Unbeaten Paths: Nanyo 20202021

Edited by Jordan Rocke

Welcome to the final part of the 2020/21 Unbeaten Paths, looking at our rural southern stretch of Nanyo!

Prefectural:

Evonne Downer (Yawatahama)

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Hi everyone! I’m Eva, and I’m an incoming JET from Toronto, Canada. Hopefully I’ll be moving to Yawatahama in September.

I first heard about the JET Program while I was finishing my master’s thesis and in need of a change. A friend of mine was a JET living in Ehime at the time, and she encouraged me to apply. It really appealed to my sense of adventure and my desire to challenge myself in a new environment. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve always been fascinated by the culture and traditions that I’ve been exposed to by friends I’ve made here in Canada. I’m excited to experience Japan for myself over an extended period of time in a way that is deeper and more meaningful than a holiday. I feel like Ehime is a great place to do that because I don’t have a lot of pre-formed ideas, so I’m ready to throw myself into a new place and new activities.

As for my hobbies, I grew up hiking, canoeing, and camping in northern Ontario, which is well known for its lakes. I tend to be happiest when I’m outside. I’ve been really lucky to be able to travel across the different natural landscapes of Canada and hike in the mountains, along beaches, and in forests in different provinces. I always bring my camera while I’m hiking, and I try to capture my favourite views. I like shooting on film because it forces me to slow down and be intentional with my photography. I have an old Minolta camera from 1979 that goes everywhere with me, and I’ll definitely be bringing it to Japan with me too. Other than that, I like to cook and try new foods. I practice yoga and try to keep my houseplants alive. Right now, I’m working on my Japanese and trying to make the most of the warmer weather.

I’m looking forward to meeting all of you in Ehime! Fingers crossed that the borders will open soon.

Seiyo:

Jade Williamson

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Hello Everyone! My name is Jade. I’m an incoming ALT for elementary and junior high schools in Seiyo. I currently live in Georgia, USA.

I graduated from the University of Utah in 2020. During college, I was required to take at least 2 years of a language. I chose to study Japanese since I thought it would go together well with my major (video game design). I ended up really enjoying it, declared a Japanese minor after my first year, and studied abroad at Shitennoji University during the summer of 2019.

A part of my study abroad experience was going to various classes on campus and helping the students practice their English. When I got back to Utah I got involved with ESL groups on my campus because I really enjoyed learning about other cultures and helping international students learn English. I applied to the JET program, and here I am now! Some of my hobbies/interests include making art, working out, watching bad reality TV & true crime documentaries, playing video games, and traveling.

I look forward to meeting everyone in person someday!

Ikata

Kyra Samuda (CIR)

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Hello! My name is Kyra (rhymes with Tyra). I’m from the small town of Glenn Dale, Maryland and will be headed to Ikata as an incoming CIR. I first became interested in Japanese language and culture through a childhood fascination with anime. I particularly enjoyed magical girl shows, to the point that I decided to get a Sailor Moon-inspired tattoo. When I entered the University of Pittsburgh, although I majored in psychology, I held a curiosity towards linguistics and foreign languages that I satisfied through working in various research labs during undergrad. My experiences ultimately culminated in a senior thesis project where I studied how the effects of cross-language differences between English and Japanese impact new learners and their comprehension of Japanese grammar structures.

In my free time, I enjoy trying new foods. My family is from Jamaica, so I’ve spent some time in quarantine trying to learn some of the staple dishes. I am also fond of baking, and my current favorite recipe is lemon pound cake. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a sporty person, but I did play rugby on my college team for a couple of years and have been trying to be more active post-grad including biking, trying out volleyball, and, most recently, roller-skating! Some other hobbies of mine include reading fiction (especially things with supernatural and/or sci-fi themes), listening to music, playing video games, and attempting to learn new languages.

During college, I had the opportunity to study abroad at Temple University Japan in Tokyo, and while I also had some time to explore Hokkaido, this will be my first time setting foot in Shikoku. I reckon that the rural life will take some adjusting, but I’m excited for the change of pace and seeing all that the island and my placement have to offer, including living so close to the ocean!

Uchiko

Goitseone Topman Roberts

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Greetings everyone, my name is Goiteone Topman Roberts. You can just call me Topman. I am from South Africa, a developing country on the southernmost tip of the African continent. I hold an Honors Degree in International Communication from the Tshwane University of Technology. I am an outdoors person that loves doing anything outdoors so please invite me if you are going by the country side or on an adventure tour through the mountains. Once I get to Japan, I will be stationed at the Uchiko Board of Education in Ehime, and I look forward to being part of the community and learning Japanese through interaction. I look forward to getting started with lesson plans, meeting people, and sharing my experiences with the students, enriching them with better understanding of the English language .In return, I will be blessed with learning Japanese. I can’t wait to get soaked in the rich Japanese way of life.

Ozu

Jonty Cook

For most people, the first step in moving to a foreign country doesn’t typically involve moving back into their hometown and getting a job at the local supermarket. To be honest, outside of those hit by a similar situation this year, I doubt that’s ever really been a concern for those looking for lives beyond the border. That is ignoring though that the actual first step was the application process – where I definitely did not have to book it down the length of the country to make the deadline – and the subsequent interview – for which my passport absolutely did not have to also book it down the same trip after I’d left it in my room at university. Those hadn’t felt like steps to moving abroad as much as they had felt like a job interview which, to be fair, was exactly what they had been. As such, I’ve felt a bit in limbo from the constant delays and the apprehension of an email that, in essence, contains the next several years of my life.

