Tag Archives: elementary schools

When Nothing Lasts: What I Will and Won’t Miss About Japan

A JTE from my middle-school leaves a bag of oranges on my desk in December 2018. The oranges were from her home garden!

By Cassandra Mainiero

In her poem “Nothing Lasts,” American poet Jane Hirshfield writes: ” ‘Nothing lasts’—/ how bitterly the thought attends each loss. / “‘Nothing lasts’ – / a promise also of consolation.”

While Hirshfield may have not been speaking about the JET program, her words are applicable here. There are good and bad days in the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program. There are things, people, and moments that you love as much as there things, people, and moments that you detest. You can be bitter that it doesn’t last. You can also be relieved.

As I reestablish my life in America, I am reflecting on Hirshfield’s words, and considering all the things I miss and don’t miss about JET. Here’s what I collected:

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Flexibility: Being an Elementary School ALT in Matsuyama

By Ciaran

As an elementary school ALT, I’ve played many roles. I have been the tape-recorder: reading dialogue from a script as the children fidget and try to match pictures to numbers based on what I’m saying. I have been the planner. I have prepared materials and designed lessons. I have adjusted things between classes and addressed problems that came up unexpectedly. I have been a kind of class pet: little children literally climbing on me, pulling at my hair, shouting for my attention, comparing hand and foot sizes, marvelling at my non-brown eyes and occasionally trying for that elusive kancho – and that’s where I draw the line.

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