JET-setters! - Cross cultural exchange programme gives Jamaicans a chance to experience Japan
"Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off- balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky ..." - Cesare Pavese
This was the quote proffered by the vice-president of the Jamaica Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association, Miss Sheena Jarrett, to the 13 JET participants scheduled to leave Jamaica for Japan.
It was the occasion of the JET Send-Off Reception in honour of the 2016 cohort of JET participants, at the residence of the Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica recently. A total of 22 participants were selected from among 324 applicants, nine of whom departed for Tokyo, Japan, in April 2016, and the remaining 13 participants will join them in the ensuing weeks.
The keynote speaker, Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid, encouraged the teachers to make proper use of the opportunity to learn Japanese, as it would equip them to offer a higher quality of teaching, as well as the ability to emulate the disciplined work ethic which is synonymous with Japanese culture.
In his speech, Ambassador Masanori Nakano reminded participants not to subscribe to the notion that they will be going to Japan to just teach English.
He stated that the 'E' in JET stands for 'Exchange'. He expounded that this cultural-exchange programme takes on the role of advancing mutual understanding between different societies. Of course, teaching English is a significant part of the programme, however, he implored them to keep in mind that they were also ambassadors for Jamaica through foreign-language study and international awareness activities.
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, commonly called JET Programme, is a Japanese government initiative. The JET Programme brings university graduates, mainly from English-speaking countries, to Japan as assistant language teachers, coordinators for international relations and sports exchange advisers. For the past 29 years, this programme has had over 60,000 participants from 43 countries. As for Jamaica, the programme started in 2000. Since then, over 300 participants have been sent as assistant language teachers to teach English at public schools in many parts of Japan.
Hiromoto Oyama, the counsellor for the Embassy, brought the ceremony to a close with a rousing rendition of a medley which included Bob Marley's One Love and the Japanese song Ue o Muite Arukou, aka the 'Sukiyaki song', with the guests joining in the chorus.