At approximately 1:35 PM today I will depart for Japan. This morning feels like Christmas. I kept waking up every 30 minutes beginning at five this morning until seven. All my bags are packed and weighed and I am ready to go.
The pre-departure orientation was a lot of fun yesterday. We were treated to the penthouse ball room where we heard presentations from the JIC Director, Yasuhiko Kamada and the President of Indiana Teachers of Japan, Allen Kid. From this reception I was told that there ate 103 departing JETs from Chicago; 1,500 JETs departing worldwide in 2012; and approximately 4,000 total JET participants. Additionally, there are over 60,000 JET alumni in the world.
After the presentations, we went downstairs to the conference room for dinner. Here, Consul General Okamura Yoshifumi spoke to us about the importance of our job in Japan, and in the world. As JETs, our job is not only to teach English, but to promote inter cultural exchange. This means, getting engaged in the community and helping out with school clubs. I know that I am looking forward to assisting with the school’s baseball team, and jazz band.
One thing that particularly stood out to me from the Consul General’s speech about living in Japan, was his message to, “Share the life. Share the happiness. Share the struggle.” To me, the “share the struggle” part took me by surprise. However, I found out that many small communities have been hit by slow industry growth, if any. Additionally, the aging population has resulted in many towns battling a declining population. Thus, the communities that we are departing to are looking forward to the energy that we bring. I cannot wait for the adventure!