That new tuh meh,
Make sometin’ that we could share,
Post it up inside ah here…”
Machel Montano Ft. Tarrus Riley, 2016
By Apphia Pereira
yuh say? So said, so done. Several in fact!
embarked on a journey into a world of drastically different cultures, I was
ready and enthralled with my upcoming prospects.
My name is Apphia Pereira, some call me Phee or Pheefi, and I come from the beautiful Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Coming to Japan has always been a G.O.A.L of mine and honestly, the timing, though at one point I may have thought was too late, is one that I can now appreciate. I applied after a really difficult year and I did not get any of my three choices but I also ticked the no preference box because I did not particularly care where I was placed. I was just looking for adventure and fulfillment. I honestly didn’t mind experiencing what the rural life had to offer.
I was not really sure what to expect from the three-day Hojo festival. Leading up to the event I was told there would be fights, broken mikoshi, and a parade. Naturally, I was having a hard time imagining how all of this would fit together into one festival, especially one in Hojo. After all, when I arrived in Hojo for the first time, it gave me the impression of being a quiet, small town, similar to the one in the United States I grew up in. The only way to find out for sure how everything would come together was to go to the festival and witness everything for myself.
year old me had many ideas about what I wanted for the future. Some included
wanting to be a paleontologist or astronaut, discovering new species of the
saurian or alien kind. Others were as mundane as wanting to be an ice cream
truck driver because I liked the music. That was before I discovered how creepy
that tinny music could be. Yikes.
One of the dreams that stuck around for longer (than my two week dream of selling ice cream, for example) was being a horse rider. Didn’t matter if it was as a rodeo rider, rancher, racer or jumper. I just wanted to ride horses. My aunt let me ride her horse a few times and my grandparents bought me cowgirl outfits when we went to see rodeo rides. My friends encouraged this by taking me riding for their birthday parties. Even if actually owning a horse or taking riding lessons wasn’t possible, I took every chance I could get to interact with horses.
you can imagine how excited I got when I was told that there would a horse
festival in Kikuma on October 20th.
When I first applied to JET, the question of “What sort of person becomes a JET?” was not at the forefront of my mind, but I certainly had an image. The image I had, of a young, straight out of university, genki American or British person, was certainly reinforced the sorts of people who appoint themselves representatives of the programme on social media.
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:
Japan’s ministry of education announced earlier this week that it would again increase funding for its bread baking programs run out of the department of home economics, making it the most well-funded school culinary program in Japan and more funded than any baking program run by its neighbors to the west, China and South Korea. The funding comes on the heels of a recent third-party review of Japan’s baking education which concluded that the Japanese student graduating from high school are less competent at baking than other students in east Asia and thus unable to compete in the growing demand for baking internationally. Now, instead of baking education beginning upon entrance into middle school, this decision starts baking classes two years earlier, or fifth grade in elementary. Eventually it seeks to by 2020 have children as young as third grade measuring flour and singing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
I remember when I first came to Japan and
heard stories of wild and crazy things that would happen to JETs; unexpected
adventures that would happen or strange gifts that they were given just for the
fact that they were one of the sole representatives of a different nation in
their town. They were the kinds of stories that were hard to believe because
they sounded so extreme, so they must be rare or non-existent.
My name is Lee Anne Ledwell and, as I’m sure most of you are aware, I was the Ehime AJET President from 2018-2019. Together with the current president, Laura Beardslee, we were able to rejuvenate Ehime AJET into the blossoming organization you know today. I wanted to take the time to write out this article explaining everything that has happened with Ehime AJET from its resurrection to what our council has accomplished this year to where I hope future councils will lead us.