As you may have seen, I’ve spent the last few days at the pre-departure JET Programme Orientation in London. As part of my experience, I was invited by the JET Programme to share my thoughts, plans, hopes and aspirations for my time in Japan. I gave a speech (my very first like this!) to 200+ people at the Japanese Embassy in front of the Japanese Ambassador and distinguished guests. It is fair to say I was a little anxious, but it went well and I hope I was able to represent the 2016 outgoing JETs well!
I was privileged to sit next to the Japanese Ambassador. We shared a few words, but mainly we smiled at each other and thanked each other;
“Hello everyone, thank you for having me to speak to you today. I’m Lorrie Hayman, a very excited 2016 outgoing JET Programme participant. I have been invited to share my journey to Japan with you.
Firstly, I would like to say thank you on behalf of all the 2016 outgoing participants to the JET Programme for this incredible opportunity, one that I am certain will help shape our futures and which will provide us all with the chance to support the development of education and international cooperation in our schools and communities in Japan.
As a former teacher of history and politics, I have often considered how modern Japan was shaped, in particular through my exploration of elegant Japanese art and literature. So, when my husband and I were presented with an opportunity to finally visit Japan in 2014, we leapt at the chance. This trip started out as a three week holiday, but quickly developed into a vision setting activity on how we could move to, and work in, Japan in the future.
I knew this three week experience could not be our last; Japan had made such a strong positive impression on us. An example, is when we visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park local school children were practicing their English language skills, and approached us to share their hopes of a future built around peace and harmony.
My perception of Japan during this small three week window of time, was that the Japanese are privileged to live in a beautiful changeable landscape, and that they value community living, social interaction and the family unit. Family can extend to friends, neighbours, and, excitingly, to JET Programme participants!
This motivates me as I cannot wait to interact with my local community and become a member of it. I’m looking forward to joining and setting up language conversation clubs: extra-curricular clubs with my school to inspire the students to practise their English; the English camp I am attending in August, and much more! I also look forward to using my role in a community to support my learning of Japanese and then simple things, like taking my new language skills and shopping in a local market.
Through the Assistant Language Teacher position we also have the unique chance to learn more about the education system in a country where over 95% of students attend non-compulsory high school. It is clear both through this and the investment in the JET Programme itself, that a great deal of value is placed on quality education in Japan. What an exciting environment to go and work in!
As JET Programme participants, we have an opportunity to work closely with Japanese Teachers of English and learn about their teaching methods, whilst exploring our own. I look forward to attaining the skills that will support my future career and impact on my students. I have spent the past three and a half years working for an education charity, with the vision to overcome educational disadvantage and ensure quality education for all young people, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Therefore, I am enthusiastic about how learning and education can open up opportunities for all people.
I saw this first hand when I spent some time teaching English in South America; for some of my students, having a grasp on the English language was a lifeline as it enabled them to get better jobs to support their families. Through the JET programme I hope to support students in my schools to have increased appreciation of the English language, and to develop the confidence to speak it. I want to inspire my students to engage further with the United Kingdom and other global cultures and use this understanding to support the shaping of their own futures.
As JET Programme participants, we will get to experience both living in Japan and meeting hundreds of other JET Programme participants from countries across the world. This is a chance to learn about many cultures and perspectives. I see myself as a global citizen, and the JET Programme is a platform that can be used to deepen the understanding between not only the United Kingdom and Japan, but the United Kingdom and the country of each JET Programme participant I meet. We are at a significant point in our history and the shaping of our future in the United Kingdom, so now, more than ever, this global collaboration and understanding seems vital to me.
I am very proud to be a member of the 2016 JET Programme cohort on its 30th anniversary. I look forward to achieving my goals of working with Japanese Teachers of English to develop English Language skills and international understanding, cooperation and celebration in schools, whilst integrating with my community. Thank you for listening and good luck to all of the 2016 JET Programme participants!”