Saturday, April 24, 2010

bfg on wrinkles

One thing I love about blogging is that you naturally start to browse other people's sites to see what is on their radar and, especially when it comes to reading about current JETS, how they are dealing with the recent turn of events in their lives. In many ways, I started this blogging adventure so I can record my inconsistent thoughts as well as potentially help others in the future. And maybe you all will learn a little more about my great love, Japan, in the process.

Now for anyone who knows me, I have always been into healthy skin care; I wear sunblock all year round, never tan and avoid the beach like the plague (though that has more to do with not getting sand in my ass, but anyways). I also try my best to avoid squinting and frowning, often hearing the opening page to The Princess Bride in my head when Adela loses her beauty as she devotes too much time to fretting about the loss of her youth; the wrinkling of her brow led to worry lines and creases abound.

I write this because a small, very small, part of me is starting to worry.

Oh, don't get me wrong I am excited. But there have been some critiques of JET - very vague ones - that have preoccupied me since I started asking around about the program.

At a birthday party last June when I mentioned in conversation how I was thinking of teaching in Japan through JET a friend of the bf bellowed, "JET sucks." And though he had several other very imaginative adjectives to add, his complaint lacked any substance to sway me.

But I have since encountered similar persons and it has been frustrating. The most concrete critique has been the lack of organization. Too date though, I have been amazed at how JET, especially the MTL Consulate who I have had the most direct contact with, has been able to coordinate everything with such precision, albeit giving themselves a significant amount of time to complete tasks; it took 10 weeks for them to provide answers of JET acceptance after the interview! Still, they have been responsive, responsible and informative. At my interview, they said they would mail all answers on April 12th. April 14th I had my response in my mailbox - lovely. The best part was me being able to tell people that - when I came back to work from lunch that day, everyone asked me and I had the letter in my hand ready to share it with them (and all who would listen in this universe). I squealed all afternoon and the girls and Brian were kind enough to tolerate this (and still do).

Other blogs have posted that there are significant differences between job experiences: some schools give you the freedom to create your own lesson plan while others have you there to replace the tape-recorder. I can understand and empathize with that but I don't think it is the fault of JET in the least (unless there is some information I am missing) and seems to have more to do with circumstance than anything else. To be honest, am really scared of being in such a position where I have no creative freedom - not even a little - in the classroom but there is still a big as to whether that challenge will even be mine to face so I will set aside the pacing and handle the issues that I can for now.

To be frank, I have found that JET has been really generous to date with their time and efforts. Though at times curt and somewhat cut throat - they only gave Short-Listed JETs TEN DAYS to do all the medical tests and send in proper documentation for acceptance, my guess is that they have to be to weed out the people who just want a trip to Japan and keep the applicants who are going first to teach, than to learn.

Anyways, all my fears are overshadowed by my excitement at meeting my students. Geez, I am in love with them already. And hopefully, a firmer, clearer image of what to expect will start to form once the much anticipated contract arrives in two weeks.

Tomorrow - spring cleaning and the commencement of selling all my possessions until am nothing but a serf ready for grand Pacific adventures.


  1. Hey,
    I'm currently a JET. What you have to realise that, yeah, JET is the people who do your interview and stuff, but that is completely unrelated to your actual work when you get out here.

    Good parts of being an ALT:
    good money
    meet good people
    learn Japanese
    great kids

    Bad parts of being an ALT:
    you have no meaning in the school.
    Your opinions don't matter
    very little to do, thus are seen as a complete waste of space by other teachers.

    Of course, you could get a school that uses you very nicely. My school is great, and I teach the baton team and do loads of stuff. And I am still bogged down with how little I matter in reality.

    Go on JET not to be a teacher- we are not. We are placed in little towns and villages to let normal Japanese people see gaijin for the first time. This is the real reason JET exists. If you keep this in mind, you'll do fine.

  2. Ps my blog if you want to read it

  3. I am adding your blog to my role on the right that you.

    I read your post on tv and the other on working on Saturday. Your comments above seem to have the same thread... I am really excited about having a classroom and teaching but I did notice how often JET blogs mention the hour that pass "sitting at the desk". I am super hopeful about my class, etc.

    Right now, my mind is just pacing in anticipation of my contract. I am so worried about it... I know it makes a huge difference about what you get from the school and the location itself. I asked for Shizuoka but who knows!!

    Thanks for reading!