Backtrack #25: I Didn’t Want to be in England (Steve Turner, Hojo High School ALT, 2003-06)



What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

I am Steve Turner. I was an Ehime Ken ALT in Hojo Senior High School, in Matsuyama for 2 years and then added Imabari Nishi Senior High School and Imabari Technical High School for a year.

I was originally from Walsall near Birmingham in England. The ongoing joke was if there was a small group of brummie sounding kids now in Japan.

How did you find out about JET, and what led you to apply?

The year after I graduated Bath Uni, I was visiting some friends and I dropped into the careers office and saw there was a talk taking place about JET, I went along and thought that sounds interesting perhaps I will apply. 

What did you hope to achieve during your time on JET, and did that change over time?

I was an alternate in group D so only really had a very short time to think about it before I was there in the staff room, I arrived just before the start of the new school year. I had planned to start working at a hospital but just before I started I had the call from the embassy, thought about it overnight and said yes the next day. I suppose my main aims were just to experience something different, meet new people and beyond that I knew I didn’t want to be in England at that time, so it was great to be somewhere very different.


What is your lasting impression of the work you did on JET and the communities you were part of?

In 2019 my wife and I went back to Japan and we visited Hojo and it was like I had never been away, except the level of English seemed better, not sure if that was my legacy but hopefully a legacy of JET. I also see they have an artificial football pitch now instead of the part clay/grass pitch at the sports centre we used to play on. I hope I had an impact on the people of Hojo, the students and mostly on AJET as I think I was the first person to organise a touch rugby team in Ehime, a Ehime AJET ski trip to Hiroshima, and I was involved in the Sayonara party being held on Kashima in Hojo so hopefully some of those things continued. 

Where did JET lead you?

I suppose the biggest thing JET lead to was the friends I made, not just on JET but when I moved back to London I got involved with the Alumni Association, organising events from careers fairs, networking nights to speed dating (when that was a thing). The group of friends I have made there are my strongest group of friends now all because of our experiences on JET.

From a work perspective I had helped organise a few JET conferences while in Japan and so that led onto conference production, which had me continuing to travel around the world. Following that I moved into the world of sport. I now support people making transitions in their life.


What did you end up doing immediately after your time on JET?

I became involved in helping with planning orientation and mid year conferences and wondered if I could earn money doing that so I volunteered with a big conference company and actually off the back of that and a number of helpful conversations and got a job as a producer.

For JETs currently working out what they want to do when they finish, what advice would you give them?

I found that JET in itself was a great conversation starter but it was really hard to turn what I had done for 3 years into something tangible when trying to find and apply for jobs other than an extended gap year. It is a major concern for many JETs. Though there is often some hits of where you will be going next from your time in Japan.

My bits of advice are if you have no idea grab a book like What Color is My Parachute, then use the JET network, I am certain I secured two jobs in the past because of people I knew on JET or because the person interviewing me was an ex-JET.

Checkout what your home country offers to returners, this was a great way for me to make immediate friends and contacts but also find companies that understood what JET meant.

And finally, find someone to work it through with. I found it so hard to work through by myself, what I wanted, what the best options were and how to get things moving forward.


a post by



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *