JETAA Florida Newsletter

The latest issue of the newsletter is now available – read about the new incoming JETAA Florida officers and the new incoming JET Coordinator!

Recent webpage updates

April 13:

  • uploaded new background
  • uploaded new logo
  • changed favicon

May 2:

  • updated email addresses for officers and regional representatives
  • fixed glitch where post titles did not appear in certain browsers
  • fixed and tested contact forms
  • reactivated sidebar login

Elections 2012 Announcement

Sorry for the delay in election announcements.  This year, none of our positions were contested.  Due to this, the Board of Directors discussed and agreed to the continued appointment of our current officers.

We still have openings for regions reps and our newslettter editor/information officer.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please send me an email at floridajetaa [at]  Region reps are positions that are a great way to get involved and learn what the board does, without needing to invest too much of your time.  These positions are essential to keeping the community connected over the expanse of Florida.  Openings: Pensacola, Ft Meyers (currently served by the Tampa Region Rep), and Gainesville.

To contact any of the reps or officers please visit:

Elected Officers:

President – Bahia Simons-Lane

I am a transplanted JET alum originally from Washington, DC.  I was a JET in Gunma prefecture from 2005 – 2007, where I taught at an all girls’ high school deep in the mountains.  I held the position of ALT Advisor for the Gunma Board of Education from 2007 – 2008 and planned the prefectural Mid-Year Seminar for JET/non-JET ALTs and JTEs, provided support for Gunma JETs and worked closely with the Prefectural Advisor (JET CIR), and taught at a variety of special needs schools that otherwise would not have a native English speaking teacher (including the blind school, deaf school, physically/mentally handicapped schools, and hospital schools).  I am currently pursuing an MS in International and Intercultural Education at FIU.

Florida JETAA faces some unique challenges in becoming a vibrant alumni association; primarily that Florida is a large state and our alumni are very spread out, yet there are relatively few alumni for the state size. To face this challenge, I would like to increase involvement in our virtual community by using our website, Yahoo Groups list server, and Facebook.  I will provide as much support as possible to regional representatives across Florida in planning regular events.  I will get JETAA involved in related groups and associations that support Japanese language and culture.  I will make sure the two hubs of JET alumni in Miami and Tampa are regularly communicating and supporting each others activities as much as the distance provides.   JETAA is a great way to provide information about professional and social opportunities to members of the community, from job openings inside and outside of Florida, to social opportunities, to opportunities for being cultural ambassadors, so I hope to see more alumni getting involved.

Treasurer –  Gerard Batista

I was a JET in Yamaguchi from 2002 – 2005.  I live in Tampa and have been involved in Florida JETAA for many years.

Vice-President – Erika Washburn

I grew up in Norway and was raised with a great appreciation and interest for other countries and cultures. At an early age, I was introduced to Japanese culture and the interest stuck with me through adolescence. After moving to the US, completing my undergrad in International Studies, and working in the corporate world for a few years, I learned of JET and jumped on the opportunity! My husband and I moved to Oita city on Kyushu. I taught English and culture classes for Oita Commercial High School and loved it! Both my husband and I participated in culture and language exchange events with my school and the local community. We were also active members of AJET and joined our fellow JETs in the various trips, events and fund raising opportunities. We moved back to Tampa in 2010 (I now work for AACSB International and my husband is a music teacher), but we continue to keep Japanese traditions  in our daily lives, and JETAA is a great help at keeping the culture fresh!

I have served as your FL JETAA Vice President since 2011 and will enjoy continuing in this role. My duties and responsibilities have included advertising for JET in the Tampa area, recruiting for JET at USF, collaborating with other local Japanese groups, hosting the JET Welcome Home Party, organizing JETAA get-togethers, as well as serving on the planning committee for the Tampa Natsumatsuri.  I would be honored to continue serving in this capacity for our great group of FL JETs!

Secretary – Alison Youngblood

I was an ALT from 2004 to 2006 in Hidaka-shi, Saitama-ken.   Like all JETs, my time in Japan was incredibly influential.  When I started the program, I imagined that it would be a gap year between university and law school.  However, it actually helped me to discover my passion for teaching, and I decided to change gears professionally to become an English teacher.  It has been six years and counting since I left Japan, and I still keep in touch and travel with some locals and fellow JETs from my host city so continuing to work with the Board feels like a natural step.

During this past year as Secretary, I have worked closely with the President to revise the bylaws in order to achieve tax free status in the state of Florida.  I have also hosted JET information sessions in Central Florida to recruit new applicants, volunteered at events hosted by the Japanese community, and worked with the Regional Representative to organize local events.  However, I still see areas in which I can expand my involvement with the organization.

I hope to continue to work with the Board to find new ways to reach out to the returning JET community.  I think we can take steps to develop a connection between FLJETAA and current JETs representing Florida through the new JETAA website.  I hope to encourage fellow alumni to contribute blogs about their life after JET.  I would also like to see current JETs blogging about their experiences in real time.  By developing this link between current JETs and the JETAA, we will have a good chance of increasing our active membership.  In addition to increasing our active membership, I think it is important as Secretary to keep more detailed records involving the activities of FLJETAA and local chapters to see how our chapter is growing and changing.  Finally, as a member of the Board, I think staying active locally is one of my most important roles.  Since our membership is spread out over the state, it is crucial for local chapters and regions to develop a strong JETAA network.  After all, JET is about people and personal connections.  All in all, I hope to continue working as Secretary in the next term to further develop the connections between JET alumni and the Japanese community in the state of Florida.

Webmaster – Abigail MacBain

I participated with JET straight out of college. I was a prefectural ALT in a base high school, and throughout the year I also visited two other high schools and one special needs school. For my second year as a JET, I was treasurer for Aomori AJET and the moderator for the Traveling JETs Special Interest Group. Some of my favorite memories from JET include traveling (especially throughout Tohoku and Hokkaido), working with my students, and driving along rural country roads. After JET, I went to McMaster University in Ontario to get my MA in Religious Studies, majoring in East Asian Religions. After that, I was a JET application processor at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC for a few months before coming down to Florida to become the new JET Coordinator in May, 2009. I am also the webmaster for the Florida chapter of the JET Alumni Association.

Newsletter Editor/Information Officer – Position Open

This position works with the president and secretary to reports back to the chapter the annual chapter achievements and works with the webmaster to create and source blog content. Contact floridajetaa [at] for more info.

Region Reps:

Pensacola – Rise (Interim)

Tallahasee – Melissa

Jacksonville – Lisa

Gainesville – Open

Orlando – Tom

Tampa – John

Treasure Coast – Erin

Ft. Meyers – Tampa Rep (Interim)

South Florida – Wendy

Keys – Adriana

Webpage Updates

At the end of October, the former Florida JETAA webpage will no longer be accessible and will replace it as the official webpage for Florida JETAA. We’re still in the process of creating this website, but so far the following topics have been completed:

  • About
  • JETAA Board
  • JETAA Board Descriptions
  • Joining JETAA
  • JETAA Regions
  • Verifying JET Participation
  • About JET
  • Contact


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