all my fellow Iyo JETs, JTEs and students have been lovely and allowed me to get stuck in and enjoy the challenge. Having only ever lived in London and then the centre of a busy uni town it’s been something of a change of pace but I have zero complaints. Any issues with relative train scarcity (being from the UK I am still amazed how they always arrive on time) or otherwise are far outweighed by being able to watch the sunset every day at the seaside park or take hikes up spectacular mountain paths near me. My Ehime bucket list includes the Shimanami Kaido bridges, climbing Mount Ishizuchi and going to the very end of the Sadamisaki peninsula for no particular reason.

In my spare time I am either playing guitar, on my Nintendo Switch, hiking,  or wondering how to fill the dark pit in my soul that was until recently occupied by League of Legends (any suggestions appreciated). Before COVID hit I loved performing at open mic nights either solo or in bands so if anyone knows about that kind of thing or just wants another guitarist to jam with please do get in touch!

Matsuyama

Sean Goodwin

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Hi, I’m Sean, a Matsuyama JET from London in the UK. I’m 21, so I’ve only just been out of University for three months. I studied English literature and Philosophy at the University of Sussex; although I was born in London, it’s nice to have moved for the second time to a city on the coast (although I don’t live as close to the coast right now as I did in Brighton). During my course I formed a hobby of reading, and tying in with my interest in Japan, wrote a dissertation on Japanese literature! I don’t have much experience in the realm of teaching besides a few weeks of work experience when I was 16, but I’m already really enjoying my time at my base and visiting school! I’ve also never lived alone before, so I’m excited to start meeting other people (I’ve been focusing a bit too much on filling my apartment with furniture so far). It’s nice to meet you all!

From a young age I became interested in the manga sitting on my older brother’s shelf, and since I started reading it myself I developed an interest in Japanese culture. I attended a public secondary school close to me that very fortunately taught Japanese, and even offered an exchange trip. One of the teachers told me about an amazing programme she participated in where you could live in Japan for years as a teacher, and so from the age of eleven I knew about the JET programme and was aiming for it. Through my years at the school, I hosted a couple of Japanese High School students in my house, and was able to visit Hamamatsu for a week, and attend their high school! I found that from these experiences I was able to make a lot of friends with people from Japan, and became even more interested in Japanese culture, while also developing a deeper understanding of my own.

Since graduating from Sixth Form, I had been out of practice in Japanese for two years, and have only recently started studying it again through the help of a circle at my university which offered conversation practice with native speakers of various languages. Upon arriving in Japan, I’m really happy to have had some practice, but I’ve realised just how hard it is to get practice enough for moving to a country that speaks a different language to home. Nevertheless, I’m already really enjoying my time in Matsuyama. Even though I hadn’t even heard the name of the city before my placement was announced, I’m very happy to be placed somewhere that has so much to offer, I’m certain there’s no way I’ll end up bored here.

I’m hoping that I can get across who I am better when I meet you guys in person, so please feel free to reach out and we can hang out sometime! Everyone’s come from a different place so I’m interested to hear your story!

Bria Hemphill

Bria

Hello!

My name is Bria Hemphill. I’m 27, she/her, and from the Southern Tier region of New York State.

I graduated from the Crane School of Music, located at the State University of New York at Potsdam, with a B.M. in Music Education.

Hobbies: Karaoke, hiking, studying languages, piano

I, along with quite a few others, arrived in Matsuyama at the tail end of July, so we were able to enjoy some fireworks, piping hot Takoyaki and beach vibes!

A festival just about every weekend? What more could you ask for when moving to a new place?!

Prior to hopping on the plane(s) to Matsuyama, I spent some time working part-time positions, just in case JET came a-callin’.

My most recent positions: Pre-school assistant teacher, Service Associate at a pharmacy, and State Assessment Scorer.

Annnnnd prior to that in-between period, I was a Guest English Teacher with the EPIK program in South Korea. I was fortunate to live and work on Jeju Island from 2019 to 2021. Adjusting to differences in culture as the pandemic crept into the country was a unique experience…

But I had a newfound passion for language learning and ESL teaching. I now know just how awesome silly gestures, rock-scissor-paper and no-prep games can be!

To insert a sample from my JET essay, ” In January of 2020, I attended a Koto and a Shamisen lesson in the Kansai region. Soon after the lessons began, I noticed how much care the teachers used in their preparation: a short introduction of the instrument in English, two versions of sheet music, simple gestures and phrases. As a music teacher, these unique experiences further inspired me to pursue education. It felt important for me to expand my professional career and personal skills in Japan.”

After my time with the JET program comes to an end, I will pursue a master’s in music, with the hopes of entering the music classroom soon after! It is my life goal to create inclusive, culturally responsive, musical classrooms where students embrace themselves and their peers for who they are and who they may become in the future.

I’m elated to be in Matsuyama and even more so to be working with such wonderful students!

