Anime Expo 2007
JET Programme Info Panel

by Evan Miller,
Panelists: Jerome Lichtenfield (ALT, Saitama, '98-'99) and Sharon Sebastian (ALT, Saitama '04-'06)

The panelists introduced themselves and gave a few facts and figures about the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. The programme, founded by the Japanese government in the 1980s, offers three positions that people can apply for: Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), Coordinator for International Relations (CIR), and Sports Education Assistant (SEA). As of 2006, 5,500 JETs from 44 nations were employed in all 47 prefectures in Japan. Approximately 2,000 participants are from the United States, and 147 participants came from Southern Californa last year.

The panelists reminded the audience that the application period from the program is long; applications are an entire packet in length and are due in December. Interviews for eligible candidates are held in February.

A few examples of daily life in Japan were provided. The daily life for an ALT was described as a bike ride to school, a morning meeting with other teachers, teaching classes, and planning meetings with Japanese teachers of English. Panelists stressed that being in Japan is also a fantastic way to pick up new hobbies and participate in extracurricular activities. Many of the finer parts of life in Japan were described. Both panelists talked about visiting hot springs (onsen), traveling around Japan and Asia, and checking out local attractions. However, as the panelists cautioned, the JET Programme is a job and applicants should treat it as such. One-year contract systems and re-contracting were explained, along with the interview process.

One person asked a question about age limits. The panelists said that the program has raised its age limits a bit and that they do not discriminate on age. A person in the audience talked about remembering the phrase “every situation is different” and that different people respond to living situations and surroundings in different ways. Another audience member asked about breaking contracts with their employer. Panelists advised the audience that contracts should not be broken unless absolutely necessary.

One person expressed a worry about couples that apply to the program. The panelists responded that couples are usually placed close together. Questions about working hours and time requirements were also asked; panelists responded that working hours tend to vary depending on where you are based in Japan.

The official JET website can be found here.

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