   I hadn’t really anticipated moving to Japan, honestly; JET had always been an option for me once I’d finished at university, but my primary objective for life after graduation was to live abroad. I’ve spent roughly half my life living outside of the UK, primarily in Europe but I’ve spent three years in East Asia – two in Singapore as a child, and one in China during university. In fact, during those years in Singapore I developed an adoration with cultures and countries, and how they interacted with each other. It led to me taking Asia Pacific Studies at university – a hopefully fitting degree for JET – and consequently resulted in me, on a dreary and drizzly autumn evening, sitting in the slightly too-small kitchen of a terrace house with my housemates trying to stop our fire alarm from going off again – as it was wont to do – as I filled out the rather extensive application form for JET.

   The surprise and joy of the email confirming my success in the application has unfortunately worn off somewhat since it arrived in my inbox a year ago. With the delays I’ve found myself having to focus on more present concerns as Japan has moved, in my head, more towards the background of my life. My friends and family still pester me about departure dates and whatnot, but it has turned more into a greeting than anything more expectant. I bought a jar of peanut butter a couple weeks ago, only to find out once I’d returned home that, according to the lid, I could win a free trip for two to Tokyo. That is certainly not to say that I am no longer excited to go – my bookmarks of locations to visit have quadrupled since last September, and I am still researching how to watch club rugby in Shikoku – but it constantly remains out of touch, taunting the objective I had set for my past self. I have spent this unexpected waiting time earning money for travelling in Japan, planning day-trips from my future home of Ozu, and otherwise working out what future me’s life is going to look like once I’ve settled in. Until that day of departure, though, the present will find ways to remind me of what is on the horizon.

I’m still hedging my bets on those peanut butter airline tickets though.

Uwajima

James O’Connor

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Aloha mai kākou! My name is James O’Connor but you can call me Pono. I am from the island of Hawaiʻi (of the eponymous state) from a town on its east side called Hilo. I will be moving to Uwajima (at some point this year hopefully)!

Studying and stressing out during the fall term of my Sophomore year of college, I came across this table and people advertising for the program. I took the brochures and realized this would be the next step in my journey. 

Growing up, my mom and my grandmother always told my cousins and I the stories of our family, the legends and histories of the places that we would visit around Hawaii, and reviews of the different foods as we would go on driving around town. My grandmother is half-Hawaiian and half -Japanese and, alongside the aforementioned, the most important thing she passed to her children and grandchildren is a pride in being Hawaiian and a curiosity for life. 

Hawaii is a place rich in not just the indigenous culture of my ancestors but many other cultures of people that have arrived to these islands. With that culture it brought food, dances, songs, and many more things that have woven itself into the image of what Hawaii is today.  Going to Japan for me is twofold. I can learn more about my Japanese ancestors and what their life was like but I also get to connect and strengthen the relationship that Hawaii and Japan have. 

David Baldeo

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Hi everyone,

My name is David Baldeo. I hail from and currently reside in Toronto, Canada. I consider myself to be an avid world traveler and I do hope that Japan can become one of my next major touchdown destinations. I originally have a background in Criminology from Ryerson University, so if you need to add any spice to your life with gory crime thriller stories, movies or TV show recommendations, I am your guy! I have yet to teach in Japan, but I am currently assigned to Nanyo, District A in the city of Uwajima in Shikoku, so if you happen to be in the area by the time I arrive in September 2021ish, please feel free to extend the proverbial olive branch and I will do the same.  

I do have numerous athletic and artistic interests that range from reading and short story writing, to working out, running marathons, playing soccer, swimming, lifting heavy things and long-distance road trips. Regardless of how busy I am, you can always find me at your local coffee shop as caffeine is essential to my life! I do like to involve myself in many different hobbies and activities, so if you have any activities that interest you, please let me know and we can meet up. Chances are, we probably like the same thing.    

I first became interested in joining JET through the recommendation of a friend. Upon doing my research and educating myself on the different cultural and traditional aspects that Japan possessed, I could not help but want to experience it for myself. Reading up on Japanese culture and history and looking through various social media outlets on the many festivals and beautiful surroundings that Japan possessed, I can say that without a doubt that I would love to live in a place where I am part of the experience.  I would love to be part of an organization such as the JET programme where I can teach kids the English language. I would love to work alongside my fellow JET peers and coworkers, as we all strive to achieve our own personal goals in this little endeavor which we call life and to work with kids as I help them to discover their dreams and realize their passion for learning. I would love to meet and interact with residents of Japan and to share the many customs that Canadians are known for.  Though it has been a long and windy road during this journey, I do look forward to meeting all of you, my fellow JET peers, and coworkers. Please feel free to add me via my insta at David Baldeo if you care to ask me any more questions.

Editor’s note: Thank you again, for everyone who has read these introductions, contributed to them, or both. At the time of publication, we are still uncertain who and how many 2021 JETs will be joining the delayed 2020 JETs introduced through this series. I hope to produce a similar set of introductions when we know who else will be coming to Ehime, so please look forward to meeting more incoming Ehime JETs!

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