잘부탁드립니다~

よろしくおねがいします~

Alexandra Vegso

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Hello everyone! My name is Alexandra and I’m from London, Ontario, Canada. I’m very happy to be in Japan and excited to have been placed in Matsuyama!

I studied Journalism at Carleton University with a minor in Neuroscience and Spanish. Although I originally had plans to work in science journalism, I have since changed career paths and have been working to pursue teaching long-term. 

After applying and enduring the long wait to come to Japan, I am excited to fully immerse myself in this country’s way of life. I hope to acquire a better grasp of the language and culture during my time here, and eat udon to my heart’s content!

My hobbies include playing violin (which I sadly had to leave at home), travelling, eating sweets, reading and swimming! I hope to get a chance to meet you all in person and learn about your passions and interests. 

Talk to you soon!

Victoria Ashley Childers-Lopez

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Hello Hello!! My name is Victoria Ashley Childers Lopez, but it’s quite a mouthful so please call me Ashley. I’m a new JET from the sunny state of California in the United States. I graduated from university in 2020 with a degree in Economics and an international focus. I also was an officer of my schools Esport’s club and played on the Overwatch teams as well. In college, I had plans to travel abroad to Japan for my last year of college, however, these plans were canceled due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the beginning of the year. I worked for two years as a diet consultant before deciding to apply for the JET program with very low expectations that I’d get in, but I made it and I am here! 

My interest in living in Japan started as a child, my father and cousins being avid fans of anime and video games rubbing off on me. I began attending anime, gaming, and gunpla conventions in 2009 and started cosplaying not long after. I continued attending these conventions until I left the states in July of 2022. 

Due to these passions I took two trips to Japan before deciding to move here. I was able to take Japanese in college and even work at a Japanese cafe where I was able to use Japanese everyday with my boss and coworkers to prepare me for arriving. I now have goals to take the JLPT exams while I am here and pass as many of them as I can!

I hope to meet many of you soon if we haven’t met already! It’s an honor to be able to work with you!

Anime and Manga I Like: Gundam, Vinland Saga, One Piece, Tokyo Revengers, Hero Academia, sports as a genre I’ve seen them all, Fate series, Chainsaw Man

Games I Like: Metal Gear Solid series, Resident Evil series, Gundam Evolution, Fortnite, Splatoon, Overwatch, Apex Legends, Sims, and a wide variety of VN’s and mobile games

Jacob Meyer

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Hello everyone! My name is Jacob, I’m originally from Arizona in the southwestern United States but have been living in Matsuyama since arriving here in July. I was born and raised in the city of Phoenix and graduated from Northern Arizona University in the spring of 2021. I studied journalism in college and spent a year working in news before coming to Japan. 

I couldn’t be more excited to be here! I’ve adored Japan ever since I started watching anime and playing Japanese games as a kid, and stayed interested by watching endless youtube videos about the country, studying the language and learning about all the unique things Japan has to offer! 

I first heard about the JET Program all the way back in junior high school about ten years ago and have dreamed of having the chance to live and work in Japan ever since. After college, the opportunity finally presented itself and I couldn’t be more happy that I took it! In the 2-3 months I’ve been here I’ve had an incredible time seeing spectacular sights, meeting really cool people and overall getting to experience life in Japan. 

At work, I split my time between a junior high school and an elementary school, and while I’m new to teaching, I’ve found it to be a fun and rewarding experience! One of the things that always attracted me to Japan was just how different it is to where I’m from. But all the differences, from language to culture and public transit to dense urban living have been a welcome change! I’ve really been enjoying my time here, done more in a few months than I thought I would in a whole year and am always looking forward to the next adventure! So far, I’ve been able to visit various spots around Ehime, as well as Hiroshima and Kyoto, but have plans to see a lot more! 

Outside of all things Japan, my biggest interest and hobby is writing! I started work on a fantasy novel as a COVID lockdown pastime and it has since evolved into a multi-year, multi-book project, thousands of pages and counting that I have dreams of publishing someday! 

While I’m starting to settle into life here, I still have a lot to learn and see and eat, but so far I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! Thanks for taking the time to read! See you

Selena Bernard

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Heyyyo!! I’m Selena! I’m from the East Coast, US. This is my second time back in Japan. I studied abroad back in 2016, in Osaka so it’s definitely different this time around. I’m in Ehime now, and I didn’t know anything about it before I arrived. However, I get the opportunity to explore a new place in Japan. Even the smaller cities have their charm and niche places that are worth knowing. It’s interesting to find out what mascot encompasses each place in Japan or their local fruits. I find it very interesting and fun to try to road map those little facts and then travel when I can to find out more—kinda like mapping a treasure hunt! 

I finally decided to apply to JET last year to see if I would get in, and I was surprised, but I remember feeling confident after the whole interview process. Since high school I’ve watched so many JVloggers in Japan and I’ve always wanted the chance to live here myself. It is a dream come true, you could say. I love anime and different aspects of the culture so I look forward to meeting people and making new memories here on Shikoku. 

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